The rush to the cloud continues unabated. In 2018, the global public cloud market will reach a whopping $178 billion—up from $146 billion in 2017—and continue to grow at a compound annual rate of 22%, according to Forrester Research.
The question is not whether to embrace cloud, but how to do so effectively and efficiently. Most IT decision-makers would probably sign up today if you told them they could wave a magic wand and, poof, all of their applications could be modernized, running smoothly and securely in the cloud.
The cloud is a lot of things, but it’s not magic. Key challenges in moving to the cloud include:
- Application portability: You can’t just move a legacy application to the cloud. It must be re-architected, which is expensive, time-consuming and risky.
- Control: Most IT leaders aren’t ready to completely give up their on-premises data centers for a variety of reasons, including control, security, compliance and performance. Many are, however, looking to consolidate using a hybrid cloud approach with both on-premises and public cloud resources.
- Personnel skills: IT departments have a lot invested in the skill sets of their teams, particularly in business-critical platforms such as VMware vSphere. Public cloud requires a different skill set and different areas of expertise.
- Cost: Companies also have a lot invested in legacy infrastructures. They are not necessarily in a position to walk away from them, particularly when there is no guarantee that they can get equal performance or security protections in the cloud.
It may not be magic, but VMware customers can pretty much make these obstacles disappear. A new service, called VMware Cloud on AWS, enables IT to shift workloads to a familiar vSphere environment running on AWS infrastructure that incorporates a broad range of AWS services as a direct extension of their on-premises data centers.
Software-defined architecture is the foundation for these new capabilities. Playing a key role is VMware vSAN, which allows organizations to easily and transparently leverage a storage deployment model that can run on any hardware and any platform, whether on premises or in the cloud.
Leveraging core software-defined technologies such as vSAN, vSphere and NSX, the VMware Cloud on AWS service enables IT to achieve some of its core goals, such as:
- Move to an Opex pricing model so IT can focus on driving business benefits instead of dealing with day-to-day infrastructure lifecycle management.
- Take control over rogue shadow IT initiatives and provide a trusted platform for development teams and line-of-business managers.
- Leverage the elastic scalability of the public cloud to meet expected spikes in demand—think retailers at Christmas—or unexpected demand.
- Consolidate infrastructure by using the cloud to streamline the number of data centers, resulting in huge cost savings and improvements in business agility.
At the same time, IT can also overcome the key obstacles previously inherent in extending on-premises infrastructure to the public cloud. IT can easily migrate applications without conversions, leveraging bi-directional workload portability between on-premises and VMware Cloud on AWS—a key advantage that allows customers to not only migrate to the public cloud, but also exit the public cloud as needed.
Personnel can manage the VMware Cloud on AWS environment using technologies they are already familiar with, so there are really no new skill sets required and there is consistency among tools, policy and management. Organizations can keep their legacy infrastructure investments on premises, while still embracing a consumption-based pricing model and new software-defined technologies in the public cloud.
Cloud is here to stay. But “cloud first” does not mean “cloud only.” Organizations can achieve the best of both worlds—on-premises data centers and public cloud services—by easily leveraging familiar technology platforms that seamlessly span different environments and clouds. The emergence of software-defined infrastructure makes it easy to pick a consistent platform for each workload without having to worry about issues surrounding application portability or personnel skill sets. It may not be magic, but it’s a much simpler and safer path to the cloud.