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LAS VEGAS -- VMware HCX attempts to drive migration to hybrid and multi-cloud architectures, but IT administrators are still hesitant to make the switch due to concerns around cost and complexity.
Before doing product evaluations and determining if VMware Hybrid Cloud Extension (HCX) is a good option for workload migration, admins must figure out if the cloud meets their current and future business needs. What is the organization trying to accomplish with its existing deployments?
For example, consider a near-end-of-support vSphere 5.5 environment: Is the goal to seamlessly migrate those workloads from the current environment to the cloud without an on-premises upgrade? Or, is successfully migrating hundreds of VMs or large amounts of storage the objective?
Determining the ultimate goal and whether a private cloud, hybrid cloud, public cloud or multi-cloud makes the most sense is a decision that admins must make on a case-by-case basis.
Cloud cost and complexity concerns
The ongoing fee associated with using cloud services is just one of the cost concerns, experts said in a session here at VMworld 2018. During the migration, admins have to worry about whether they'll need to change IPs, the potential of running into compatibility issues, and the responsibility of ensuring business continuity and disaster recovery.
"Even after we meet all their requirements, we've seen in any organization all kinds of inertia about getting going," said Allwyn Sequeira, senior vice president and general manager of hybrid cloud services at VMware. "People think they need to go buy high-bandwidth pipes to connect from on-prem to the cloud. People think they need to do an assessment of applications to see if this is an app that should be moved to the cloud."
App dependencies and mapping are certainly important issues to consider. With more VMs, the environment is more complex; it's easier to break something during migration.
Even when a certain vendor or product addresses their concerns, admins need buy-in from networking, security, compliance and governance teams before moving forward with the cloud.
The introduction of VMware HCX is the vendor's attempt to remove some of the roadblocks keeping organizations from adopting hybrid and multi-cloud environments.
What is VMware HCX, and what are its use cases?
VMware HCX, also known as NSX Hybrid Connect, is a platform that enables admins to migrate VMs and applications between vSphere infrastructures with at least version 5.0 and newer and from on-premises environments to the cloud.
The top use cases of VMware HCX include consolidating and modernizing the data center, extending the data center to the cloud, and disaster recovery.
"HCX gives you freedom of choice," said Nathan Thaler, director of cloud platforms at MIT in Cambridge, Mass. "You can move your workload into a cloud provider as long it works for you, and then you can move it out without any lock-in. We've moved certain VMs between multiple states and without any network downtime."
Thaler did caution organizations to avoid using virtual hardware beyond the highest level of compatibility with the oldest cloud environment.
Disaster recovery to the cloud, while maybe not as front of mind as other popular use cases, is key in the event of a natural disaster.
"We wanted to be able to have resiliency whether it's an East Coast event or a West Coast event," said HCX customer Gary Goforth, senior systems engineer at ConnectWise Inc., a business management software provider based in Tampa, Fla.
VMware HCX-supported features include Encrypted vMotion, vSphere Replication and scheduled migrations. The functionality itself seems to be what admins are really looking for.
"We wanted a fairly simple, easy way to implement a cloud," Goforth said. "We wanted to do it with minimal to no downtime and to handle a bulk migration of our virtual machines."
In terms of the VMware HCX roadmap, the vendor is working on constructs to move workloads across different clouds, Sequeira said.
"It's all about interconnecting data centers to each other," he said. "Ultimately, at the end of the day, where you run is going to become less important than what services you need."