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Solution Spotlight: Cloud Migration And Mobility In Minutes With Velostrata

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Fast. Simple. Easy. These are not the things that come to mind when you think of cloud migration and cloud mobility, but one startup is shaking things up to make it a reality, albeit with some limitations.

There’s no denying the intrinsic benefits of a hybrid cloud model. Flexibility, agility, scale, not to mention cost savings and a wide variety of use cases that are ideal for a cloud setup that can use on-premises, private and public cloud resources on-demand.

However, roadblocks to hybrid cloud adoption are real. There are technical challenges as well as important business and management considerations. Hybrid cloud migration is typically a very complex operation involving a lot of planning and prep work to determine proper data location, networking, capacity, API compatibility, security, compliance and a slew of other concerns. For many organizations the benefits of hybrid cloud have not been able to outweigh the challenges associated it.

Yet demand for hybrid cloud continues to grow. A recent report from MarketsandMarkets estimates that hybrid cloud spend will increase from $33 Billion in 2016 to over $90 Billion by 2021. What’s more, new hybrid cloud solutions and services are popping up regularly to support this growing market segment.

And a 2016 survey of over 1,000 IT professionals, conducted by RightScale, shows hybrid cloud adoption is up 13 percent from the previous year, with 71 percent of respondents saying they use hybrid cloud today.

Hybrid cloud adoption continues its rise, thanks in part to innovative tools and technologies, like Velostrata. The young startup has opened a new door to cloud mobility that’s able to significantly speed up and simplify the migration process.

Solving The Cloud Migration Challenge

When the company came out of stealth in late 2015, Velostrata announced that its solution is able to decouple compute from storage, so organizations can run workloads in the public cloud while keeping storage on-premises—all without sacrificing performance. This decoupling capability is Velostrata’s fundamental differentiator from other cloud migration solutions available today.

“We recognize that enterprises want to be able to take advantage of cloud agility but the reality is that migrating transactional applications, and especially applications that have a lot of data associated with them, to the cloud can be complicated, and there’s a high risk of failure,” said Michele Borovac, VP of Marketing at Velostrata during an interview with ActualTech Media. “By decoupling compute from storage we are able to let customers move compute to the cloud in minutes, giving them the control over where storage resides.”

The key application for the technology is on-demand capacity. Customers can move VMs to the cloud to improve performance or burst on-demand during peak times. It also serves as a good dev/test tool, allowing development teams to quickly spin up VMs in the cloud without having to migrate the storage, with the option to sync results on-prem or have data persist in the cloud.

“We’ve done a number of optimizations that make the solution ideal for dev/test in public cloud environments,” Borovac explained. “You can quickly clone applications without the burden of moving the data, which allows you to do more testing in less time, and ultimately obtain better time to market.”

Velostrata combines several types of technologies for optimization purposes to make the whole process smooth and efficient. The company’s VM Streaming technology makes it possible to quickly boot the compute in the cloud with storage remaining on-prem. WAN optimization techniques, such as network and storage deduplication, compression, as well as caching technologies help mitigate bandwidth and latency limitations between the data center and cloud.

With its latest release, Velostrata is moving further, allowing customers to do full migrations to and from the cloud. With version 2.0 the company has added an option to fully move applications and their data to the cloud (and back on-prem or to another cloud, when the need arises)—and to do so in a fraction of time using its Smart Migration tool, caching and workload streaming technology.

What can take weeks with other cloud migration tools takes Velostrata just minutes. It might sound like it’s too good to be true, so let’s take a closer look at how the solution works.

How Velostrata Works

Today, Velostrata supports VMware as the target source and AWS and Azure public clouds. Admins use Velostrata through a vCenter plug-in, along with REST APIs and PowerShell modules for integration and automation capabilities.

On the data center side, a virtual appliance is deployed that connects to the public cloud using VPN, AWS Direct Connect or Azure ExpressRoute. A corresponding virtual appliance is deployed in the cloud automatically once the cloud account information is entered, Issy Ben-Shaul, CEO and cofounder of Velostrata told us during a live demo of the solution for ActualTech Media. This means that customers don’t have to directly touch the public cloud configuration; this is done automatically through Velostrata’s solution, Ben-Shaul explained. Velostrata Cloud Extensions, shown below, are the cloud targets that you can deploy VMs to.

Once deployed, admins can right-click on any individual VM (or a set of VMs) that they want to move to the cloud, enter in information about the target cloud and instance type, and the VM starts the migration process. Admins also have the option to keep the node running on-prem, spinning up a clone in the cloud instead, with access to the production data, according to Ben-Shaul.

This allows customers to perform migration of production workloads as well as migration for dev/test purposes, including testing and cost analysis to find the right cloud environment for a specific application.

“You can quickly move a workload and test it in AWS; you can then try the same workload in Azure, do some tuning and figure out which one is going to be the best option for that application,” Borovic explained. “Having this flexibility also helps you avoid vendor lock-in, because you truly have the ability to move from one cloud to the other, depending on how your business needs are changing.”

When the VM boots in the cloud, it actually boots in Velostrata’s virtual appliance, Ben-Shaul told us, serving the storage and data from the disk that’s on-prem. At this point the compute and storage are decoupled—the compute runs in the cloud and the storage remains on-prem. And with the latest version of the software, Velostrata now offers the option to push the storage to the cloud for a full and permanent migration, which will end with a fully cloud-native machine.

Velostrata Cloud Migration Demo

Ben-Shaul demonstrated the entire cloud migration process for us using a VM running SugarCRM on a Windows machine with 2 disks (40GB for the OS and 1TB for the application data and database) in the data center.

After running through a set of configuration options, selecting the cloud instance type, storage policy, security groups, networking and full storage migration disk settings, Velostrata begins the migration process shutting down the on-prem VM and booting it in the cloud from its latest state. The storage migration then happens in the background once the application is live in the cloud.

In addition, Velostrata performs an automatic adaptation of the VMware image to fit the target cloud, Ben-Shaul noted, so there’s no additional configuration that needs to be done on the cloud side. Updates on the progress of the migration and the new cloud instance are displayed right in the vSphere console.

For our SugarCRM demo, the VM was running in the cloud in just under two minutes. Ben-Shaul assured us that it was fully operational by pinging the application in the cloud.

The storage migration process starts with Cache on Demand, where the data remains on-prem but is available to the compute instance. Once the image boots in the cloud, the storage begins migrating to the cloud without disrupting the application. And all of this is done automatically, based on the settings selected during the configuration process.

The process of moving the instance back to on-prem, or moving it to another cloud target is the same, said Ben-Shaul, and can also be accomplished through an API call or PowerShell command. The CEO assured us that it takes about the same amount of time as moving VMs to the cloud.

Ben-Shaul also showed us the integrated monitoring feature available in the solution, which includes not just performance monitoring, but also the backend impact of offloading the on-prem storage, WAN optimization when the workloads are transferring, and more.

Conclusion

Today, with a basic setup Velostrata can move between 200 and 250 VMs concurrently, according to the CEO, which should satisfy a good chunk of the market, and with a more elaborate setup, that number can be increased to a few thousands, as there are “no inherent limitations,” said Ben-Shaul. But in its current iteration, the product is still only applicable to VMware vSphere environments utilizing AWS and Azure clouds. On the other hand, with a major product release less than six months after Velostrata went GA, I’m sure we’ll be seeing a lot more from the cloud migration and mobility vendor soon.

Velostrata raised $17.5 million in Series B funding this week from investors led by Intel Capital, and participating investors from Norwest Venture Partners and 83 North, to focus on product development. More impressive is the leadership team’s track record. Ben-Shaul cofounded Wanova, which sold to VMware in 2012 for $100 million, and Actona Technologies, which sold to Cisco in 2004 for $82 million. Ady Degany, the company’s cofounder and Chief Product Officer, was on the executive team of Microsoft’s Server and Cloud Division and led product marketing for StorSimple, which was acquired by Microsoft in 2012.

If this product overview piqued your interest and you’re interested in exploring Velostrata further, you can request an evaluation through velostrata.com. And if you’re planning on attending VMworld later this month, stop by Velostrata’s booth #763 to see a demo yourself.

 

Kasia Lorenc
kasia0303@gmail.com

Kasia Lorenc has been working in technology and digital marketing for nearly a decade writing about cloud computing, security and IT certification and career topics.

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