Migrating to the Cloud – Challenges and Considerations

As organizations continue to experience vibrant growth and rapid entry into new markets, the need to architect new data environments which perform flawlessly, deliver cutting edge technology solutions, and conserve resources has become paramount. It is often assumed that a transition from a private in-house data center to a cloud-based infrastructure is the direction in which most organizations should embark. However, there are multiple challenges and considerations that should be addressed before you take the plunge. Cloud Hosting

Preparing for Migration across the Enterprise

The decision to transition to the cloud is by no means a purely technical one. It involves important issues such as vendor selection, strategies to handle possible service disruption during the transition, and cost considerations only to name a few. Let us examine them briefly:

Vendor Selection

With new Cloud hosting companies appearing on the horizon regularly and promoting themselves rigorously, choices may be difficult to make. Make sure you are looking at more than just the cost or the cheapest deal. Examine issues such as industry reputation, awards, and accreditations, read case studies and ask to speak to a current customer. Find out if telephone support is provided 24X7? Do members of your senior technical team have instant direct access to their counterparts at the cloud hosting provider or do they have to go through several hoops to reach them? These often overlooked factors can end up costing more money in the long run and what appears to be a cheaper provider could end up being much more expensive.

 Service Disruption

Advance planning is the key to disruption management when connecting with the cloud. If your decision to consider the cloud involves only internal corporate data, a replication model may be the right answer. In this model, your data center and your Cloud operation function simultaneously until such a time that the transition is complete. However, if you have a large number of tier 1 customers who rely on you for service as is the case with live chat / videoconferencing / SaaS providers for instance, service disruption will have to be planned for well in advance and your service provider should offer you a migration plan and assistance.

 Resource Optimization and Costing

Cost savings are frequently mentioned as one of the main reasons why enterprises should vote for the Cloud.  Having a hardware free environment can certainly save a huge amount of money and resource. Outsourcing to a cloud hosting provider also gives you the option to re-deploy your technical workforce giving them the ability to concentrate on your core IT. Resource optimization & re-deployment options will vary depending on whether you choose the public, private or the hybrid Cloud model.

 Are you ready to migrate to the Cloud?

You are ready…..

When there are frequent spikes in service usage and on demand resources become an attractive proposition.
When your applications are known to perform better in the cloud (via previous testing).
When data privacy and regulatory compliance become top priorities because of new clients you have recently acquired.
When control cost is important and a pay-as-you-go model becomes viable.
If you are in need of a hardware refresh and want to lower your cost and optimize performance.
If you are moving to a new premise and no longer have in-house space.
If you want to re-deploy technical resource and concentrate on your core IT.

Migration to the cloud, especially by the technically savvy, startups and SaaS has experienced a dramatic rise in the past few years and for good reasons. Enterprise cloud computing investment is expected to grow from $76.9B in 2010 to $210B in 2016, according to a Gartner study.

Has your organization stepped into the cloud yet? Have you finally found your silver lining? What are some of the constraints you have experienced in your decision-making process? We would love to hear from you through your comments.

For more information read the AIP Case Study.



Pexip showcase live virtual videoconferencing at InfoComm14, via StratoGen Hybrid Cloud

Live from the show floor….

StratoGen has partnered with Pexip to demonstrate live hybrid cloud videoconferencing that bridges the gap between on premise and cloud hosted environments. During this interactive demo users are able to see instantly how easy it is to set up a private virtual meeting for users, regardless of location and capability.

Pexip Stand

Showcasing the Pexip Infinity product with the StratoGen hybrid cloud, users are able to see the solution working seamlessly. Each user has been given an instant personal virtual meeting room and can opt to experience true interoperability by dialling in with any client or device they choose.

The Pexip solution is particularly appealing because it’s revolutionising the unified communications industry.  Through the virtual backplane, Pexip’s virtualized collaboration platform provides a consistent experience to all connected endpoints, regardless of type, location, and other factors that typically hinder the meeting.

This coupled with StratoGen’s industry leading quality and experience in the cloud hosting space, gives a truly robust experience to the Pexip SaaS videoconferencing model as demonstrated live at InfoComm14 today.

InfoComm14, is the largest annual conference and exhibition for AV buyers and sellers worldwide, held in Las Vegas, Nevada.

INFOCOMM14 outside

VMware vCloud Director Quick View

The VMware vCloud Director is the browser interface to the VMware vSphere cloud. You use it to manage your applications and virtual machines plus networking, organizations, and storage.  vCloud Director is also the console for the virtual machines themselves, meaning you can use that instead of ssh or Windows Remote Desktop.

Here I present some of the features of vCloud Director by showing you how to set up a simple Ubuntu virtual machine.

Browser Support

The vCloud Director requires a plugin to Firefox.  VMware says that plugin works with Firefox and 32-bit versions of IE.  Since not many people are using 32-bit versions of IE, I use it with Firefox. I have tried it with Chrome, but the plugin crashes there at times as well as 64-bit IE.  So use Firefox, since that is where it is supported.

When you open vCloud for the first time, the browser will download and install the plugin shown below:


How Create a new vApp and Virtual Machine with vCloud Director

A vApp is a collection of one or more virtual machines.  You create a new vApp from either your company’s or the public catalog of templates.  These templates are a collection of standard or customized Linux and Windows machines.  You can save them as templates to create additional virtual machines with similar storage profiles and hardware characteristics.

The set up screen is shown below.  As you can see, from here you can pick different versions of Linux.  Windows is available in another catalogue.

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 When you set up a vApp you indicate:

  • Memory in GB
  • Number of cpus
  • Number of cores
  • Direct network connection or connection to your VLAN or other network

You can use LDAP or specify a local root password here:

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 The virtual machines are listed in the screen below.  Here is where you power them on and off, make changes to the configuration, and login to the machine.

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 Click on the small square that represents the virtual machine to open up the console, where you log in as root, and not the user id that you used to log into vCloud Director.

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The mouse will be captured in the windows, so press (-ctl-)(-alt-) to release the mouse pointer back to your desktop or laptop PC.  (People always get stuck on that; it could be one of Google’s top VMware questions.)

From the vApps screen, you can create new virtual apps, which as I said before are a collection of one or more virtual machines.  For there you can also download vApps in OVF (Open Virtualization Format) files, in order to port them to another environment and deploy them with vCloud Director or the OVF command line tool.   You can also import a virtual machine from vSphere and make a point-in-time snapshot or revert to an existing snapshot.  If the snapshot checkbox is marked at the vApp level, that indicates that at least one of the machines in the vApp has a snapshot.

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Edge Gateway

The Edge Gateway is a software-defined network function that lets you handle multiple external networks.  There are 10 interfaces available.  Here you can configure DHCP, NAT, firewall rules, VPN, and static routing.  You can also configure the ports and URLs for health check monitoring and configure load balancing.  In the Edge Gateway, you add virtual servers and select the services the virtual server will provide (e.g., http, https, tcp).

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Storage Profiles

In vCloud Director, you configure storage pools with different storage characteristics and then assign them to virtual machines and template for virtual machines. Storage Profiles are defined by storage costs, replication support, and performance (latency).

VMware makes looking for available storage easier with VMware vSphere Storage DRS, which aggregates data storage into pools.  It assigns storage to the pool based on available disk space and storage latency.

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StratoGen provides you with vCloud Director to manage your vSphere environment to deliver a software defined datacenter, so that you can migrate toward your ultimate goal of having 100% of you x86 applications running on the VMware cloud.  Stratogen’s offering grows with the product, as VMware is continually adding new features, like multi-core fault tolerance to deliver additional application protection.  The vCloud Director console brings the administration function under one-web based interface to let you define Storage Profiles, vApps, Edge Networks, and virtual machines from one location.

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