Building a Dynamic Hybrid Cloud with vRealize Automation and Velostrata

September 8, 2016

Ben Hagai

For many organizations, vRealize Automation (vRA) serves as the main consumption portal for their hybrid cloud, which serves a number of IT-related services.

Velostrata’s mission is to give organizations the power of cloud workload mobility, and the ability to create a real-time, multi-vendor hybrid cloud quickly, simply and without risk. Velostrata’s hybrid cloud can now be achieved easily and consumed via vRA. Velostrata enhances vRA native capabilities and enables vRA customers to extend their private cloud to the public cloud (and thus create hybrid cloud) within minutes.

This workload mobility can be used in various use cases in combination with vRA:

  • Capacity on demand – Fulfill new and dynamically changing demands by moving existing workloads (VMs/items/deployments) to the cloud, even scaling them up in the process. Keep the storage on-premises or move it to the cloud in the background while the workload is already running in the public cloud.
  • Provisioning new environments in the public cloud – These environments can be for Dev/Test or production applications, extending the virtual datacenter to almost any location worldwide without any complex preparation or investment. No templates/catalog replication needed.
  • Testing a live on-premises application in the cloud – Substantially reduce testing time and associated costs by testing even the most complex, multi-tier applications in the cloud; create and tear down large environments in minutes, with no replication needed.
  • Cloud Workload Mobility – Move workloads to the cloud, back to on-premises or change cloud providers at any time, in a matter of minutes.

Velostrata integration with VMware vRealize Automation for Fast, Easy, Low-Risk Hybrid Cloud

Capacity on Demand – Migrating an Application to the Cloud

The ability to move an application to the cloud quickly can be useful in many scenarios, whether to answer peak demand, scale up, create temporary test environments or even support full application migration permanently to the cloud. Velostrata presents an innovative approach by decoupling the VMs from the VMDKs, allowing the VM to be moved to the cloud in minutes, while the application continues to run with normal performance, despite the WAN. This means any application – regardless of image size – can be migrated to the cloud within about 5 minutes, because you don’t have to move storage first. Velostrata takes care of all adaptations necessary to run the application in the cloud and assures comparable (and sometimes better) performance to on-premises, despite the latency.

In vRA, this functionality can be accessed via the “items” page, as one of the resource actions (a.k.a “Day 2” operations), either on a VM, or on a Deployment (a.k.a multi-machine blueprint.)

Performing migration to the cloud using vRA is highlighted in the following screens:

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Figure 1: Migrating a vRA deployment (multi-machine) to the cloud using from the items list

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Figure 2:  Migrating a vRA deployment (multi-machine) to the cloud using item details page

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Figure 3: Migrating a vRA VM to the cloud using VM details page

This resource action will open a new request form, requesting destination cloud details all fields are dynamically retrieved from Velostrata inventory and the cloud provider APIs.

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Figure 4: Request form – Migrating a vRA VM/Deployment to the cloud

Approval policy can be set to approve this consumption of external resources in exactly the same way as vRA approval policy is set for any service consumption.

Once the action is completed, the workload will be running in the public cloud, but will still be accessible using the same DNS name, etc.

Velostrata “Run in Cloud” using vRA

Provisioning a New VM/Application to the Cloud

vRA is often used to request the provisioning of new VMs/applications, usually from an existing template in vSphere. Velostrata enhances this capability and allows the creation of new VMs/applications in the public cloud without moving the storage or templates.

A vRA user can now provision from the on-premises catalog to any AWS/Azure region (Figure 5).

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Figure 5: From the vRA catalog for “Velostrata Hybrid Cloud service” select “Provision to Cloud”

The request form dynamically retrieves details from Velostrata, Cloud APIs, and vCenter, and can be customized accordingly (Figure 6).

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Figure 6: Request form for “Provision to Cloud”

The new VM created will appear in vCenter inventory, so it can be easily managed, and if desired in the future moved back or moved to a different cloud. The VM can be a clone of the template, but in most cases will actually be a thin linked clone (a native VMware capability that creates a VM from a parent VM snapshot) that will be moved in the cloud. The on-premise overhead for these VMs is typically less than 50MB of storage.

On the same topic, a recent Velostrata customer used this integration to create a single service that will ask the user for provisioning details: do they want their resources deployed on-premises or in the public cloud? On-premises requests are fulfilled without approval, based on the group allocation, while public cloud requests will be routed for approval. (See Figures 7, 8 and 9).

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Figure 7: Single catalog service to request either on-premises or cloud instance

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Figure 8: When selecting vSphere, fill in the VM specification

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Figure 9: When selecting cloud, fill in the cloud specification and new VM name

“Test-in-Cloud” – Cloning Live Production Applications to the Public Cloud

In this use case, rather than having a generic template, there is a running application (with associated data), and we would like to perform various tests on this application, or test against different configurations without interfering to the live “production” system.

Velostrata + vRA enables the customer to create a clone of the live environment and then run this clone in the cloud in minutes. The clone will be a “linked clone,” meaning it’ll have very minimal overhead on the local vSphere environment, but will have full access to the entire data set of the production application.

Think about the value of this unique capability for your next ERP/CRM system test/upgrade. Not only can you clone and test without concern for the data, but leveraging the public cloud’s scalability and pay as you go model can cut costs compared to the tremendous resources that would be typically reserved on-premises for such testing.

For this use case, we recommend that you deploy the clone in an isolated network/environment and/or to use “Write Isolation” which will ensure minimized effect on the on-premises environment. A few simple steps are needed: select ‘Test in Cloud’ from vCenter, and then provide specifications for the test environment, as shown in Figure 10 and 11.

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Figure 10: Test in cloud resource action on a deployment

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Figure 11: Request form for Test In Cloud

Cloud Mobility – Moving Back to On-Premises or Between Public Clouds  

Velostrata not only enables very easy migration to the cloud, but also migration back on-premises or between clouds. This is possible because Velostrata syncs storage and cloud changes to the on-premises vSphere storage (asynchronously, to ensure write performance) in a compressed, optimized fashion.

Cloud mobility is a very important use case for many of our customers. Some wish to avoid cloud vendor lock-in, while some just want to make sure they have a “usable copy” of their application at their disposal for security/compliance/DR purposes.  To make this mobility more accessible, we have created a new service in vRA called “Cloud Mobility.”

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Figure 12: “Cloud Mobility” service in the vRA Velostrata catalog service

After selecting Cloud Mobility, complete the details for your request as shown in Figure 13.

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Figure 13: Cloud Mobility vRA request form

Velostrata will typically move the workload within 10-15 minutes. For more information on how Velostrata Cloud Workload Mobility works, visit our technology pages.

Summary

Velostrata software provides a non-disruptive, low-risk platform that gives IT managers the ability to form a true multi-vendor hybrid cloud and complete control over migrating production workloads to the public cloud. Our patent pending technology uniquely decouples compute from storage, and makes it possible to move compute to the cloud in minutes–while controlling and automating where storage resides–on premises, in the cloud, or a combination of both. With Velostrata, you can move applications to and from AWS or Azure without re-writing your applications, modifying the image, or changing your management processes. It’s as simple as clicking a button and selecting “Run in Cloud.” Velostrata does the rest.

The vRA integration compliments Velostrata’s existing vCenter plugin, PowerShell module and REST API, giving users ease of access and integration to their hybrid cloud management platform. Organizations can now take advantage of the public cloud with ease and efficiency, right size their data centers, reduce development/testing cycles by leveraging instant cloud scale, meet changing business demands quickly, and reduce migration risk. To learn more about Velostrata use cases, check out some of our other demo videos.