AWS re:Invent 2017 Session Recap: How Cardinal Health used Velostrata to create their ‘Cloud Migration Factory’

By: Tom NiklDecember 5, 2017

Another year of the AWS re:Invent show has come and gone, and we’re happy to say it was a great show for Velostrata. We enjoyed chatting with the throng of folks who came by to talk about cloud migration and pickup one of our sweet fidget spinners. One of the biggest highlights for this year’s show, though, was the session that one of our customers, Cardinal Health, gave on their cloud migration success. Cardinal Health is a Fortune 20 company with over 37,000 worldwide employees and over 120 billion dollars in annual revenue. To put it mildly: they’re huge! And, as you might expect, so is their application landscape which they’re migrating to AWS.

Their session, ENT 320, which was titled “How a Global Healthcare Company Built a Migration Factory to Quickly Move Hundreds of Applications to AWS”, gave them a chance to talk about how they approached their massive cloud migration project. During their session, they outline what they accomplished during their first phase, what they learned in that first phase, and what they had in store for phase two which just started. We thought it might be helpful to give you a quick rundown in case you weren’t able to attend live.

To start, why did Cardinal Health decide it was time to move away from VMware and into AWS? There were some of the typical benefits like hardware/software savings and increased personnel efficiencies like self-service and automation. But, the big driver was actually to increase their IT agility in ways that would also increase their business agility. By increasing the speed, agility, and innovation of their IT landscape, they’re IT team is better able to support Cardinal’s own strategic business goals and help drive revenue.

For Cardinal’s 6,000+ system IT landscape, they decided it would be smartest to break up their migration into two phases. The first phase would focus on about 85% of their non-production systems, which translated into about 1,300 Windows and Linux systems. They outlined a number of key goals for this first phase:

  • Is there a migration solution we can rely on to craft a repeatable process to use at scale and achieve rapid, successful migration to AWS (a ‘cloud migration factory’, as they put it)?
  • Will the applications work in the cloud the way we need them to?
  • Were we able to migrate these systems at the cost we were aiming for?

Well, we’re certainly happy to report that Cardinal Health was indeed able to accomplish all of these goals during their first phase. After a brief pilot with Velostrata, they saw the power of being able to migrate quickly, with minimal downtime, and at scale. During the session, Brian Hanlin, Director of Cloud and Hosting Services at Cardinal Health, put it simply:

“Velostrata is the tool that we chose for the migration, which has been absolutely perfect for us. It worked very well, and it actually eliminated a lot of concerns and risks that we thought was going to be a problem for us as part of the migration project”.

With Velostrata as their cloud migration factory back bone, their phase 1 completed with strong results, where Cardinal Health:

  • Migrated 750+ of the targeted systems into AWS smoothly with Velostrata
  • Transitioned another 200+ systems that were due for a large application (or hardware) refresh by simply rebuilding them from scratch in AWS.
  • Retired 30% of systems altogether – VMs they just ended up deleting – which was a huge, but welcome, surprise. It also added even more cost savings and efficiencies to the project than originally projected.

To hear a few more of Brian’s thoughts on their results with Velostrata, check out this 60-second video below:

Like all good phased cloud migration projects, though, Cardinal Health did learn some valuable lessons throughout their phase 1 journey that they’re eager to apply to phase 2, things like:

  • Application discovery is crucial, but enterprises really need an automated solution to help with this. Otherwise, you can end up losing a lot of labor hours to this process manually. As a side note, this is why Velostrata is so excited about our new partnership with RISC Networks, a market leader in automated application discovery and assessment. It’s the best way to deliver a seamless, end-to-end cloud migration experience.
  • To truly accomplish a massive cloud migration at scale you need the right cloud migration solution. Having tested other cloud migration tools prior to using Velostrata, it was clear to Cardinal Health that picking the wrong solution would have been extremely hazardous to the success of the project, and that Velostrata was 100% the right choice.
  • Complex application interdependencies are often poorly understood at the project start, so doing this at the beginning is a big advantage, and making sure that applications are well documented by application owners can go a long way to mitigate this for future projects.
  • Finding a way to automate as much of the application testing and validation once running in the cloud is another crucial way to save labor hours and increase likelihood of project success.

With phase 1 complete, Cardinal Health is eager to apply the lessons learned (above) and dive into phase 2 which has just begun. For this phase, they’ll migrate 4,000+ production systems into AWS! For this, they’ll continue to rely on Velostrata for a bulk of these migrations, where Brian points out that “Velostrata has been [as simple as] right click, move, go, done. They’ve taken a lot of that heavy lifting off the plate for us”.

We’re excited to continue this cloud migration journey with Cardinal Health, and look forward to providing a phase 2 update sometime in the near future. In the meantime, if you’d like to learn more about Velostrata be sure to drop us a line, and you can also watch the entire Cardinal Health re:Invent session recording online if you’re interested.

Tom Nikl
Tom Nikl

Tom has spent twelve years leading product management and product marketing at technology companies large and small who focus on virtualization and cloud technologies. He currently blogs primarily about cloud migration, with an emphasis on overcoming challenges that companies face getting to the cloud and how to solve them. Prior to enterprise, Tom received a B.S. in Computer Science from San Jose State University. Outside of work he is an unabashed fan of Disney Theme Parks and delicious junk food.