Why Velostrata is (Way) Ahead of the Replication-Based Coud Migration Pack, Part II: Agents

By: Tom NiklMarch 16, 2017

Last week we kicked off a blog series that compares replication-based cloud migration solutions to Velostrata’s streaming-based solution. Our first blog in the series covered a crucial part of any migration project: testing. Today we’re going to shift gears a bit and investigate agents, an architectural component of most replication-based solutions but one which Velostrata avoids altogether.

When we talk about agents, we’re referring to an application that is running on the source VMs, the destination VMs, or both. In some cases, the agent might also be referred to as a ‘client’ (or even something else) but the intent remains the same: installing software on source and/or destination VMs to power a cloud migration. Although the agent is typically small they can still pose a number of challenges to both IT and the cloud project itself, so it’s important to consider these before you migrate:

  1. Deployment: Clients are typically small and organizations can usually deploy them using remote execution or software distribution tools, but it’s still ultimately burdensome on the cloud project (and IT) because it represents yet another group of steps that must be completed before anything is running in the cloud.
  2. Security: In some cases, IT must disable existing anti-virus software before they can properly install and run the agent. In other cases, IT must open specific ports on the VMs to allow agent communication. Both create potential security vulnerabilities for those VMs and the enterprise. The use of popular software packages such Java or .NET in these agents may also increase the VM attack surface for cyber threats, especially if an old version is in use.
  3. Testing: Any time you want to test out a new cloud provider (or region? Instance type? instance size? Etc.) you might end up having to install the agent on those new destination VMs, depending on how the solution is architected. All of this ends up taking a lot of additional time and energy during the cloud migration project, making these projects that much harder to scale.
  4. Labor: Regardless of how the agent is installed (manually or deployed), additional labor costs will accumulate. For example, the agent may require special procedures to stop the application and/or shut down the VM (which might mean getting the application team involved). Additionally, since the agent is required for the replication-based migration, it means you cannot shut down the VM while this process is taking place.

Knowing these drawbacks, some replication-based solutions will actually claim they are agent-less but even this might not be true. They base this on the idea that their solution quietly installs their agents automatically and in the background (instead of manually or via deployment tools). The agent is still a requirement even when it is installed stealthily, though, which means many of the above drawbacks will still apply and this may be an important point to clarify with any vendor.

It is because of all these drawbacks that we architected the Velostrata solution to simply avoids agents altogether. Instead, Velostrata relies on two virtual appliances (one in the cloud and one on-prem) which efficiently stream data back and forth as needed using patent-pending WAN optimizations. You’ll then use a convenient vCenter plug-in and kick off your cloud migrations (or testing) with just a few clicks. We’ll analyze the source VM, automatically adapt the destination VM, and then begin your workload in the cloud by streaming crucial boot data first (we’ll stream the remaining data quietly in the background while your workload runs).

We do all of this without any agents (not installed by IT, nor by Velostrata quietly in the background) so that the only thing running on your destination VM is what you had running on your source VM- without exception. Aligning with our list above, that means that Velostrata’s agent-less solution provides:

  1. Deployment: No agents whatsoever make it quick, simple, and easy.
  2. Security: No connections needed to the workload’s network, no disabling A/V, thus eliminating security risks.
  3. Testing: Easy to test as much as you’d like before migration with our built-in test-clone capability.
  4. Labor: No hidden labor here (since it’s all point and click), no agent deployment/installation, and no need to manually stop applications before migration (we’ll automatically use standard VM shutdown processes).

At the end of the day, Velostrata’s completely agent-less solution will save IT time, energy, and money. By eliminating agents, IT moves through their migrations quicker and easier, avoids potential security risks, avoids delays caused by other teams, and saves money by avoiding hidden labor costs. For most enterprises, cloud migrations are a game of inches, and even though agents seem benign, they end up costing enterprises a lot of inches over time.

We’d love to tell you more about Velostrata’s agent-less, streaming-based cloud migration and workload mobility solution: we’ve got this quick 3-minute video on what we do as well as this more detailed white paper on how our technology works. Or, if you’d like to talk to us, be sure to drop us a line!

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 various junk food. Find Tom on Twitter, too: @Tom_Nikl