Cloud Services

28 Days Later, Physical to Cloud … Done

By: Justin Olivier and Valentin Hamburger

What if you could go from a physically chained application to a repeatable Hybrid Cloud vApp in 28 days? This is exactly a challenge a customer recently set the vCloud® Air™ EMEA team.

To put things into perspective, we’re not talking about a basic two tier web-app here, this is a monolithic beast based on multi-layer constructs with fragmented dependencies, some of which were not even fully understood by the customer.

To set the scene, the customer has a transaction based business model, which ultimately provides Software as a Service and yes; they have been doing this, albeit very expensively, on pure physical. The customer adheres to an SLA around the number of transactions processed and the consequent time lapsed in milliseconds. Any breach of this SLA incurs revenue-affecting consequences and so, understandably, the customer was looking at all options around increasing infrastructure resilience but also increasing flexibility while lowering infrastructure costs. The initial scope was for straight virtualization, however the vCloud Air environment became more compelling once the benefits around the frictionless extension of their data center into the cloud were fully understood by the customer.

Working with the customer, a mission statement was developed.

Mission Statement:

  • Bring the transaction-based application from physical to the cloud in one step;
  • Unlock DR potential in the process;
  • Cloning the application for repurposing via a one click deploy;
  • Pass extensive performance and feasibility testing.

This mission statement, in turn, surfaced some significant technical challenges around:

  • Transferring 6 TB of data to the cloud;
  • Running Oracle Databases in a cloud;
  • Building a virtual network to fit the application needs
    (routing, Firewall, etc…);
  • Decoupling the application from the datacenter to run in a giant vApp construct. (This would enable future one click repeatable deployments.)

Once the application was P2V’d we sized the requirement for the vCloud Air environment to be 220gHZ vCPU, 1300GB vRAM and 18TB of SSD accelerated storage provisioned on a vCloud Air Dedicated Cloud (vDC) option.

The application required the following in terms of architectural constructs within the vDC vAPP:

  • 19 Application Server VMs;
  • 6 Oracle DB VMs from 700 GB to 1.7 TB in size;
  • 1 x Gateway to provide access to the application;
  • 5 Different internal Networks:
    • App traffic;
    • DB traffic;
    • Management Traffic;
    • Heartbeat 1 (Oracle);
    • Heartbeat 2 (Oracle).

Below is a graphical representation of the environment:

graphical representation of environment

Once the technical architectural process was complete, we got onto the task of addressing some of the technical challenges mentioned earlier.

The upload of data required 2 Offline Data Transfer services, for details around this unique service offering from VMware vCloud Air please see the following:

Being able to “Bring your Own” licenses to the vCloud Air VDC enabled the ability to run the Oracle DBs as VMs and later benchmarking showed that the SSD accelerated storage tier provided better I/O throughput than the on-prem environment.

The networking, although initially thought to a fairly challenging piece of the puzzle, ultimately proved to be reasonably straightforward to achieve. What really helped was the full flexibility, which is achievable in a vCloud Air vDC.  This gave us the ability to provision a dedicated vAPP router to provide greater functionality than a vCloud Air edge appliance can provide. Because customers have full control of a vDC, this was achieved, though the use a dedicated VA network construct.

Decoupling the application, required close work directly with the customer in the P2V phase right through to the final functional testing phase. VMware’s TAM and Professional Services knowledge proved to be invaluable in this part of the process and coupled with full supportability from VMware’s GSS for on-prem as well for off-prem vCloud Air, these technical and project management challenges was addressed effectively.

The entire process took 28 Days for the new fully functional and repeatable cloud based application to be in place. This unlocked massive technical and business benefits for the customer some of which, listed below, were presented back to VMware by the customer in a POC debrief:

  • The SaaS application is now easily scalable with full on-demand functionality;
  • The Service can now be run on infrastructure, which is backed by a world-class GSS support based SLA;
  • DR options are now being explored through having the ability to copy the application back to an on-prem vSphere environment;
  • Test, Dev and UAT environments can be provisioned in minutes.

To sum up the whole experience, it specifically highlighted and proved that complex application deployments running on physical on-prem environments CAN be copied to vCloud Air in a straightforward manner. In this example, it was directly a result of the combination of tools, skillsets and experience VMware have developed though the years around the P2V process. Since vCloud Air is a seamless extension to any on-prem vSphere environment, the notion of a full P2C option became even more attainable.

For more information about vCloud Air, visit

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