By Jim Armstrong, Group Manager, vCloud Air Product Marketing

Yesterday at VMworld 2016, we announced the latest release of vCloud Air Hybrid Cloud Manager. The new version of Hybrid Cloud Manager is a big step forward in cloud connectivity, bringing the ability to migrate virtual machines to vCloud Air with zero downtime, delivering high-speed stretched network segments, and the ability to migrate NSX security policies to the cloud. In other words, the virtual machine, the network, and the security policy all migrate to vCloud Air from a customer’s on-premises data center. This is all powered by intelligent routing and networking technology under the covers.

It’s those “under the cover” bits that truly make the difference and as I write this, I’m about 30,000 feet above the ground and I’ve had an epiphany about flying and connecting to the cloud. It occurs to me that I have come to take flying in a 55-ton metal tube for granted. I’m to the point where I don’t even remember the actual taxi or take-off and don’t really pay attention to anything until I hear that familiar “Ding!” at the 10,000-foot level that signifies I can now dig out my laptop and watch a movie. Having said that, the thing that makes flying less than pleasant is the actual in-flight experience: seats that seem to have less and less leg room, arm rests made out of plastic that are harder than granite, unruly passengers, and food that manages to be both expensive and horrible.

“The devil is in the details,” as they say, but this is where I see a striking metaphor to getting a private data center connected to a cloud data center hundreds or thousands of miles away. Much like a flying hunk of tin, it’s an equally amazing feat of engineering – and equally taken for granted – that we can make a high speed connection to a data center hundreds of miles away.  It happens thousands of times every single day and nobody really notices (unless something goes wrong, of course).

In-Flight Turbulence

Similar to flying, the part of the cloud connection that still has room for improvement is the actual data and application movement experience. The perception of a cloud data center is that it is “over there” somewhere, wholly separate from your own site. If you want to migrate data and workloads to the cloud, you’re going to need a tool to move the bits, be prepared for anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours of downtime for the app, and you also have to design the networking interconnectivity. High speed lines will certainly help, but there are many complexities around IP address management, traffic routing at both the edge and across the WAN, and security as well. When that’s done you’ll need to ensure your apps can still connect to other apps in your IT estate too. And every cloud provider does this differently – not just from other cloud providers but probably from how you’ve done it in your own data centers.

New SD-WAN (software-defined WAN) technologies have entered the market to help simplify the complexity of connecting remote offices to MPLS networks. Most SD-WAN solutions are focused on the connectivity issue and they do a good job at solving many of the issues above: they optimize the connection, reduce traffic, and efficiently route from Point A to Point B, avoiding congestion so that you can treat your WAN like a private line connection. But for connecting your data center to vCloud Air, we need a solution that also understands that our networks are connecting to a cloud endpoint and there are certain implications for the usage of that connection.

Smoother Sailing in the Cloud with Hybrid Cloud Manager

Welcome aboard, ladies and gentlemen. This is your captain speaking and I have good news. Introducing the latest release of vCloud Air Hybrid Cloud Manager.  Whether you choose to connect to vCloud Air over the Internet or you want to go with one of our high-speed, low-latency Direct Connect options, Hybrid Cloud Manager helps optimize your connection to our cloud and enhances the migration of virtual machines (bi-directionally, of course).

With Hybrid Cloud Manager, customers have the following capabilities:

  • Make it exceedingly simple to move virtual machines, whether that means moving a live virtual machine in real-time or doing bulk migrations of 10s or 100s of virtual machines during scheduled cutover windows
  • Automatically understand the difference between virtual machine migration traffic and critical application traffic so that the heavier migration traffic does not overtake the available bandwidth from the relatively small, but critically important application traffic
  • Not only make the data center to vCloud Air connection, but actually stretch the network segment right out to the cloud so that an application can just “slide” right along the same virtual wire. That means no more hassle of manual routing or IP address changes.
  • Migrate the security policy from VMware NSX in the private data center out to vCloud Air so the application maintains its security policy

Watch the following demonstration of Hybrid Cloud Manager to see how customers can migrate applications from one environment to the other without having to issue maintenance windows.

Hybrid Cloud Manager offers vSphere users a seamless option for extending networking to the cloud via an optimized, software-defined WAN, which makes stretched networks perform closer to local networks and enables zero downtime migration of workloads to and from the cloud. All this, plus the ability to migrate NSX security policies to retain the same security controls in the cloud so that you can relax, sit back, and enjoy your flight. Ding!

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