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Previously, we described how vCloud Air is a public cloud designed especially for IT, solving a unique set of problems that cannot be addressed by other public clouds. In situations like mergers and acquisitions or for data consolidation projects, we talked about how vCloud Air can replace traditional physical data centers. In this blog, we will take a closer look at how vCloud Air can be an extension of your data center.

Back in 2003, VMware changed IT forever with the introduction of vMotion. To this day, IT administrators share stories of the first time they saw a vMotion. vMotion was impressive in live demonstrations, but more than that it delivered (and still delivers) countless benefits to IT administrators. It allows administrators to perform hardware maintenance without downtime, distribute and balance workloads across servers, and also helped pave the way to other vSphere innovations like our Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS) and Storage vMotion.

vMotion untethered workloads from their physical hosts, Storage vMotion untethered virtual disks from underlying storage arrays, and now VMware continues to lead innovation in this space by working to untether workloads from physical data centers altogether. As demonstrated at VMworld last summer, VMware is working to bring vMotion across clouds, and we are already delivering very low downtime migrations to vCloud Air today. These capabilities are changing how clouds are run.

Defining What Seamless Really Means

Extending your data center to the cloud conjures up visions of cloud compute, storage, and networks that are treated almost identically to compute, storage, and networks in your own data center. Ideally, an application would function identically in either location and may not even be aware of the fact that it’s running in a new location. Perhaps the move is short-term and as demands tails off the application can be brought back in-house, again with no disruption. We often talk to customers who describe issues provisioning internal infrastructure fast enough for application teams or troubles planning for capacity needs as workloads scale up and down. Other customers tell us they want to move certain tiers of applications to the cloud in order to focus on-premises resources on other use cases.

In these scenarios, the customer is not looking to replace or rebuild the existing applications, but rather they are looking at ways to supplement their own data centers. With innovations like Hybrid Cloud Manager and low or zero downtime migration, VMware is in the unique position to deliver a cloud service designed specifically to be an extension of your data center. In vCloud Air we can move the workloads to and from the cloud, we can extend on-premises layer 2 network segments to the cloud, and we work with VMware management tools like vCenter and the vRealize Suite. Companies can treat vCloud Air as a solution to improve their own data center operations, and not as a separate endpoint that requires its own tools, processes and staff.  For these customers, vCloud Air provides the flexibility to choose the destination for the application based on current needs, without feeling locked in to that decision.

Key Advantages for vCloud Air

vCloud Air is unparalleled in its ability to support data center extension scenarios. The entire platform is designed with the concept of a true hybrid cloud in mind. These advantages include:

  • 100% vSphere Compatibility – vCloud Air is based on vSphere which means both your legacy applications and new applications can run in vCloud Air unaltered and without the need for re-design nor re-architecture. This benefit applies not only to vCloud Air, but to our vCloud Air Network partners, as well, giving customer the choice to run their vSphere workloads wherever they choose.
  • Scalable, 2-Way App Portability – Hybrid Cloud Manager reduces time, risk and cost by seamlessly moving VMware workloads to and from vCloud Air, without the requirement to re-architect the application or the network. Hybrid Cloud Manager provides a secure, optimized tunnel which can replicate terabytes of virtual machine data, supporting low downtime migrations. In addition, Hybrid Cloud Manager allows you to not only move the VM but to actually stretch a layer 2 network from your on-premises environment into vCloud Air. Together, these capabilities allow you to treat vCloud Air virtual data centers as logical extensions of your own data centers.
  • True Hybrid Cloud Experience – Most of our customers today do not hire new talent to run vCloud Air: their existing vSphere administrators simply integrate vCloud Air into their day-to-day operations. Integration with vRealize Operations, vRealize Automation, and the vSphere Web Client, help unify IT operations across private and public clouds by delivering a single experience that uses your existing VMware tools and skillsets, a single billing portal, and the superior tech support that you know and trust.

Being built on the common foundation of vSphere, having integrations to VMware cloud management tools, intelligently connecting your data center to vCloud Air with Hybrid Cloud Manager, and mirroring your on-premises networking architecture with Advanced Networking Services all help to create the true hybrid cloud experience.

vCloud Air in Action

A large university was running out of data center space in their aging facility. They had limited options for new data center space given their time and budget and also faced the challenge of having to deal with some workloads that they weren’t sure they could even move. To make matters worse, some of these workloads had been running for years, but the application owner was long gone. Taking those workloads down for maintenance and moving them to a new location offsite was a big risk as they were uncertain if they could bring those applications back up, especially if they had to deal with networking changes as well.

With vCloud Air, the university IT staff had the ability to easily migrate hundreds of terabytes of data without changing any of the networking settings. Utilizing stretched networks into vCloud Air, they can move the virtual machines without having to change any IP or MAC addresses, meaning all the routing and other network settings remain intact.

We encourage you to visit this blog each Wednesday over the next several weeks where we’ll share more about each of the vCloud Air use cases and how they apply to your business. Next week, we’ll take a closer look at Disaster Recovery and Backup. In the meantime, you can learn more about VMware vCloud Air and how it helps organizations like yours extend private workloads into the cloud.

For more information on optimizing your data center, read Replacing Your Data Center is Simple with vCloud Air and VMware vCloud Air is the Nine Iron of Public Clouds.

Ready to get started with the hybrid cloud? Visit vCloud.VMware.com.

For future updates, follow us on Twitter and Facebook at @vCloud and Facebook.com/VMwarevCloud.