Avi Networks Solutions Engineer Mitch Chen works with many enterprises moving to the cloud. We sat down with him to get some insights and tips about migrating applications to Microsoft Azure.
Why are so many companies migrating to the cloud?
Today, most companies are moving their workloads to the cloud. We are seeing this for two main reasons. First, IT departments are stretched so thin due to increased demand for compute resources that they are beginning to struggle to meet their service-level agreements. The cloud is a way for IT teams to do more with less. The second reason is that many management teams have made the strategic decision to get out of the business of running a data center. In both scenarios, cloud migration comes down to agility.
What are common pitfalls when migrating to the cloud?
Companies go to the cloud for agility, but agility is hard. Lots of things can slow you down, like lack of visibility. Troubleshooting is hard because it’s difficult to see what’s happening inside a public cloud. So a tool that provides visibility and troubleshooting ability in the cloud will be critical to success. Analytics are important to find out why things are slow or not working. Most clouds don’t provide all the intelligence you need to thrive in the cloud. Yet the benefits the cloud provides outweighs this limitation. Enterprises can set themselves up for success by investing in services that provide better visibility into their applications, end-users, and cloud infrastructure.
How can companies prepare for cloud migration?
You need to do your homework and understand what kind of workload you want to move to the cloud. This requires proper scoping and testing because once you move your application to the cloud, it can be hard to move it back on-premises again. Moving is difficult no matter what, which is why proper investigation is important.
What kind of homework is required for a successful migration?
Proper sizing and understanding your capacity requirement — both for expected and unexpected traffic. Based on the sizing you can determine what solution fits your growth needs. And you also need to plan for unexpected traffic surges.
Security is a major concern and you have to add capability. The chances of a massive attack are very real in a cloud-based environment. You need solutions that have the features to protect against or even brute force an attack. For example, we demonstrate Avi scaling to one million transactions per second in under 10 minutes. Having infrastructure that can elastically scale up and down to handle that kind of dynamic DDoS attack is important.
By doing your homework early, this will greatly reduce the time needed later to convert your test or staging environment into production. Your infrastructure will have already been tested and proven. Otherwise, you will be scrambling to do a complete migration to the Azure offering while having to re-do all your testing and sizing.
There is still work that needs to be done after a successful migration. For instance, you have to stay up-to-speed on any changes to the service-level agreement by the cloud provider.
What’s your advice about migrating to Azure?
If you go with Azure and only use Microsoft’s application delivery product, you’re going to hit a limitation. That’s when you need to look at other market solutions. This is the challenge which many of our customers run into. They initially move some of their applications to Azure and discovere compute and size limitations using Microsoft’s native application delivery software. So they reached out to Avi, a Microsoft partner, which could address those limitations.
Why would a company need Avi Vantage with Azure?
The native offering of a cloud provider can be just fine when you’re in a testing environment. But before going into production, companies need enterprise-grade features to secure the applications and ensure availability. Traditional application delivery solutions have the features enterprises need, but aren’t elastic or agile—which defeats the purpose of moving to the cloud. Avi’s solution offers elasticity and the features enterprises need to fully run their business. Avi’s core business is application delivery services, which isn’t the sole focus for Azure. This is why we have such a strong partnership.
Here’s another reason to consider Avi: You could use the native app delivery tool from the cloud provider, but then you are locked in to that cloud. If you start creating your automation using their basic functionality, that automation only works for that one cloud vendor. By bringing in Avi and integrating early, you can run the same automation in a multi-cloud environment. With Avi, the interface is consistent across multiple cloud vendors. No matter how you deploy — in your data center or in the cloud — you have consistent control and insight.
What are the hurdles if a company doesn’t use Avi when going to Azure?
The virtual editions of products like F5 are essentially virtualized appliances. They don’t provide the true benefits of the cloud — like on-demand elastic capacity. You get that with Avi, because Avi started as a cloud-native company. Avi designed its infrastructure and architecture based on a virtualized environment and cloud-based operations.
There’s a natural inclination to stay with the same application delivery solution when migrating to the cloud. Every migration is difficult so it’s tempting to keep some elements consistent. However a traditional hardware system like F5 isn’t built for the cloud and some companies discover that too late. In those instances, Avi offers a tool to move over from F5 to ease the Azure migration.