Nine Steps to Efficient, Practical VM and Container Migration

virtual machine migration

When you work in IT, you’re used to being asked to do more with less. While virtualization has been central to achieving this goal, it is, in itself, no longer enough. Key to delivering greater efficiency and optimal resource management is the ability to seamlessly migrate workloads to their most efficient location.

Imagine, for example, being able to ‘follow the sun’ by shifting virtual machine (VM) workloads across the globe, as utilization rises or falls. Or consider having the ability to export HPC workloads to the public cloud for testing and tuning, and then bring them back on-premises again when they are optimized to address the massive data sets needed in the production environment.

These are ideal scenarios of course, so how do you go about turning them into reality? What are the architectural and hardware decisions needed to achieve this flexibility and efficiency?

The nine steps
There are just nine simple steps IT organizations need to consider in order to achieve smooth and efficient container and VM migration.

1. Hot or cold migration?
Do you intend to close down workloads and spin them up somewhere else as a permanent move, effectively replicating the workload on a different cloud or data center? Or do you intend to migrate a ‘hot’ workload? Working out which workloads will be moved where, why, and how frequently is the key focus of migration strategy.

2. Workload placement
Working through a rigorous workload placement methodology can help to clarify decisions and optimize utilization and TCO. It’s important to identify which workloads it makes sense to keep on premises and modernize utilizing a hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) environment, and which it makes sense to migrate to public cloud. You can do this by thinking through key requirements for these workloads, like performance, availability, security and latency.

3. Management infrastructure
How are you going to oversee the management and automate the provision of virtualized services? The more comprehensive the management infrastructure, the easier it is to move VMs, maximize utilization, and propagate changes.

4. Data architecture
How do you solve the issue of data affinity when migrating VMs and workloads between various sites? For applications, accessing massive data sets then porting or replicating the data can be impractical. And, when using public cloud, economic complexity needs to be factored in.

5. Security
How do you keep data and VMs secure within and between environments? Maximizing network and data security, and data persistence, is critical in managing successful migrations as the VMs and data flow north-south (in and out of the system) and east-west (within the system).

6. Architectural compatibility
How do you make sure architectures in the different sites where you will be running your VMs are compatible? For successful migrations it is essential that factors like the number of cores in the processor along with the memory, storage and I/O architectures are compatible.

7. Maximizing utilization by understanding application frequency
How will you ensure that you neither under- nor over-provision? The ability to analyze the current workloads across the IT estate and how they are best placed is crucial.

8. Network infrastructure
How will you maximize network performance when data is going north-south rather than east-west? Maximizing the utilization of the network infrastructure is a critical component of the VM migration strategy. Network capacity should be neither under-utilized nor in danger of becoming a bottleneck.

9. Optimizing edge compute
How will you decide which data it makes sense to send to be ingested at a central data center and which not? Using AI and machine learning, the applications can be trained to only send the important data back to the data center, reducing the data deluge and preserving network bandwidth.

Intel’s technology innovation
As well as careful thought and planning around these nine points, smooth and efficient container and VM migration also requires the right infrastructure. And this is where the latest Intel® technologies can offer a real advantage. The 2nd Generation Intel® Xeon® Scalable processor, for example, provides excellent performance across all benchmarks. It supports excellent VM density per rack, as well as helping lower TCO and reduce power and cooling costs. Meanwhile, Intel® Optane™ DC persistent memory, which only works with the 2nd Gen Intel Xeon Scalable processors, uses advances in memory and storage architecture to radically reshape what is possible with system memory performance, density and TCO.

To read more about the nine steps and how to address them, as well as details of Intel’s technologies for smooth VM and container migration, download our white paper: Some Like it Hot – VM and Container Migration in Hybrid Cloud Environments.

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Todd Christ

About Todd Christ

Todd Christ is an Enterprise Solutions Architect at Intel Corporation. He is a dynamic, highly accomplished computer science professional with a deep history of leveraging novel technologies to develop solutions to chronic business challenges. Todd worked in several roles in Information Technology prior to his career shift to the Intel Datacenter Group where he currently promotes Software Defined Infrastructure models, solutions and technologies. Todd is a strong proponent of Hybrid Cloud strategies for Enterprise and Government markets. He has broad knowledge and success in engineering and development environments; he excels at qualifying, integrating, and testing diverse systems. Todd is a skilled trainer and project leader; able to direct multiple tasks effectively and readily master innovative software and tools.