The reality of workload portability across clouds

May 05, 2022
Multi Cloud

Moving workloads across clouds doesn’t have to be an empty promise.

Credit: iStock/Rick_Jo

Businesses are investing substantial funds and efforts into migrating workloads from on-premises infrastructure to public clouds, in part motivated by the hypothesis that, once cloud-based, those workloads will be relatively easy to move from one cloud provider to another. Unfortunately, the reality is unlikely to be so simple.

It’s been estimated that about half of all workloads running in cloud are “lift and shift” migrations that aim to replicate existing on-premises workloads into a more cost-efficient, scalable, and flexible environment.

Migration shouldn’t be one-way only, as needs and business circumstances (along with vendor performance issues) may dictate a change in the future. IT should be able to move relatively at will a program or service from one infrastructure environment to another, such as from an on-premises data center to the public cloud, from one cloud provider to another, or from the cloud back to on-prem infrastructure.

Achieving such portability requires organizations to create and maintain hybrid connectivity for application migration and ongoing workload rebalancing. No matter what platform they are running on, they must always meet security, compliance, performance, availability, and financial needs.

Workloads encompass applications and a range of often-platform-specific dependencies, such as virtual machines (VMs), servers, and data. So, moving a workload from one environment to another without any code modifications is inherently a complex undertaking.

“Different cloud providers have their own APIs, semantics, capabilities, syntax, and other nuances that make workload portability one of the most challenging forms of multi-cloud portability,” writes Armon Dadgar, CTO and co-founder of infrastructure automation software company HashiCorp.

While multi-cloud architectures are complex today, they will only become more so in the future. Cloud providers operate very differently from on-premises data centers and local VMs. New security protocols must be adopted to ensure both cloud-based and on-premises components are secure end to end. The compatibility of source and destination platforms, and the selection of migration tools, can impact the speed and cost of migration efforts. But business executives don’t want complexity; they want consistency across their environment.

VMware’s success was built in part on providing the ability to seamlessly migrate virtual machines across platforms and enabling a highly secure, highly reliable infrastructure that gives organizations the flexibility to move workloads as needed to best meet business demands. VMware HCX was created to streamline application migration, workload rebalancing, and business continuity across data centers and clouds.

Designed to enable high-performance, large-scale app mobility across VMware vSphere and non-vSphere cloud and on-premises environments, HCX can operationalize multi-cloud by actively moving and rebalancing workloads as needed for scale, compliance, security, and cost management.

VMware Cloud Universal offers multi-cloud subscription purchase and consumption flexibility across comprehensive solution choices. VMware HCX is interoperable with VMware Cloud Universal for workload portability across hybrid, private, edge, and public clouds. Together, they provide the consistent infrastructure and standardized, validated architecture on which to move data center workloads to a hybrid cloud; move native cloud workloads to a data center or the edge; and natively manage apps and workloads in multiple public clouds.

VMware Cloud Universal with VMware HCX also ensures business continuity through the multi-cloud and IT transformation journey by:

  • Combining automated network connectivity and optimized data replication to easily connect environments, protect critical applications and ensure availability. 
  • Performing a bulk migration of live VMs with movement of hundreds of VMs in parallel
  • Simplifying migration planning with embedded tools that easily identify application and workload relationships, and logically group VMs for efficient migration.
  • Enabling mobility across data centers and multiple clouds, whether from your local data center to any cloud, or across cloud regions or provider to optimize resource utilization.

To find out how VMware Cloud Universal with VMware HCX can simplify workload and application portability across multiple infrastructure environments, go to