Hyperconverged Infrastructure

How do I migrate from my legacy platforms to hyperconverged?

One of the scariest parts about embracing a paradigm shift in the data center is attempting to migrate systems to the new way of doing things. For a few customers, a fairly high amount of risk in the data center is tolerable. But for the rest of the world, the prospect of fallout from the migration impacting the business (and their bottom line) is a lot to stomach. Once one decides it’s worth making the change, how do they go about it? And how risky is it?

There are a number of intricate systems that make a robust hyperconverged solution what it is. But in a lot of cases, the most foundational parts of the platform are systems that the industry already knows and trusts. vSphere, Hyper-V, and KVM are commonly used as the basis for infrastructure or desktop virtualization in a legacy infrastructure, and hyperconvergence is no different. Many vendors support a variety of commercial hypervisors, and those who do not are typically using a variant of a trusted open source hypervisor.

The fact that HCI solutions are based on proven technology dramatically reduces the risk to your business, and the migration can now be seen as a shift in operational practices rather than a shift in technology. That’s not to say that hyperconverged solutions don’t bring with them large amounts of innovation and technology. But the bedrock of the solution being proven should inspire confidence.

It also means that the migration tends to be relatively simple, as the virtualization platform in use in the organization likely already has a mechanism to facilitate the migration. VMware vSphere is the most widely used virtualization platform in commercial venues, so it will make a good example. A migration from a legacy vSphere infrastructure to a hyperconverged vSphere infrastructure would proceed as follows (simplified for brevity):

  • Configure new hyperconverged system
  • Attach hyperconverged storage to existing vSphere hosts
  • Storage vMotion virtual machines to new datastore(s)
  • vMotion virtual machines to new hosts
  • Test/Validate connectivity, performance, functionality
  • Decommission old infrastructure

This migration involves no downtime, has a simple back-out plan (vMotion back to original location), and involves very little overhead in terms of enabling the migration. The platforms natively allow this migration to take place.

In the case where a migration is set to cross platforms, for instance a vSphere shop migrating to a hyperconverged platform that uses a fork of KVM, that vendor typically provides tools to help with the migration. Those tools help take existing workloads and swap out virtual hardware, OS drivers, and help automate moving them to the new platform.

Rest assured that your hyperconvergence vendor has considered this challenge, and if a migration path isn’t inherent in the foundational technology of the platform, they will have created a tool and have a skilled support team to help you with the migration project.