Why AWS Developers Love VMware’s Lift and Learn Approach with VMware Cloud on AWS
Learn why AWS developers love VMware Cloud on AWS and want to present it to their internal platform team.
I had booth duty at the AWS Swiss Cloud Day 2022 and had the chance to finally talk to people that normally do not talk to VMware folks like me. I believe I had not a single infrastructure or cloud architect talking to me the whole day and I have been approached by Linux administrators and developers only. After I explained to them our partnership and capabilities with AWS, they were mind blown!
“Michael, what is VMware’s business with AWS?”
“Why are you here at the event, you are only a hypervisor company, right?“
“Haha, what are you guys doing here?“
“What is the reason for VMware coming here? You are a competitor of AWS, no?“
Developers don’t want to do ops
Look, the developers did not know, that I have no developer background and spent most of my time with data centers. I already built true hybrid clouds almost 10 years ago before we had all the different hyperscalers and providers like Amazon Web Services. After I passed the AWS Solutions Architect Associate and AWS Developer Associate exams a few months ago, I finally understood better how complex software development and cloud migrations must be.
It is said that developers do not want to deal with operational concerns. And other developers want to understand the production environment to make sure that their code work. Additionally, we have the shift-left approach that puts more pressure on the developer’s shoulders, they do not have time for ops.
But after talking to a few developers, I had a light-bulb moment and the following truths came to the surface:
- Developers had no clue how VMware can ease some of their pain
- Developers liked my talk about infrastructure and ops
- I need to bring more business cards to such events!!!
Developers are interested in infrastructure
Remember the questions from above? To answer the questions about VMware’s relevance or relationship with AWS, I used the first 2min to explain VMware Cloud on AWS to them. Yes, I started talking about infrastructure and not about Tanzu, developer experience, our open source projects, and contributions, or Tanzu Labs. The people visiting us at the booth were impressed that VMware and AWS have even specialists only focusing on this solution. Still, they were not convinced yet that VMware can do something good for them.
Okay, I got it. So what? What is the value?
How would someone with a VMware background answer such a question? Most of us usually see this situation as the right moment to talk about use cases like:
- Data center exit or refresh (infrastructure modernization)
- Burst Capacity
- Low latency to AWS native services
- Application modernization
- Cloud migrations
So, which of these use cases are relevant and important to developers?
The developer’s story
The developers confirmed some statements of mine:
- Cloud migrations take long and are not easy
- Lift & shift migrations involve a lot of manual tasks
- They either have to refactor their app on-premises first and then move to the public cloud or start from scratch on AWS
I say it again, software development is complex. Developers need to modernize existing applications on-premises and then migrate them somehow to AWS because you cannot always start from scratch.
Imagine this: You have an application that was deployed and operated for years in your data centers. Most probably you don’t even understand all the dependencies and configurations anymore since the years have passed. Maybe you are not even the guy who initially developed this application.
Note: The only thing that can be assumed, is, that your infrastructure is most likely running on a VMware-based cloud.
Now you need to start modernizing this application, which takes months or even years. When you are done with your task, you have to figure out how to bring this application over to AWS. Because you had to spend all your time refactoring this application, there was no time to build new AWS skills. At least not during normal office hours.
Lift and shift is easy, right?
Nope. When it would be easy, why does the migration in most cases take longer than expected and cost more than expected? When you have to exit a data center for any reason and need to bring some of your workloads over to a public cloud like AWS, then a lift and shift approach is the best and fastest approach. But somehow organizations do not see much value in using this approach during their cloud adoption. At least not with VMware.
But if a consulting firm or AWS themselves tell the customer, that lift and shift is a good idea, their customers suddenly see the benefit even if they have to add millions to their estimated budget. Consulting firms are not cheap, and neither are lift and shift projects with different underlying technologies like having VMware as the source site on-premises and AWS (or any other public cloud provider) as the destination. But hey, good for your company if they have this extra money.
Lift and shift brings no innovation
Different organizations have different agendas and goals. For some, solely running their virtual machines and containers, and using cloud native services is enough for them – no matter the costs. Others expect that economies of scale bring the necessary cost advantages over time while they implement and deliver innovation.
That is why some companies see lift and shift as the approach, which brings no innovation. It is complex, not easy, takes longer, costs more and in the end, you don’t use cloud native services (yet).
It is time now to change the perspective and narrative because I get why you think that lift and shift brings no innovation.
Forget Lift and Shift – Do Lift and Learn
So, our use case here is application modernization. A developer needs to modernize and migrate an application, ideally at the same time. No wonder why some of you may think that lift and shift brings no innovation: because you modernize later.
Developers struggle. They struggle very much. After I explained VMware Cloud on AWS and mentioned, that a lift and learn approach is the better way that makes their life much easier, they asked me for my business card. It took less than 24h until I received my first two e-mails to organize a meeting.
Give developers more time.
Developers and ops teams need to have enough time to skill up, to learn and understand the new things. You have to break and fix things first in the new world before you can truly understand it. They loved the idea of lift and learn:
- Lift and shift your applications first with VMware Cloud on AWS. A true hybrid cloud approach, where the technology format is the same (on-prem and on AWS), will speed up your cloud adoption timeline and therefore save costs. Your workload now runs in the public cloud. Check!
- Since the cloud migration didn’t take 12 months, but more something like 3-4 months, your developers can use the additional time to learn and understand how to build things on AWS! The developers are happy because they have less pressure now and can play around with new stuff.
- After they have understood the new world, they can start modernizing different parts of the application. What has started with a legacy/traditional application, becomes a hybrid application and eventually a fully modernized app over time.
The stepping stone to becoming cloud native
Some of you may think now that VMware and its solution with VMC on AWS is just a temporary solution before going completely, cloud native. Let us take a step back again quickly.
When I joined VMware in 2018, they talked about 70mio workloads running on their platform. This year at VMware Explore (formerly VMworld) they showed several 85mio VMware-based workloads. This is proof to me, that:
- the cloud adoption does not happen as fast as expected,
- on-premises data centers and VMware is not legacy,
- VMware is more than only a “hypervisor” company,
- cloud native and container-based workloads do not always make sense and
- virtual machines are still going to exist for a while.
These are some pointers to why AWS has this partnership with VMware. As you can see, VMware is very strategic and relevant and should be part of every cloud and application modernization conversation.
Call to action
Just because a lot of people say that developers do not care about ops and are not interested in talking to “infrastructure guys” like me, does not mean that this statement/assumption is true. My conversations from AWS Swiss Cloud Day 2022 clearly showed that developers need to know more about the options and value that companies like VMware can bring to the table.
Do not let developers only talk to developers. Do lift and learn.