Migrating Virtual Machines to the AWS Cloud

Migrating Virtual Machines: why?

In this blog post, we’ll discuss how to migrate your on-premise virtual machines to AWS – focusing mostly on the forklift method – along with key prerequisites and limitations.

Cloud Computing can be described as a metered data center service for running applications at global scale. Instead of having to invest heavily in data centers and physical servers, you can use a cloud computing provider’s servers and only pay for the computing resources you actually consume. Now there’s no need to desperately guess at your future capacity needs: you can access as much or as little as you need, and scale up and down as required. With Cloud Computing, you can easily deploy your application in multiple regions around the world with just a few clicks and provide lower latency and a better experience for your customers at minimal cost. By migrating your application to the cloud you can save on power, cooling, administration, and software licensing costs. Once the move is complete, you’ll be free to concentrate on your application, not on infrastructure

Migrating virtual machines (and the applications they’re running) to the cloud can be cumbersome and complicated unless you use the right tools for the job. Amazon Web Services offers a variety of ways to migrate your applications and servers.

Migration Methods

Forklift: the forklift, or Lift&Shift, a method is best suited for moving a legacy application to the cloud. That is, rather than moving single system components over time, you forklift the whole environment, with all its complex dependencies, in one go.

Hybrid migration strategy: Rather than moving the entire server all at once, individual parts of the application can be moved. This can reduce the risk of unexpected behavior after migration and it is ideal for 3 Tier applications.

Leverage the cloud: Redesign the application with AWS in mind. It might cost a bit more up front, but embedding scalable and manageable services like auto-scaling and edge caching of static content can greatly reduce administration activities – and costs – over the long haul.

Migrating Virtual Machines: the Forklift method:

Let’s look at forklifts in detail:

Fork-Lift VM Migration Workflow
Migrating Virtual Machines: forklift method workflow

1.Identify VM for Lift & Shift

Pre-Requisites

  • Operating systems that can be imported into EC2, Windows: Windows Server 2012 R2 (Standard), Windows Server 2012 (Standard, Datacenter), Windows Server 2008 R2 (Standard, Datacenter, Enterprise),Windows Server 2008 (Standard, Datacenter, Enterprise), Windows Server 2003 R2 (Standard, Datacenter, Enterprise), Windows Server 2003 (Standard, Datacenter, Enterprise) with Service Pack 1 (SP1) or later
  • Linux: Linux/Unix (64-bit)- Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 5.1-5.10, 6.1-6.5, CentOS 5.1-5.10, 6.1-6.5, Ubuntu 12.04, 12.10, 13.04, 13.10, Debian 6.0.0-6.0.8, 7.0.0-7.2.0 (RHEL 6.0 is unsupported because it lacks the drivers required to run on Amazon EC2).
  • Image-Formats Supported: RAW format, VHD, VMDK, (you can only import VMDK files into Amazon EC2 that were created through the OVF export process in VMware).

Limitations

  • Imported Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) instances must use Cloud Access (BYOL) licenses.
  • Imported Linux instances must use 64-bit images. Importing 32-bit Linux images is not supported.
  • Expanded disk image of an imported compressed image cannot exceed 1 TB.
  • Make sure your VM only uses a single disk. Importing a VM using more than one disk is not supported. For Linux VMs, /boot and / can be located in different partitions, but they need to be on the same disk.
  • This method is not recommended for deployments relying on shared storage or very large storage devices.

2.Install the AWS CLI

In order to initiate and manage the migration (import), you’ll need to install the Ec2 CLI tools on the machine where the source images reside. You can refer to AWS documentation for installing CLI tools or view the first video of How to Use the AWS Command-Line Interface course.

3.Migrating virtual machines: prepare your VM

  • Uninstall the VMWare Tools from your VMWare VM.
  • Disconnect any CD-ROM drives (virtual or physical).
  • Set your network to DHCP instead of a static IP address. If you want to assign a static private IP address, be sure to use a non-reserved private IP address in your VPC subnet.
  • Shut down your VM before exporting it.
  • On Windows, enable Remote Desktop (RDP) for remote access, and on Linux enable SSH server access.
  • Allow RDP and SSH access through your host firewall if you have one.
  • Use secure passwords for your all user accounts and disable Auto logon on your Windows VM.
  • Make sure that your Linux VM uses GRUB (GRUB legacy) or GRUB 2 as its boot loader.
  • Make sure that your Linux VM uses one of the following root file systems: EXT2, EXT3, EXT4, Btrfs, JFS, or XFS.
  • Export your VM from its virtual environment for VMware and Microsoft Hyper-V.

4.Execute the VM Export

  • Use ec2-import-instance to create a new import instance task:

ec2-import-instance disk_image_filename -f file_format -t instance_type -a architecture -b s3_bucket_name -o owner -w secret_key -p platform_name

5.Check the VM import status

  • The ec2-describe-conversion-tasks command returns the status of an import task
  • Status values include: active, canceling, canceled, and completed
  • Check the status of your import task:

ec2-describe-conversion-tasks task_id

6.Start your Ec2 Instance

  • Login to your AWS console.
  • In the navigation pane, click Instances.
  • Note the instance ID from VM import status, right-click the instance, select Instance State, and then click Start.

Migrating virtual machines: conclusion

This is one common scenario for migrating virtual machines to AWS.

Before choosing any particular migration approach, make sure you understand both its prerequisites and limitations…then boldly migrate to the cloud!

Avatar

Written by

Nitheesh Poojary

My professional IT career began nine years back when I was just out of my college. I worked with a great team as an infrastructure management engineer, managing hundreds of enterprise application servers. I found my passion when I got the opportunity to work with Cloud technologies: I'm addicted to AWS Cloud Services, DevOps engineering, and all the cloud tools and technologies that make engineers' lives easier. Currently, I am working as a Solution Architect in SixNines IT. We are an experienced team of engineers that have helped hundreds of customers move to the cloud responsibly. I have achieved 5 AWS certifications, happily helping fellow engineers across the globe through my blogs and answering questions in various forums.


Related Posts

Amanda Cross
Amanda Cross
— January 7, 2021

New Content: AWS Terraform, Java Programming Lab Challenges, Azure DP-900 & DP-300 Certification Exam Prep, Plus Plenty More Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Big Data Courses

This month our Content Team continues building the catalog of courses for everyone learning about AWS, GCP, and Microsoft Azure. In addition, this month’s updates include several Java programming lab challenges and a couple of courses on big data. In total, we released five new learning...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • DevOps
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • Machine Learning
  • programming
Avatar
Stuart Scott
— December 17, 2020

Where Should You Be Focusing Your AWS Security Efforts?

Another day, another re:Invent session! This time I listened to Stephen Schmidt’s session, “AWS Security: Where we've been, where we're going.” Amongst covering the highlights of AWS security during 2020, a number of newly added AWS features/services were discussed, including: AWS Audit...

Read more
  • AWS
  • AWS re:Invent
  • cloud security
Joe Nemer
Joe Nemer
— December 4, 2020

AWS re:Invent: 2020 Keynote Top Highlights and More

We’ve gotten through the first five days of the special all-virtual 2020 edition of AWS re:Invent. It’s always a really exciting time for practitioners in the field to see what features and services AWS has cooked up for the year ahead.  This year’s conference is a marathon and not a...

Read more
  • AWS
  • AWS Glue Elastic Views
  • AWS re:Invent
Bryony Harrower
Bryony Harrower
— November 6, 2020

WARNING: Great Cloud Content Ahead

At Cloud Academy, content is at the heart of what we do. We work with the world’s leading cloud and operations teams to develop video courses and learning paths that accelerate teams and drive digital transformation. First and foremost, we listen to our customers’ needs and we stay ahea...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • content roadmap
  • GCP
Joe Nemer
Joe Nemer
— October 25, 2020

Excelling in AWS, Azure, and Beyond – How Danut Prisacaru Prepares for the Future

Meet Danut Prisacaru. Danut has been a Software Architect for the past 10 years and has been involved in Software Engineering for 30 years. He’s passionate about software and learning, and jokes that coding is basically the only thing he can do well (!). We think his enthusiasm shines t...

Read more
  • AWS
  • careers
  • champions
  • upskilling
Joe Nemer
Joe Nemer
— October 14, 2020

New Content: AWS Data Analytics – Specialty Certification, Azure AI-900 Certification, Plus New Learning Paths, Courses, Labs, and More

This month our Content Team released two big certification Learning Paths: the AWS Certified Data Analytics - Speciality, and the Azure AI Fundamentals AI-900. In total, we released four new Learning Paths, 16 courses, 24 assessments, and 11 labs.  New content on Cloud Academy At any ...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • DevOps
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • Machine Learning
  • programming
Joe Nemer
Joe Nemer
— September 15, 2020

New Content: Azure DP-100 Certification, Alibaba Cloud Certified Associate Prep, 13 Security Labs, and Much More

This past month our Content Team served up a heaping spoonful of new and updated content. Not only did our experts release the brand new Azure DP-100 Certification Learning Path, but they also created 18 new hands-on labs — and so much more! New content on Cloud Academy At any time, y...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • DevOps
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • Machine Learning
  • programming
Joe Nemer
Joe Nemer
— August 28, 2020

AWS Certification Practice Exam: What to Expect from Test Questions

If you’re building applications on the AWS cloud or looking to get started in cloud computing, certification is a way to build deep knowledge in key services unique to the AWS platform. AWS currently offers 12 certifications that cover major cloud roles including Solutions Architect, De...

Read more
  • AWS
  • AWS Certifications
Patrick Navarro
Patrick Navarro
— August 25, 2020

Overcoming Unprecedented Business Challenges with AWS

From auto-scaling applications with high availability to video conferencing that’s used by everyone, every day —  cloud technology has never been more popular or in-demand. But what does this mean for experienced cloud professionals and the challenges they face as they carve out a new p...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Cloud Adoption
  • digital transformation
Avatar
Andrew Larkin
— August 18, 2020

Constant Content: Cloud Academy’s Q3 2020 Roadmap

Hello —  Andy Larkin here, VP of Content at Cloud Academy. I am pleased to release our roadmap for the next three months of 2020 — August through October. Let me walk you through the content we have planned for you and how this content can help you gain skills, get certified, and...

Read more
  • alibaba
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • content roadmap
  • Content updates
  • DevOps
  • GCP
  • Google Cloud
  • New content
Alisha Reyes
Alisha Reyes
— August 5, 2020

New Content: Alibaba, Azure AZ-303 and AZ-304, Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) Foundation, Python 3 Programming, 16 Hands-on Labs, and Much More

This month our Content Team did an amazing job at publishing and updating a ton of new content. Not only did our experts release the brand new AZ-303 and AZ-304 Certification Learning Paths, but they also created 16 new hands-on labs — and so much more! New content on Cloud Academy At...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • DevOps
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • Machine Learning
  • programming
Alisha Reyes
Alisha Reyes
— July 16, 2020

Blog Digest: Which Certifications Should I Get?, The 12 Microsoft Azure Certifications, 6 Ways to Prevent a Data Breach, and More

This month, we were excited to announce that Cloud Academy was recognized in the G2 Summer 2020 reports! These reports highlight the top-rated solutions in the industry, as chosen by the source that matters most: customers. We're grateful to have been nominated as a High Performer in se...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • blog digest
  • Certifications
  • Cloud Academy
  • OWASP
  • OWASP Top 10
  • Security
  • VPCs