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Containers and Kubernetes, Anthos, Cloud Migration

Streamline Application Migration With Migrate for Anthos and GKE

By Mike Coleman | March 18, 2021

Most customers I talk to today are excited about the opportunities modernizing their workloads in the cloud affords them. In particular, they are very interested in how they can leverage Kubernetes to speed up application deployment while increasing security. Additionally, they are happy to turn over some cluster management responsibilities to Google Cloud's SREs so they can focus on solving core business challenges. 

However, moving VM-based applications to containers can present its own unique set of challenges: 

  • Assessing which applications are best suited for migration

  • Figuring out what is actually running inside virtual machine 

  • Setting up ingress and egress for migrated applications

  • Reconfiguring service discovery 

  • Adapting day 2 processes for patching and upgrading applications


While those challenges may seem daunting, Google Cloud has a tool that can help you easily solve them in a few clicks. Migrate for Anthos helps automate the process of moving your applications - whether they are Linux or Windows - from various virtual machine environments to containers. There is even a specialized capability to migrate Websphere applications. 

Your source VMs can be running in GCP, AWS, Azure or VMware. Once the workload has been containerized, it can then be easily deployed to Kubernetes running in either a GKE or an Anthos cluster on GCP, AWS or VMware. Let's walk through the migration process together and I will show you how Migrate for Anthos can help you easily and efficiently migrate virtual machines to containers 

The first step in any application migration journey is to determine which applications are suitable for migration. I always recommend picking a few low risk applications with a high probability of success. This allows your team to build knowledge and process while simultaneously establishing credibility. Migrate for Anthos has an application assessment component that will inspect the applications running inside your VM and provide guidance on the likelihood of success. There are different tools for Windows and Linux, and for Websphere applications we leverage tooling directly from IBM. 

After you've chosen a good migration candidate the next step is to perform the actual migration. Migrate for Anthos breaks this down into a couple of discrete steps. First, Migrate for Anthos will do a dry run where it inspects the virtual machine and determines what is actually running in the virtual machine. The artifact from this step is a migration plan in the form of a YAML file. 

Next, review the YAML file and adjust any settings you want to change. For instance, if you were migrating a database you would want to update the YAML file with the point in the file system to mount the persistent volume to hold the database's data. 

After you've reviewed and adjusted the migration YAML, you can perform the actual migration. This process will create a couple of key artifacts. The first is a Docker container image. The second is the matching Dockerfile, and a Kubernetes deployment YAML that includes definitions for all the relevant primitives (services, pods, stateful sets, etc). 

The Docker image that is created is actually built using a multi-stage build leverating two different images. The first is the Migrate for Anthos runtime, the second includes the workload extracted from the source VM. This is important to understand as you plan Day 2 operations. This Dockerfile can be edited to update not only the underlying Migrate for Anthos runtime layer, but also the application components. And while not mandatory, you can easily manage all that through a CI/CD pipeline. 

If you want to ease complexity and accelerate your cloud migration journey, I highly recommend you check out Migrate for Anthos. Watch the videos I linked up above, and then get your hands on the keyboard and try out our  Quiklab.

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