Boomerang to beam your VMs

Recently I got an opportunity to take BoomerangTM for a spin. I wasn’t familiar with the product prior to this opportunity. Boomerang allows you to move your VMware vSphere workloads to Amazon AWS. It allows you to do the following:

  1. Move your load to AWS
  2. Use AWS as a DR or backup
  3. Bring your load back from AWS to your vSphere environment

Boomerang has a very simple deployment, perhaps which would explain the absence of countless PDFs on their website. The steps to get going are simple. You will need the following:

  1. A vSphere environment
  2. An AWS account
  3. Connectivity between 1 and 2

To get started, you will download an appliance which is right under 600MB. Once deployed, the appliance can be powered on. It will acquire an IP address if DHCP is enabled and publish that in the summary page of the appliance in the vSphere client. But if DHCP is not enabled, accessing the appliance becomes a little interesting. I found some details here. Luckily for me I have DHCP available and was simply able to hit the appliance acquired IP once it was up. The default username and password are both ‘admin’ and it would obviously make sense for you to change them to something else. When you provide the appliance with the default credentials, you will be asked to provide the license key and the email associated with it. This will also be a good opportunity for you to change your default password. With a few other choices to make you will be ready to rock and roll within seconds.

In the Boomerang world you have the option to create protection groups that serve as containers. These containers are made up of VMs. In order to create a protection group, you will need to provide the following:

  1. vSphere admin credentials
  2. vSphere IP/DNS
  3. AWS access key
  4. AWS secret key
  5. S3 Bucket name

Once you provide this information, you will be able to create a protection group. In my case I used a PHDVBA appliance I had laying around. My only reason for picking this versus others was its smaller disk footprint. It would have been relatively faster for me to move this to and from AWS considering my Internet connection is not the fastest.

Selecting the VMs you want to be added in your protection group is a breeze. You are provided with a list of VMs that are discovered in your environment. You will have the two views to choose from:

Protection Group

Protection Group

Just selecting the checkbox is required. One thing to note here is that in the folder view, you have the option to select individual disks along with the option to include any future disk as part of the protection group. This will ensure new disks are also replicated to AWS. Once the appropriate selection is made, you are now ready to start your replication.

Protection Group

My replication only consisted of a single VM. The initial replication as expected will take some time. There are a few settings to explore while your replication is in process. But you will likely get bored as I did because there aren’t very many options. They have kept things simple here and the tool does exactly what it’s advertised to do.

Replication

Once my replication ended without any events, the “Deploy Now” option becomes available. This will basically power on the VM in AWS.

Deployed

 

When you try to deploy the load, you will be asked if the stack name needs to be changed and if existing or new VPC (AWS Virtual Private Cloud) will be used to run this load.

Deploy1

At this point hitting the “Deploy Now” button will begin the process of getting your uploaded data in your S3 bucket and converting that into a running instance inside AWS. This can take several minutes. Mine took about over an hour. Below are some of the logs from the Deploy job to give you an idea of what happens between Boomerang and AWS.

DeployedLogsOnce the VM is deployed the status is updated in the protected group details and dashboard.

Deployed

DeployedAt this point you will be able to see the VM as a running instance in your EC2 environment based on the parameters you supplied during the deploy process.

EC2

At this point your VM has now left your existing environment and joined your VMs in the AWS world. You can now delete your original VMs and regain capacity locally. You can also bring the VM back into your datacenter from AWS which is exactly what we will do to simulate migration both ways.

To do this, you will simply have to click the “copyback now” button at the detail screen of the protected group. You will simply check the server you are interested in and move on to the next step.

Copyback

The next screen will ask you for some basic information like the vCenter Data Center name, host name, data-store and virtual network information. Upon providing these, you can sit back and grab a cup of coffee as Boomerang brings your load back from AWS. The idea of cloud being a Hotel California like destination will no longer make sense to you.

Copydestnation

You can watch the progress of the job in the protected group dashboard.

CopyProgress

Again, because of what the copy-back does under the hood, this may take some time. Here is a little snapshot of some of the jobs that take place in the background when we request a copy-back.

Copyback logs

At the end of the copy process, your VM is registered in your vSphere environment and can be powered on. At this time you have moved your VM from your DC to AWS and back.

While this is a very simple and effective tool if you have a vSphere and an AWS environment or have vSphere and are thinking about leveraging AWS as well, I want to point out don’t expect it to make your applications just work. This tool does exactly what it’s marketed to do. It moves your load from vSphere to AWS and back. How your applications will perform and their compatibility, network requirements etc. are totally out of scope. Obviously that is something extremely important to consider before making that move. With that being said, you can copy your load to AWS using Boomerang while letting your production load run in your DC. Once you are satisfied with your testing in AWS perhaps then you can make the switch. If you already trust the power of the cloud you can leverage this tool for cloud-bursting opportunities that happen during your busy seasons. The product is licensed per VM so you pay for what you use.

Boomerang has a forum that will enable you to post questions if you run into any issues. Like I mentioned earlier, it’s a pretty straightforward deployment.

They have also made a pretty good video that does a good job in giving an overview of capabilities of their product:

 

 

 

 

 

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