DH2i Blog Article

VM to Container Migration: Go From Machines to Dreams in Minutes

Josh Achtemeier
May 11, 2023

Like many innovations in the world of information technology, virtualization came in like a wave. It disrupted the bare-metal status quo in a huge way—becoming massively popular among SQL Server pros for the purpose of reducing licensing costs, reducing physical machine counts, and delivering numerous other benefits.

However, IT innovation never stops, and new technology waves have continued cascading through the industry. The latest wave is containerization, and it is not slowing down anytime soon. Previously just DevOps tools, containers are now production-ready and enhancing SQL Server environments around the globe. So, why are so many organizations headed in this direction and considering a VM to container migration?

Containers Improve Upon Virtual Machine Benefits in 5 Key Ways

  1. Faster Deployment and Scaling – Containers require far less maintenance and overhead than virtual machines, so deploying is both faster and more efficient.
  2. Maximum Portability – Containers unlock a level of consistency across any mix of disparate infrastructure, allowing users to easily move existing applications between different on-premises and cloud environments.
  3. Peak Resource Utilization and Performance – Containers are inherently lighter weight than a virtual machine and can share the same host operating system which unlocks maximum utilization. In addition, their inherent isolation from one another means faster startup times and improved overall performance.
  4. Cost Savings on Infrastructure and Management – The consistency across infrastructure that containers enable means a unified management experience in which the same tools and team can be utilized across the environment. The consolidation benefits afforded by containers versus VMs to reduce server counts unlock additional savings on infrastructure.
  5. Seamless Integration with DevOps – Containers allow developers to package applications together with their dependencies—culminating in peak deployment efficiency and faster time to market.

DH2i’s Unparalleled Cluster Flexibility Makes Container Modernization Easy

DH2i has set out to make the process of modernizing SQL Server environments from virtual machines to containers easier than ever before. DxEnterprise (DxE) Smart High Availability Clustering software makes this possible by unlocking the unique ability to create an HA cluster containing any mix of physical servers, virtual machines, and containers. Additionally, these clusters are not limited by platform, and can contain any combination of Windows and/or Linux nodes. 

This DxEnterprise capability facilitates migrating virtual machines to containers with 3 easy steps:

  1. Create your new Kubernetes cluster (you can do this easily using a Helm chart)
  2. Connect your starting node and Kubernetes cluster within a unified  availability group
  3. Use SQL Server database mirroring to migrate databases from existing infrastructure to new containerized deployment(s).

Want to see what it actually looks like to migrate virtual machines to containers? Check out this demo to watch a standalone Windows VM instance be migrated to a highly available Kubernetes container deployment in minutes. 

Goodbye Virtual Machines: Containers Are the New Norm

The opinion of the IT industry is growing closer and closer to unanimous. Migrating existing workloads from virtual machines to containers provides significant benefits, especially for organizations that prioritize agility, scalability, and cost efficiency. 

There were certainly justifiable hesitations with container technology surrounding security initially. However, industry technology has caught up and seen a boom in continuous data protection vendors. Innovative technology like software-defined perimeter (SDP) security has made great strides in settling the zero trust network access vs VPN debate, and it has helped pave the way for safer container deployment. The application-level access controls enabled by SDP allow IT pros to safely connect and protect even the most complex hybrid and multi-cloud environments, and provide consistent security across native instance and containerized deployments.

While security was once an obstacle in a virtual machine migration plan, containers are now safer to deploy thanks to the rise of new security standards and services around a container’s components.

Apart from just providing container-ready security, the best SDP solutions bring some other big benefits to the table as well:

  • Up to a 40% increase in network throughput
  • Total network control with no “middleman” intrusions in the data path
  • Discreet invisibility with no open ports and full DTLS encryption

The other hurdle that containers have overcome to start rewriting the IT deployment paradigm and encouraging migration away from  VMs is high availability (HA). In the past, containerized deployments had to rely exclusively on pod-level HA—an undeniably inadequate level of downtime protection to support containers in production. New technology like our own DxEnterprise v22 has unlocked fully automatic database-level failover for AGs in Kubernetes for the first time, making a virtually zero downtime, containerized SQL Server environment totally feasible.

A Migration Plan Built for Security & Efficiency

The path to modernization is more straightforward and achievable than ever before thanks to containerization and supporting technologies like SDP and DxEnterprise. If your organization is looking for effective ways to maintain competitive advantage and modernize efficiently, there has never been a more efficient solution available to support your VM migration plan. Secure migration from virtual machines to containers is literally achievable in minutes.

Have some specific questions you want to ask about DH2i, or just want to learn more? Get signed up for a personalized demo today.

If you’re interested in learning more about DH2i’s approach to smart high availability technology, get signed up for a one-on-one demo today.

The author
Josh Achtemeier

Native. Containerized. Anywhere in Between.

DH2i gets you closer to zero downtime.