The tech website The Register has explored a new resource for legacy hosting: Microsoft’s Azure cloud. A RegCast event included notice of new licenses for cloud-based Sparc emulation. Stromasys CEO John Prot teamed with Azure’s Jonathon Frost to outline a lift and shift plan. Microsoft’s Azure is a key element in the alternative to migration. Frost calls the strategy re-hosting.
The advantages of getting legacy apps into the cloud include reliability and containment of costs. Some part of that advantage comes from the ability to tune Azure for flexible emulation hosting. Frost said the architecture in a cloud-hosted emulation has many options.
“As we’re doing these engagements, we’re finding that we can do a hybrid — we can do a re-host or refactor where a component of that can be the lift and shift of the emulation technology,” Frost says. “But we can concurrently take advantage of some of the new cloud technologies to create those and append those to the architecture.”
Pushing hardware to the cloud
RegCast host Tim Phillips said that the goal of using emulation solutions “is to get rid of the legacy hardware whilst retaining and improving hopefully the functionality of the application.”
Azure considers a lift and shift plan to be a re-hosting. “This kind of this pattern buys you time to give you options, so you can find the right recipe. That’s the best of both worlds. You’re using Stromasys emulation plus Azure to do that in the cloud.”
The Azure footprint is a global one, Frost notes. It employs 130,000 miles of fiber in sub-sea cable to link 60 regions of servers. A newer category, high-speed interlinks between regions called Express Routes. “It’s as if these users have a direct connection,” Frost says.
Splitting the architecture across legacy and native resources is a Stromasys Charon strategy, Prot says. “You can move your database to the native environment, then keep the application running on emulation, which you don’t want to touch or recompile,” he says. “That can be a very long-term solution. We have customers running it for 10 or 15 years already.”
Using a direct connection to Azure artifacts, Azure’s cloud helps legacy customers transitioning off datacenters. “It’s as if it was on their same network,” Frost said, “through virtual network peering and other similar technologies. That’s part of the hybrid cloud pattern.”
Virtual machines in Azure stand in for hardware that Prot says is full of uncertainties and risks. “Spare parts are disappearing. The humans who are maintaining it are retiring. I’ve seen machines being moved from datacenter to datacenter without being turned off. Why are they not turning them off? They say it’s because they don’t know how to turn them back on.”
The Azure Virtual Machine is a modern x86 environment in the cloud. “They’re going to be taking care of it for you,” Prot says. “You will never again have this systems problem, because somebody else is managing the hardware.”