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  • Writer's pictureMatt Tyrer

TFDx with AMD: More than just a bag of chips! (Part2)

AMD at Tech Field Day


A few weeks ago, AMD presented as part of Tech Field Day Extra at VMware Explore 2023. They covered off 2 core topics:


  1. How AI is driving demand for higher CPU performance, how that demand is affecting sustainability initiatives in the datacenter, and how AMD’s latest generation of EPYC processors are delivering on this “more with less” concept.

  2. The latest collaboration between VMware and AMD to drive *gasp* something not even remotely related to compute: VM migration + disaster recovery!

In part 1 of my blog, I covered off many of the key elements from the CPU-centric discussion, you can read that article here:



Here in part 2, we cover off a topic much closer to my own wheelhouse: AMD’s foray into VM migration and disaster recovery (DR) with a new toolkit called VAMT (VMware® Architecture Migration Tool). This was a surprise topic for me as I was not expecting to see from a chip manufacture like AMD, but it’s exciting to see vendors branching out and collaborating on common customer needs. Data resilience, recovery, and migration are all on the critical path for any virtualization environment – regardless of if that is deployed on-premises, in the cloud, or in a hybrid configuration.


As always, I strongly suggest you tune into the full replay of the AMD presentation and DEMO:

 
 

Now, let’s open that bag of chips!


AMD Part 2: Wait!? AMD does VM migration too?



The VMware® Architecture Migration Tool (VAMT) was developed by AMD and VMware together with the goal of reducing the friction typically associated with migration of VMs. This tool was originally intended to automate replatforming VMs from existing x86 architecture to AMD EPYC but supports any migration between x86-to-x86 architecture. Of course, this sort of flexible migration also means that the application of this tool certainly expands into broader areas such as disaster recovery, cyber recovery, and general data resiliency strategy.


Is this the first or only VM migration tool out there? No, but the biggest differentiator for me was that this one was FREE! That’s right! The joint AMD+VMware VAMT tool is Open Source and available today for users and administrators to grab right off GitHub.


So, what does VAMT do? Well, quite simply the VAMT is a cold migration tool that automates:

  • Powering off the VMs

  • Pointing the VMs at a new target cluster(s) and datastore(s)

    • Yes, this supports moving across vCenter instances and moving to/from VMC

  • Moving the VMs over to the new location

    • Interestingly enough, this is NOT based on vMotion and can take advantage of shared storage environments to accelerate migration

  • Powering up the VMs

  • Validating the VMs and applications therein

  • Cleanup!

Of all these phases, the validate part is the most interesting and critical as moving the VM is the easy part, but making sure all the apps inside that VM are running properly can be tricky. This is where the integration elements of VAMT come into play. Given the Open-Source nature of the tool, administrators can customize the validate phase to include their own scripts, procedures, and other tests to ensure that after the VM comes online all the data and applications are functioning properly. This customization further helps to automate and streamline what can otherwise be a rather tedious task.


Lastly, we can’t forget the all important “clean up” part of the migration. Too often snapshots and other “temporary” elements associated with migrations and backups are left behind and forgotten – tying up resources and generally being a nuisance. VAMT takes care of cleaning up after itself once the migration is complete.


To paraphrase AMD’s Jason Collier (Principal Member of the Technical Staff for Architecture and Strategy), “It’s one thing to migrate 10 VMs from one cluster to another, but it’s another thing to migrate 10,000 VMs”. Having an easily customizable and automated tool that you can tailor to your own specific environment and applications helps make those tasks much simpler. AMD built VAMT to be easy to use and based on the presentation and demo it certainly appears to live up to that hype. Anyone running VMware and moving VMs around should certainly check out this freely available tool.


One final note: Given the Open-Source nature of VAMT, AMD is actively looking for contributors and collaborators to help expand and build out the toolset so if that’s in your wheelhouse go check out the GitHub listing and see if there are areas where you can lend your expertise:


 

For more on the AMD CPU discussion, check out the full presentation via Tech Field Day:

 

Written by Matt Tyrer. These posts reflect my own opinion and are not necessarily the opinion of my employer.


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