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Case Study
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How a Rapid Cloud Migration Saved One Company’s Data

Hardware support was ending sooner than the business expected. CDW migrated its environment in just three months.

An insurance company found itself in a major bind last year when its IT department discovered that its servers and storage hardware would reach their end of life in about eight months — much sooner than anticipated.

The company thought that it had a year or longer with its existing hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) equipment. A hardware refresh wasn’t even in the budget. So, when IT staffers read the fine print and realized the company’s vendor would soon end support for its 5-year-old hardware, they scrambled to find a new solution.

The problem: IT leaders lacked the tech know-how to make the full cloud migration they had long desired.

So, they turned to CDW to make it happen.

“They had some previous failed endeavors where they tried to do app rationalization and move out to Amazon Web Services,” recalls CDW Account Executive Kevin Flynn. “Those efforts were largely unsuccessful, but when this situation came up, they still wanted to move to the cloud. With our help, they moved their entire infrastructure to the cloud in one fell swoop.”

VMware Cloud on AWS Makes Migrations Easy

The tight time frame made the project challenging. However, the insurance company had no choice but to find a way to modernize its infrastructure quickly; its core business applications and data resided in its old infrastructure. “This was their live production system. This runs their business,” says Chuck Brinkley, solution architect for hybrid infrastructure at CDW.

The insurance company’s IT staffers did their due diligence. They had previously standardized on hardware running VMware by Broadcom virtualization software, but they were open to all suggestions. The CDW sales team, which included CDW Account Manager Karen Salter, walked the company’s IT leaders through their options: stay on-premises with an HCI system running on VMware by Broadcom or Nutanix, or go to the cloud.

The company didn’t have time to rearchitect its applications and move to a fully cloud-native environment. If it wanted to migrate to the cloud, CDW recommended that the company adopt VMware Cloud on AWS, which would allow it to simply move virtual machines (VMs) from its existing data center. That’s the option the company chose.

“They knew a migration of all of their sensitive data and applications would be a huge undertaking. Given the time crunch, they were open to any reasonable option,” Brinkley says. “They had a lot of VMware experience, so the easiest path was a new VMware-based deployment. VMware Cloud was most closely aligned to their needs.”


The reduction in hours spent managing IT infrastructure when organizations move their on-premises workloads to VMware Cloud on AWS

Source: Forrester, “The Total Economic Impact of VMware Cloud on AWS,” October 2022

How Cloud Saves Organizations Money

Because the project was not budgeted for that year, a cloud subscription model allowed the insurance company a more palatable cost structure.

Cloud services are not necessarily cheaper than on-premises infrastructure. In fact, in the short run, fully migrating data center workloads to the cloud often costs more than purchasing new hardware. But over time, the cloud is usually more cost-effective because it eliminates the need to manage, maintain and secure data center equipment or to purchase new hardware at every refresh cycle, says Todd King, technical lead for VMware by Broadcom software-defined data center technologies at CDW.

“VMware Cloud on AWS is basically a managed service offering,” King says. “Customers don’t have to do maintenance, firmware upgrades or drive replacements. They also don’t have to manage the VMware environment. They just use it.”

“With our help, they moved their entire infrastructure to the cloud in one fell swoop.”

— Kevin Flynn, Account Executive, CDW

How CDW Cut the Average Cloud Migration Time in Half

When the insurance company decided in late spring to adopt the cloud, CDW had about three months to complete the project. A CDW team of experts immediately went to work to design, architect and perform the migration.

A cloud migration typically takes a minimum of six months and can take up to several years depending on the number of applications and the complexity of the project, such as having to refactor apps to migrate to a cloud-native, container-based environment, King says.

In fact, it typically takes six months just to perform application planning to properly migrate apps. That process includes determining how apps communicate and learning the performance requirements of users, he says.

Nevertheless, the CDW team was confident it would meet the three-month deadline because of its vast data center and cloud experience and because of the solution the insurance company chose, says Dee Baker, head of cloud presales solutions in CDW’s Digital Velocity Solutions group.

“All of us have worked through every iteration of the data center over the past 15 to 20 years. We’ve experienced every situation. We don’t panic,” she says. “We know we will figure it out and get it done.”

VMware Cloud on AWS was the perfect solution because it enabled CDW to simply move VMs from one environment to another, Baker says.

“The majority of this project was a lift-and-shift migration,” Baker says, adding that CDW spent 40 to 60 hours of engineering time to architect the solution.

To save time, Baker included members of CDW’s delivery team in design and planning sessions so they could hit the ground running with the implementation when the project was handed off.

“That way, they understood what needed to be done,” she says. “There was no need to debrief them.”

Research: VMware Cloud on AWS Delivers Big Benefits

More organizations are moving applications to cloud platforms for a simple reason: Cloud saves businesses money, drives productivity and increases revenue. IDC found that within three years after migrating to VMware Cloud on AWS (the platform also chosen by this insurance company), businesses overall saw:


lower annual infrastructure costs


higher productivity for developers


reduction in unplanned downtime


increase in annual revenue per 100 virtual machines

Cloud Migration Goes Smoothly

CDW’s delivery team worked with the insurance company’s IT department to migrate the apps over to the new environment. The insurance company’s existing HCI solution was a powerful, 19-node system, housing hundreds of VMs and a total of 412 terabytes of storage. Ten nodes were in production. The remaining nine were for disaster recovery, Brinkley says.

CDW deployed VMware by Broadcom’s Hybrid Cloud Extension migration tool to seamlessly move the on-premises VMs to the cloud through an AWS Direct Connect network link. It also used Storage vMotion to move the data, King says. To run its business, the insurance company uses a mix of custom and off-the-shelf applications, along with Citrix virtual desktop infrastructure software. CDW first moved less important apps as a test. Once the environment proved stable, it moved mission-critical apps. “That way, we provided the business the capabilities it needed as quickly as possible,” King says.

While the time constraints prevented CDW staffers from performing extensive application planning, they did do high-level planning and made sure related apps and data were migrated together. Apps running on multiple VMs were also grouped and moved together in migration waves, he says.  

“Even though this is a ‘like for like’ migration, you don’t want part A of one app and part B of the same app running in opposite environments, so we grabbed the VMs that are in the same app, staged them together and moved them over to the other side at the same time to avoid application performance issues,” King says.

During the move, CDW also optimized the VMs and made sure they were not using more CPU power, memory or storage than was necessary, Baker says.

“All of us have worked through every iteration of the data center over the past 15 to 20 years. We’ve experienced every situation. We don’t panic. We know we will figure it out and get it done.”

— Dee Baker, Head of Cloud Presales Solutions, Digital Velocity Solutions Group, CDW

“When you move VMs, there can be bloat,” she continues. “The price in the cloud can triple or quadruple if they’re not optimized as you go. So, we had to be careful that the customer was not getting a larger bill than expected. We spent time making sure we streamlined and optimized the VMs to operate in the cloud.”

Once CDW verified that a group of apps worked properly together, it began the next migration wave, King says.

To protect the new cloud environment, CDW’s cloud networking experts assisted the insurance company’s IT team with security, including security policies on virtual Palo Alto Networks firewalls. CDW’s Citrix experts helped migrate the company’s Citrix virtual desktop infrastructure environment.

They also used a virtual link, called a Virtual Private Cloud, to connect the company’s new VMware Cloud on AWS environment with the company’s small, existing Amazon Web Services (AWS) footprint.

After about three months, CDW successfully met the deadline. When the support contracts for the insurance company’s prior environment ended late last summer, its apps and data were safely ensconced in VMware Cloud on AWS.

“Obviously, getting this all done in a few months was a tall task, so for us to make the deadline was pretty amazing,” King says.

Turning into a Nimble, Cloud-Based Company

The insurance company is ecstatic about the migration to VMware Cloud on AWS. Applications are running smoothly with no downtime. VMware Cloud on AWS has served as a foundation for the company to begin building cloud-native apps in AWS.

The project has also inspired the company to adopt other cloud services, including Cisco Webex Call Center and a ForgeRock identity and access management solution, Flynn says. In fact, the insurance company is so pleased with CDW’s work that it turned to CDW to implement the new call center and identity management projects.

“They are evolving their business from an on-premises company into a nimble, cloud-based organization,” King says.

“Before, we were just a partner. Now, they look at us as one of their most valued strategic partners,” Flynn says. “They trust us with their most prized possessions. We are helping them modernize the rest of their operations.”