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AWS Application Discovery Service: The Basics and How to Get Started

Read Time: 6 minutes

What Is AWS Application Discovery Service? 

AWS Application Discovery Service (ADS) is a tool designed to help enterprises plan migration projects. It does this by collecting information about their on-premises data centers, using either an agentless scanning method or an agent you can deploy on on-premises servers and VMs. The service is mainly focused on discovering VMware virtual machines and databases.

Migrating applications and data to the cloud can be a complex process. It requires careful planning and a deep understanding of the interdependencies between applications and servers. Without this knowledge, the migration process can lead to performance issues, increased costs, and other potential setbacks.

Learn more in our detailed guide to migrate vmware to aws

AWS Application Discovery Service can help by identifying these dependencies by collecting information about your servers, applications, and data, providing a detailed view of your IT environment. This information is crucial for planning a successful migration to the cloud.

This is part of a series of articles about application migration

Benefits of Application Discovery Service 

Here are some of the key benefits of Amazon ADS:

  • Visibility over application portfolios: The service collects detailed configuration and usage data from servers, databases, and applications across your IT environment. This includes details like server hostnames, IP addresses, operating system details, and more.
  • Migration planning: Amazon ADS provides detailed information about applications and their dependencies, and also offers data connectors to popular migration planning tools such as AWS Migration Hub, TSO Logic, RISC Networks, and others. You can export the collected data directly to these tools to improve migration planning.
  • Centralized management and tracking: All your discovery data can be accessed and managed from a single location, the AWS Management Console. This makes it easier to track the progress of your discovery efforts. You can monitor the status of your data collection, view summary reports, and drill down to detailed data on specific applications.
  • Integration with AWS services: Amazon ADS seamlessly integrates with other AWS services. For example, you can export discovered data to Amazon Athena and Amazon QuickSight for further analysis and visualization.

Limitations of AWS Application Discovery Service 

Complexity in Setup and Use

Setting up and utilizing AWS Application Discovery Service can present certain complexities, particularly for organizations with extensive or particularly unique IT environments. The initial configuration may require a detailed understanding of both the current IT infrastructure and the specific capabilities of AWS ADS. 

In some cases, choosing between agentless and agent-based discovery methods can complicate the setup further, as each has its own prerequisites and limitations. Additionally, integrating the discovery data with other AWS services or third-party tools for migration planning may require additional expertise in API management and data handling.

Performance Impact

The use of AWS Application Discovery Service, especially when deploying the agent-based method, can lead to a performance overhead on the servers being analyzed. The agents continuously collect and transmit data, which can consume significant CPU, memory, and network bandwidth, potentially affecting the performance of the server and the applications running on it. Organizations must carefully plan the deployment of these agents, possibly scheduling operations during off-peak hours to minimize impact on business operations.

Limited to AWS

One notable limitation of AWS Application Discovery Service is its inherent design to facilitate migrations primarily to AWS. This focus can be a constraint for organizations seeking flexibility in choosing their cloud service providers. Businesses might find themselves needing additional tools or processes to adapt the insights from AWS ADS for use with other clouds, which could complicate multi-cloud strategies and potentially increase overall migration costs.

How Does the AWS Application Discovery Service Work? 

Agentless Discovery

Agentless discovery in AWS Application Discovery Service is achieved through deploying the Agentless Collector, specifically designed for VMware vCenter environments. This makes it possible to identify virtual machines (VMs) and hosts associated with your vCenter without installing individual agents on each VM. 

Once deployed, the Agentless Collector gathers essential static configuration data including server hostnames, IP addresses, MAC addresses, and disk resource allocations. It can do the same for database engines, capturing versions and schema details. Moreover, it provides a snapshot of the utilization data for VMs and databases, offering insights into average and peak metrics for CPU, RAM, and Disk I/O.

Agent-Based Discovery

For a more granular view of your on-premises servers, you can use agent-based discovery. This method involves deploying the AWS Application Discovery Agent directly onto your VMs and physical servers. 

Compatible with both Windows and Linux operating systems, the agent collects more data, including static configuration information, detailed time-series system performance data, and insights into inbound and outbound network connections and running processes.

Tutorial: Getting Started with AWS ADS Agentless Collector for VMware Environments 

This tutorial will show you how to use the ADS Agentless Collector to gain visibility over an on-premises VMware environment and prepare it for cloud migration.

Create an IAM User for the Agentless Collector

The first step in utilizing the AWS Application Discovery Service is to create an Identity and Access Management (IAM) user for the agentless collector. An IAM user is an entity that you create in AWS to represent the person or application that uses it to interact with AWS.

To create an IAM user, navigate to the Migration Hub in the AWS Management console and select a Region. Then, create an IAM user and set the DMSCollectorPolicy. 

For the Agentless Collector, you need to attach the DiscoveryConnector policy to the user. Review the user details and then create the user. Remember to download the Access key ID and Secret access key, as you will need these later.

Download the Agentless Collector

With the IAM user in place, the next step is to download the agentless collector. The Agentless Collector is a virtual appliance that you can deploy on your VMware environment. It collects configuration, usage, and behavior data from your server and sends it to the AWS Application Discovery Service.

To download the agentless collector, navigate to vCenter. You need to be a VMware administrator to do this. Choose the target directory for the collector download. Follow the instructions provided to download the connector to your local machine. The connector is an OVA file that you can deploy on your VMware environment.

You can download the OVA file here

Deploy the Agentless Collector

To deploy the collector, you will need administrator access to vCenter.

In the vCenter UI, select File from the menu, then Deploy OVF Template. Browse to the location where you saved the OVA file and select it. Follow the prompts to deploy the agentless collector.

Access the Agentless Collector Console

The Application Discovery Service Agentless Collector console allows you to configure the collector and start the data collection process.

To access this console, enter the collector’s IP address in your web browser’s address bar. When first accessing the collector, you’ll be given the option to Get Started. After that, you’ll have to select Log in

Configure Agentless Collector

Configuring the collector involves setting up the network settings and testing the connectivity to the AWS Application Discovery Service.

In the Agentless Collector console, navigate to Configure Agentless Collector. Provide the Collector name in the relevant field (note that the name can include spaces but not special characters). You will be asked to provide the Access key ID and Secret access key for the IAM user that you created earlier. This allows the agentless collector to communicate with the AWS Application Discovery Service. 

You will also need to set up an Agentless collector password with 8-64 characters. Re-enter the password to complete the verification process. 

Next, you’ll need to read and accept the license agreement under Other Settings. You can also specify settings such as automatic updates. When finished, select Save configurations.

Set Up the Agentless Collector Data Collection Modules

The data collection modules determine the type of data that the agentless collector collects from your server.

In the Agentless Collector console, go to Data collection and select the relevant VMware machines. Currently, only VMware machines from analytics and database servers are supported.

The collector collects data at regular intervals and sends it to the AWS Application Discovery Service. You can view the status of the data collection process in the console.

View the Collected Data

After the data collection process is complete, you can view the collected data in the AWS Management Console. This data provides insights into your server’s configuration, usage, and behavior, which can help you plan your migration to AWS.

In the AWS Management Console, navigate to the Migration Hub and select Servers under the Discover tab. You can view details about the data discovered by the vCenter collector by selecting the relevant server hostname under Server info. This will display more details about the server, including the IP address and performance metrics. 

You can also view data from the analytics and database collection module via the AWS Database Migration Service console. Under the Discover tab, select Inventory and then Analyze inventories. You can then view the results of the data analysis under the Schemas tab. 

Faddom: Ultimate AWS Application Discovery Alternative

Faddom is a lightweight alternative to AWS Application Discovery. It can map assets AWS Application Discovery does not, including Microsoft Hyper-v, KVM, Nutanix, Azure, Google Cloud, Oracle Cloud, Kubernetes, Radware, Kemp, A10, F5, and Citrix.

It is agentless, does not require credentials, and is cost-effective. It can map your entire environment in real-time, updating 24/7. Only one person can map an entire organization in under an hour.

Learn more about Faddom for application mapping or start a free trial to the right

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