Application and data migration remains one of the most significant barriers to cloud adoption in the enterprise these days. And while today’s solutions are not perfect, there is at least a strong commitment on the part of vendors and cloud providers to address the issue.
The biggest move came this week with the announcement from IBM and VMware that they would work together to move legacy data center functions onto the IBM cloud. The pact is significant for two reasons. First, it combines the technical knowhow of two leading IT vendors – IBM on the hardware and services side and VMware on the virtual layer – to craft what will likely be a very robust hybrid cloud infrastructure (Disclosure: I provide content services to IBM).
Secondly, it enables organizations to move legacy apps to the cloud without having to rewrite code. As The Wall Street Journal’s Angus Loten points out, this is crucial for organizations that are seeking the flexibility and scalability of the cloud but still need to leverage existing infrastructure for ongoing business processes.
IBM is also working with numerous partners to craft all-new cloud applications and services for workloads targeting emerging IT initiatives like mobility and Big Data. Forbes’ Alex Konrad reports that the company has teamed up with GitHub to incorporate Apple iOS and Java development into the IBM Cloud, using the WebSphere middleware platform to unite various apps under a common API while still allowing developers to work within the language of their choice. At the same time, IBM has released OpenWhisk, an open source event management tool that takes dead aim on the AWS Lambda platform and its ability to coordinate the myriad data interactions that apps must handle in modern business environments.
Meanwhile, numerous third-party migration products are starting to crop up throughout the cloud, all aiming to build greater functionality between the enterprise and provider. A company called WANdisco, for instance, recently released the Active Migrator for Google Cloud Dataproc that strives for seamless migration of even petabyte-scale workloads. The system is designed for applications that require on-demand burst processing on the cloud, using what the company calls an active-transactional replication system to continuously transfer data across on-premises file systems to cloud-based Hadoop clusters or other Dataproc environments. This allows both cloud and data center infrastructures to work in parallel during the migration to enable seamless operation of affected apps and workloads.
Regardless of all the activity surrounding cloud migration, says Data Center Knowledge’s Bill Kleyman, the simple fact is that some applications are not suited to the cloud. Some apps, in fact, cannot even be virtualized, while others have built up data dependencies or are bound by security and compliance requirements that all but force them to remain on local infrastructure. This is why it is important for enterprise executives to conduct a solid review of their applications before launching a new cloud. Any way you do it, however, it seems clear that data environments of the future will have to be built to support broad integration and migration from the ground up – virtually the opposite of the piecemeal deployment strategies that have led to the silo-based infrastructure in data centers over the years.
The ultimate goal, of course, is a full federated, globally distributed data ecosystem in which apps, services, data and resources can be created, shared, altered and deconstructed at a moment’s notice, all in support of lightning-fast performance and the ephemeral nature of emerging business processes. That’s a tall order, but it is not completely outside the realm of possibility.
But it most certainly will not come about without a smooth flow of data between local and cloud-based infrastructure.
Arthur Cole writes about infrastructure for IT Business Edge. Cole has been covering the high-tech media and computing industries for more than 20 years, having served as editor of TV Technology, Video Technology News, Internet News and Multimedia Weekly. His contributions have appeared in Communications Today and Enterprise Networking Planet and as web content for numerous high-tech clients like TwinStrata and Carpathia. Follow Art on Twitter @acole602.