Migration On the Cloud: More Than Meets the Eye

Arthur Cole

If you thought the cloud was going to relieve you of the drudgery of enterprise data management, think again. Many of the same old problems are due to resurface, just on a much larger scale -- data and application migration, for example.


A few weeks ago, I was ruminating on the potential challenges of getting Enterprise Applications and the Cloud: Can They Work Together?. The thinking among some experts is that application migration -- not just from the enterprise to the cloud, but between different clouds as well -- will be a major challenge because of all the proprietary architectures popping up in the cloud.

It turns out the problem has not gone unnoticed among those looking to develop cloud platforms. Data migration is emerging as one of the key themes this year.

We start with Sun Microsystems, which recently unveiled a new division focused on cobbling together a coherent cloud platform based on items like the Sun Fire blades and StorageTek arrays, software packages like OpenSolaris and GlassFish and topped off with Java networking. Since the company is going after the installed enterprise base, it has to focus a great deal on the smooth migration from established data centers.

Lew Tucker, CTO of the new division, readily admits that porting over legacy applications to the cloud will be a complicated task, since past application development rarely focused on open source, SaaS-style infrastructures. Workarounds and patches help to some extent, but the longer-term focus will have to be on virtualizing entire data centers on the cloud so applications can be simply switched over. No word yet as to exactly how Sun hopes to pull this off.

IBM also will be an interesting company to watch as migration issues become more prominent. The company recently tied up with Juniper Networks to show off a joint solution that provides seamless migration of workloads, but apparently no applications yet, between private and public clouds. The approach uses the protocol-agnostic Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) system to provide a drag-and-drop interface to assign workloads to various environments, essentially turning the entire cloud infrastructure into a single virtual network.

A number of software companies are also planning to take advantage of cloud migration issues. Procedo recently released a new version of the Archive Migration Manager (PAMM) that includes a new cloud migration component tied to the LiveOffice and Dell MessageOne services. The software includes modules connected to both source and destination archives to ensure that the central management system completes the migration properly. The package works across most of the top storage and application platforms, such as Symantec Enterprise Vault, EMC EmailXtender and Centera and HP's Integrated Archive Platform.

Migration to and from the cloud shouldn't be any more complicated than migration between any other platform, although that isn't really saying much. The difference, though, is that with so much interest in getting enterprises up and running on their respective cloud platforms, the service providers/vendors want to make it as easy as possible to get you there.

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