What to look for in cloud data migration tools

This vendor-written tech primer has been edited by Network World to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favor the submitter's approach.

Enterprise data centers, from small to large, are moving or planning to move significant amounts of their applications and data to the cloud, but data migration is a big concern and implementation on existing infrastructures can be time-consuming, complex, and costly.

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Data migration becomes even more complex and costly in heterogeneous environments when migrating between different formats, technologies or vendors. Thankfully new technologies and solutions not only ease the pain of data and application migrations, but actually accelerate the migration process by utilizing a single solution that maximizes product features while minimizing complexity.

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BACKGROUND: Do you know where your cloud data is?

Dedicated data migration solutions ease the process significantly by incorporating multi-protocol connectivity and making it possible for data and applications to be moved easily from iSCSI, Fibre Channel, or FCoE environments to other iSCSI, Fibre Channel or FCoE environments.

Data migration challenges

The key challenge involved in data migration to cloud environments is matching the incoming data to the particular storage protocol and infrastructure being used. The enterprise may have data stored on an iSCSI SAN, for example, but the cloud environment may be Fibre Channel. The cloud infrastructure and protocol translations are a requirement for the migration to be successful.

Another challenge is to perform the data migration with reasonable performance. Stretching out a migration over days or even weeks becomes the data center dilemma. The migration solution has to increase the efficiency to allow for business change and allowing for agility to decrease the likelihood of errors in the process and confining precious IT administrative resources. The IT administrator has to insure flexibility and meet the requirement to migrate data while applications continue to remain "online," as well as minimize the number of times an application needs to be stopped and restarted.

The complexity of enterprise data centers means administrators must rely on a single solution to perform local or remote data migration across multiple network fabrics (SAN, WAN, LAN). The key is remote data migrations, which provide the capability of the cloud as part of infrastructure as a service (IaaS). IaaS provides, as part of a simplified method, the capability to support remote applications deployment, remote site moves, and remote infrastructure changes. It is important in support of cloud infrastructure; the data migration solution must include flexibility, availability and performance.

A data migration solution (DMS) is an appliance that provides a simple and effective way to provide multi-protocol translation and allow migration of all of the Fibre Channel-based (2Gb, 4Gb, or 8Gb) or iSCSI-based (1Gb or 10Gb) data that supports applications to be run in the cloud. Without a DMS, users must implement alternatives to bridge between the data center and the cloud, but they are still without a way to translate between Fibre Channel and iSCSI or vice versa. It is possible to implement translation on a server, but the process requires installing multiple components and is fraught with the potential for errors.

In the IaaS implementation, the application migration requirement will include database services or Exchange Server as part of the data center virtual machine, server and storage framework. The infrastructure has to be robust enough to migrate block storage remotely and enable deployment in the cloud, ensuring that scalability can be dynamically set and load balancing achieved.

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