March 02, 2011, 8:09 PM — Clouds are good for lots of things:
Running your apps in a high-security, high-reliability, high-performance data center without having to pay for a high-security, high-reliability, high-performance data center. Running complex (SAAS) business software that would cost millions to buy and years to implement otherwise. Giving you that bit of headroom to cover the end-of-year book-closing spike in demand for apps you don't want to buy huge servers to house. Giving your dev or project people a place to play on live servers without messing up the data center.
They're not so good for other things.
Like moving any of those apps or workloads from one cloud provider to one you've decided you like better.
Or helping you move a workload from one hypervisor to another, or from the internal data center to a cloud somewhere.
For that you need specialty tools that will take a picture of the VM, including the apps running on it, the network configuration, storage requirements, CPU and memory requirements and – most important – the databases, security configurations, middleware and other services the apps on it require.
Racemi, which pointed high-end system-imaging technology first at disaster recovery, then at business continuity (how big a difference is there, really?), is now using it to migrate virtual machines wherever you want them. Almost.
It's designed to move a VM from VMware to Xen to Hyper-V, and to shift workloads from internal data centers to external clouds, or between one cloud and another, as long as the clouds are relatively similar.
Its DynaCenter software creates one all-encompassing image of a VM or workload, and allows the image to auto-boot in its new location and adapt to the new OS, hypervisor or cloud platform.
It won't work with all clouds. The company promises migrations between Amazon and Rackspace, or internal data centers.
The question is how often companies will want to migrate workloads from one cloud to another.
Not often, considering the relatively small number of companies putting important workloads on public clouds, according to IDC's Gary Chen.
As clouds become more heavily used, and used in more practical ways, migration will become a common requirement, he says.
It will also help put off one common fear among potential cloud customers: lock-in. Once you decide on a cloud provider and move your apps in, it's really hard to get them back out again. Unless you can take a picture that can turn itself back into an app when you get it where you want it to go.