Cloud

Cloud-to-cloud migration emerging as new class of maintenance software

Not everyone realizes clouds are migratory. There is a new class of software designed to help you transfer your data from one public cloud provider to another with minimal downtime and hassle.

If your company's move to cloud computing does not go as planned, then you can use a new class of software designed to reverse the process or to change from one cloud to another.

Traditional data management companies, various specialists, and professional services giants like Accenture all offer cloud migration. The term originally meant the process of moving to a cloud in the first place, but now it's also defined as a way to change course.

Companies may want to leave or change cloud providers for various reasons, such as geographic diversification in disaster recovery planning; unhappiness with a provider's uptime or performance; or simply to avoid putting all their eggs in one basket. They may also realize the hidden costs of not having the information in a data center under their direct control, such as the ongoing need to provide security rather than rely solely on the cloud company.

SEE: Free ebook—The cloud v. data center decision (TechRepublic)

Veritas, best known for its NetBackup product, has a new application called CloudMobility. Customers input the credentials for their cloud subscriptions, and then the software discovers which workloads to protect and which can be migrated. Customers approve or modify the software's recommendations, after which replication can begin, product manager Lisa Erickson explained.

Virtual machines in the sending cloud are stopped, but data is never deleted. At the new cloud, Veritas' software clones all hardware links, refreshes network connections, and does related maintenance, Erickson added.

Commvault has similar functions in its own data management platform. "When you're moving between clouds or even migrating to a cloud, you have to take into account the underlying technology of the hypervisor itself," which can differ between cloud leaders such as Amazon, Google, IBM, Microsoft, and Oracle, marketing manager Matthew Tyrer noted. "I'm no longer restricted to having to move same-for-same," he said.

Image: iStock/phototechno

Suppose there were two clouds...

Then there are specialists and startups. "A lot of applications are born in the cloud. We believe the existing data management techniques don't work in the cloud," explained Prasenjit Sarkar, CTO and co-founder of Datos IO, which has software called RecoverX. The company's second-generation cloud migration product will be available this summer, Sarkar said, with new features to show users a global catalog of their cloud subscriptions and which data resides where. Datos also recently announced investments into its company by Cisco Systems and NetApp, lending credibility to the idea that cloud migration is about to become a booming field as customers realize the jump requires a lot more diligence than often initially understood.

The IT leaders behind Investor's Business Daily agree with that sentiment. "We had a large push. Our CIO got very excited about cloud a couple of years ago to move our non-production data," said Scott Farwell, lead system engineer at William O'Neil and Co., which publishes financial and healthcare news. The company chose Azure because it seemed like a natural fit as a Microsoft shop, but then Amazon offered better pricing, he explained. Farwell previously was a Veritas NetBackup customer, but opted to use replication software from Zerto and database virtualization tools from Delphix.

But it's not a magic bullet, that's the point

Accenture, which works with the largest of enterprises, said they're just beginning to see companies move cloud-to-cloud. Different clouds being good at different kinds of data is one reason, but another is the cost. All the major cloud providers have egress charges, which can lead customers to virtually self lock-in, managing director Rodrigo Flores noted.

"It's free or cheap to move data into the cloud. It's a lot more expensive to leave," Flores said. For customers who do want to break out, "We do discovery, we do planning, we do the project and the dependency mapping, and then we do the system migration in waves," he explained. "We have our own migration planning tool called Accelerate and our own system called cloud mover," along with using commercial tools as needed.

Flores cited other concerns that his team addresses for customers. Connections between networks, servers, storage, and more must all be cloned. Data protection is an issue too; you can't rely on a cloud provider to watch your data for you. Compliance is another major aspect of any cloud migration. Customers also tend to overestimate and therefore over-purchase when choosing a new cloud environment.

"All of that shows up in the bill," Flores emphasized. "We're seeing people come to us for cost optimization services, which means they're doing analysis after the move." Internally at Accenture, "Seventy percent of our internal workloads are now running on public clouds. We didn't learn this because we're smart; we learned this because we made mistakes over the last few years." Accenture's total monthly cloud bill has more than 100 million lines of records, and it's growing, he said.

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About Evan Koblentz

Evan Koblentz began covering enterprise IT news during the dot-com boom times of the late 1990s. He recently published a book, "Abacus to smartphone: The evolution of mobile and portable computers". He is director of Vintage Computer Federation, a 50...

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