One of the big problems with IaaS cloud computing is how to get apps up into the cloud. There are a variety of emerging technologies for solving this problem, but Microsoft is one of the first big vendors to acquire a company that specializes in this and today the company is making the service available in its cloud.
Microsoft announced the preview of its Migration Accelerator tool, which is based off of technology it acquired from InMage this summer. The company specializes in migrating workloads of all types, from physical, non-virtualized applications to those running on VMware, Hyper-V and Amazon Web Services.
Microsoft isn’t alone in offering app migration tools. There are a variety of third parties, from startups to major system integration companies that offer these services, from CSC and BMC to smaller companies like RiverMeadow. But with the acquisition of InMage, Microsoft is offering these services itself now. Many organizations use these tools for disaster recovery and backup. For example, the Migration Accelerator is a good way to make a copy of an application and store it in the cloud, then if the on-premises app goes down users can just spin up the cloud version.
But tools like this, especially ones that are compatible with VMware and AWS services, are also an attempt by Microsoft to scoop up some of the workloads hosted by those competitors. VMware, for example, made the argument at its VMWorld conference that the best place to run apps currently managed by VMware software in the cloud is its vCloudAir because it is the same underlying platform. Microsoft can now accept those workloads.
The Migration Accelerator has a fairly simple process: It installs a lightweight guest on the user’s environment which maps the applications that have been selected to be migrated. A process server is also installed which acts as the communicator up to Azure’s cloud. Sitting in Azure’s cloud is a master target, which accepts the information that the process server has sent. Then, finally there is a configuration server that reassembles the application in Azure.
This process includes many of the necessary components for migrating an app, from discovery of the workloads and their dependencies, to network adaptation and endpoint configuration. The Migration Accelerator tool allows users to test out the workloads before deploying too.
Microsoft is one of the first big cloud providers to embrace this technology, but expect more providers to do the same. These big IaaS companies want to make it as easy as possible to migrate workloads into their clouds. AWS already has tools like Direct Connect, which provides a secure link from AWS’s cloud to third-party data centers, like Equinix. The IaaS market is a battle for workloads and companies are not only looking to make their platforms the go-to ones for building and hosting new applications, but they’re looking to capture as many existing applications that are ready to be transported to the cloud as well.