A number of Businesses today are looking at moving their IT operations and business services on the Cloud. The task of migrating your applications may be a nightmare especially if your app migration volumes are high,complex and when your IT environment is heterogeneous. A number of products/tools and services provided by Vendors in the market are emerging to address the cloud migration requirements.
In this blog, I have tried to assimilate and provide information two such Vendor’s product Viz. AppZero and CloudSwitch. Both these companies seem to be early movers in this space offering niche products/services. Why AppZero and CloudSwitch as the case? There is no specific reason. They seem to be in the limelight and I have been tracking them for quite sometime now. Finally, I have shared some of my thoughts on what you should do when you consider moving your IT operations/Apps to the Cloud.
AppZero and CloudSwitch are enabling organizations to deploy their enterprise applications to the cloud through their patent pending software products and services. Both the company’s software help automate and accelerate the deployment of enterprise applications without re-architechting and IT change management. There seems to be a lot of automation & controls built in their product and services that helps slash the efforts time to move your enterprise Apps to the Cloud.
In terms of the what they provide ,This is a reflection of my observations while trying to generally compare their products and or services from the online resources available, primarily their website information including white papers and videos.
- AppZero™ is software to create, control, and maintain virtual application appliances (VAA).There are three products to do this Viz., AppZero Creator ,AppZero Director and AppZero Admin.
- Essentially, If you have an enterprise application, You can virtualize its deployment on the AppZero’s VAA . Here is a video on AppZero VAA Creation
- Once your App specific VAA is created, looks like you can move your specific VAA’s to other IT Infrastructure environments mentioned by AppZero
- AppZero in the Cloud is mentioned as “Enterprises moving to the cloud can easily experiment with moving applications to the cloud – and back again….” . There is however no specification on the various cloud vendors environments compliance and support.While I read their page, with bits and pieces of information spread in different places, I could only make assumptions. For instance,AppZero in the Cloud page starts with mentioning only about Amazon EC2. However, a Video link on the same page titled “App Mobility” shows a demo of moving an App between Amazon and GoGrid
- There is a partner page that also mentions about OpSource,Amazon EC2 and GoGrid as its partners. I was unable to correlate how exactly their products and services apply to GoGrid or OpSource. Then, I found a presentation on moving Windows server Apps to GoGrid under the ‘Download AppZero’ page.
- There is a presentation (slide # 19,How do I create a VAA) that indicates or rather suggests that you create a VAA for your Apps and then move it to other target VAAs located in another datacenter or a Cloud. The questions that popped in my mind then was (a) What are the efforts ,methodology or process and How quickly one could create target VAAs say on the Amazon or GoGrid clouds for any specific VAA created for an App.?? Are target VAA’s created on the Fly? How about the OS/Platform/DB layers (I mean AMIs or templates) supported at Amazon or GoGrid or some other cloud ? How about the target VAA management ?
- I couldn’t find specific information about the security provided by AppZero VAA product(s) either while moving your enterprise Apps and data to the cloud or how they manage the runtime security while you deploy your apps on target VAAs on specific Cloud environments.
- CloudSwitch Enterprise is the main product that describes “enterprise IT organizations to run Windows and Linux applications in the cloud simply and securely, without re-architecting the application or changing management tools and policies”
- Basically, Applications running on your VMware environment (Hypervisor ESx V 3.5 or higher) may be moved to the cloud seamlessly. (i-e auto deployed and provisioned)
- Systems requirements and a Datasheets are available in their website
- One of the key differentiators and Value proposition in the CloudSwitch product and/or services is that the sensitive enterprise data can be retained in your data center while the application tiers can be moved to the cloud and CloudSwitch will manage the data transport securely and seamlessly.
- CloudSwitch datasheet mentions deployment on Amazon EC2 and Terramark Clouds.
- You have to note that deploying and provisioning your Enterprise App to the Cloud means ,deploying it on a CloudSwitch server instance or an appliance that runs on the above clouds.
- It seems CloudSwitch software also provides some sort of cloud isolation mechanism that offers enhanced protection and access control to your cloud deployments.
- One of my other observations about CloudSwitch was that the entire product /service seems to be positioned highly focused from a Security perspective than from a migration perspective and you can get a feel of it when you read the white papers and the website info.
Both AppZero and CloudSwitch seems to offer a good solution for moving the software applications to the Cloud and across specific Virtualised environments. Both of them are positioned differently although the common functionality is all about moving your software apps. to other datacenters or clouds.
With AppZero , You have to package your App and virualise it on its VAA product layer before it migrates your apps to other target VAAs running on different OS or Cloud environments. AppZero seems to offer more deployment options with regards to the source and target environments.
If your have a number of Apps running on the VMWare env. and if you want to migrate them securely including the option of keeping your data operations inside your , CloudSwitch seems to be a good product/service to explore. Companies looking for highly secure deployment options n the cloud may find really good features here. Considering the fact Security issues on the Cloud is a major deterrent for companies to embrace and adopt the cloud, this is really worth going deep in to what CloudSwitch seems to offer as a double whammy (Quick migration+high security)!
AppZero’s pricing is listed as Licensing their products at specific prices where as CloudSwitch indicates a Annual Subscription model. So, If you want to explore with CloudSwitch , it is better that your cloud migration requirements satisfy atleast for 20 concurrent virtual machines and for unlimited users /clouds atleast for one year term,where as for small scale ,not so stringent,incremental deployment models at comparatively lower costs,AppZero seems to be a good option to explore!
I felt that the product information on AppZero could have been better organised and presented on their website. It took much time for me to assimilate and correlate information from their website. CloudSwitch’s website information and datasheets were very clear and lucid.
Finally ,Here are some of my thoughts when you consider moving some of your Enterprise Apps on the Cloud :
- Do a careful assessment of the Vendor Lock-in and its impact , especially if you are moving a bulk of your Apps or business critical apps. While a Migration Vendor’s product may not lock you to a specific cloud or datacenter, the fact that all your apps have to run on their Virtual appliance or server runtime layer may lock you in to them . The lock-ins may be less if their product or service allows you to port to your original deployment environment seamlessly.
- The more Vendor lock-in you have, the operational and business risks may be high for you. Look at ways of diversifying or reducing the risks,especially when you consider moving your business critical apps on a *longer duration or permanently to other third-party datacenter or Clouds*
- On the Other-side, Also,assess how your vendor lock in weights against your time to deploy and other business objectives such as cost cutting and revenue objectives. Some times your Vendor lockin risks may be less against the risks of not moving your app(s)/business to the cloud within a specific time or cost.
- Note that the Migration Vendors deploy to specific clouds through their partnerships (e.g. Terramark,GoGrid etc). This means you also have the onus of evaluating the service options, costs ,SLAs etc provided by such cloud vendors unless the migration vendor helps you with providing value added services in helping you to decide your migration strategy.
- If you are a large enterprise with a long term vision of doing business on the cloud,building your own migration tools and services may be more beneficial to you. You are going to be more in control of your managing your business on your datacenter as well as on the cloud.
- Evaluate your App deployment on the Vendor provided environment (i-e Vendor’s virtual servers,Cloud against your production deployment criterion such as Security,Clustering,High Availability,Performance,Reliability,Manageability ,Portability,Service Level requirements /SLAs etc. You may have to consider a number of factors in your assessment,especially if you decide to move your business critical applications.
- Also evaluate your migration risks against factors such as technology and vendor obsolescence,change management etc.
- Evaluate the cost factors (initial investments and ongoing costs) and flexibility w.r.t migration services. For instance , a No-Capex, monthly subscription based migration services may look attractive intially, but if you consider moving dozens or hundreds of applications for a long term , the long term operational costs may bite you.
- Migration services through a third-party vendor mediation has some attractive advantages, if you do have an environment to deploy your Apps for a shorter duration leveraging the elastic nature and pay per use model of a Cloud. They are pretty attractive because, it can help you to slash your time to deploy while at the same time reducing your risks to any long term lockins and other factors.