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Five Workload-to-Cloud Migration Methods: Part 3

December 10, 2013

Offline media transfer by shipping portable media

This is our third in a series of six posts looking at various methods for moving workloads to the cloud. This one involves physical shipment of portable media.

Consider this method for transferring native format systems, such as VMware source to VMware provider, to your cloud services provider (CSP), or converting systems to your CSP’s format ─ Hyper-V source to VMware provider, for example. Moderate size workloads are best suited to using this method. Network transfer is better for smaller sizes. USBs do not scale to accommodate very large workloads.

The approach is straightforward. Perform the conversion and copy to drive. Some conversion tools may require that systems be offline, which can be disruptive. Conversely, if systems remain online, data changes made during the conversion process will not be captured.

Ship via a reliable carrier. Import the virtual images and test. Take care of DNS, VPN, certifications and other patch items associated with the move. The costs associated with this – USB drives and courier service, primarily – are nominal.  A potential downside is that if testing at the CSP fails, the process must be repeated in its entirety, which represents additional cost.

This works well when you are located close enough to your CSP that driving or shipping via courier is faster than Internet transfer. It’s inadvisable to use this for long distances, particularly trans-oceanic.

The biggest risk is the fact that you are entrusting data to a third-party vendor.  As noted in post #2, always encrypt! There’s always the possibility that media arrives and can’t be used, requiring you to roll back. While not so much a risk as an annoyance, if you don’t have USB 3.0 which is ten times faster than USB 2.0, the transfer could be painfully long.

The maintenance window for this method is quite long. Copying data to and from media, as well as physically transporting media, all take time. From the moment the copy/conversion process begins to the time it’s complete, online production system data is being lost, or service is unavailable so long as the maintenance window remains open. If the process fails, stop, roll back and repeat.

In post #4 next week we’ll tackle Internet transfer of virtual disk images.

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