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Five Workload-to-Cloud Migration Methods: Part 4

December 12, 2013

Internet transfer of virtual disk images

This, our fourth in a series of six posts describing methods for moving workloads to the cloud, will focus on migrating workloads via a secure FTP (SFTP) server.

Using this method you can transfer workloads in your native format, which saves you from having to rebuild your application environment. Or, you can convert over to your CSP’s format. Either way, after you have uploaded to a SFTP server or similar system, the provider imports the virtual images to its cloud via the Internet.

This method is particularly well suited to migrations of smaller data files and virtual machines over long distances. While there will be some latency resulting from distance and network, it’s negligible.

Internet bandwidth at the source and at the CSP accounts for the majority of cost. There may be minimal software costs, as well.

Conversion tools are typically free and simple to use. FileZilla is a commonly used FTP program for file uploading and downloading to and from an FTP site. VMware vCenter Converter is a free conversion tool that takes a physical server and prepares it as virtual machines for the cloud.

We can’t stress it enough. Always encrypt. SFTP and HTTPS secure communications protocols protect your data over unsecured networks. Test runs help mitigate other risks associated with successfully completing the migration. However if the test fails, you have to go back to square one and start the process over again.  If you encounter problems during a maintenance window, you have to back out and try again at the next window. It is this intersection with corporate change management processes/policies that can severely elongate the approach.

Problems aside, the maintenance window for completing this is still long, as it is with data copies of any size. Again, the size of the Internet connection at the source is usually a bottleneck. Starting services on the new environment require that the full data copy process is complete.

In next week’s post, we’ll consider software agent-based data replication between old and new environments.

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