Amazon Web Services has announced a service that allows customers to export previously imported EC2 instances back to on-premise environments.
That’s a shift that will send ripples throughout the market and bolsters the argument for a federated cloud that allows for the free flow of data across multiple clouds.
But that is not exactly what AWS is promising in this announcement. AWS is offering the capability to export virtual machines to on-premise environments. Sure, it provides a counter to companies concerned about lock-in with AWS. But it does not address the full issue about allowing for the free flow of application data.
Thomas-Hughes Croucher is a now a consultant who runs and owns Jet Packs for Dinosaurs, which specializes in high performance Web sites. In his previous work at Yahoo, he often spoke about the issue of data portability. He gave this presentation a few years ago, which I think outlines what AWS and other vendors really needs to do if they wishes to discard the notion that it locks-in customer data:
Croucher wrote to me in an email today, referring to the presentation. He said:
..while machine portability is great -the development machines are just a small part of the overall picture. The biggest, hardest thing to move around is data, which this doesn’t really address.
Portability of VMs will make it easier to move between cloud vendors, but it doesn’t solve getting all of your (big) data out of the vender. While Amazon now support import/export via hard disk it’s still a huge problem because the vendors don’t make it affordable to migrate your application data.
The AWS service works in concert with AWS VM Import which gives the ability to import virtual machines in a variety of formats into Amazon EC2. That means customers can migrate from an on-premises virtualization infrastructure to the AWS Cloud.
Customers can initiate and manage the export with the latest version of the EC2 command line (API) tools.
The service allows for the export of Windows Server 2003 (R2) and Windows Server 2008 EC2 instances to VMware ESX-compatible VMDK, Microsoft Hyper-V VHD or Citrix Xen VHD images. AWS says it plans to support additional operating systems, image formats and virtualization platforms in the future.