Sunday, July 08, 2012

Migrating SQL Server and application server deployments across cloud environments

I'm reading: Migrating SQL Server and application server deployments across cloud environmentsTweet this !
Big names in the cloud business are Amazon, RackSpace, Azure (which is still catching up) and others. For those who don't know, Amazon makes more money from it's cloud business than selling books on the web. Another interesting fact is that Amazon had built its vast infrastructure for its e-commerce based business and then started optimally using the same infrastructure by using the same for its cloud business. Google seems to be following the same path, and recently joined the cloud business. Like other cloud players including Azure, google offers cloud services like Google App Engine, Google Compute Engine, Google Cloud Storage, and Google BigQuery. The talk of the town and star of the fleet is IaaS offering of Google, i.e. Google Compute Engine, which is powered using 600,000 cores and can process queries in parallel on such huge computing power using its Exacycle technology. Its still in beta and to the best of my knowledge it supports just Linux based VMs on KVM workloads.

This news is interesting to learn, but how does it affect us ? Systems Portability from one cloud to another cloud is a key factor in considering any cloud environment. At times a part of the system architecture might needs to be ported to any particular cloud environment due to its suitability for the architecture for reasons like geographic location, services offered, pricing, proximity with the application hosting environment etc. Managing SQL Server instances and deployments across multiple clouds is a part of this problem statement.

Like Data Market available on the Azure platform, there also exists a cloud marketplace. Any business can become huge with the right idea, one should just have an eye to figure out that idea. System or software configuration is typically considered a DBA or Server admin or side activity. Can you think of a business just out of it ? Can you think of migrating a part of full solution from one cloud environment to another in a matter of minutes or hours ? Can you think of migrating your application and/or database servers from private cloud to public cloud and vice versa in a matter of minutes or hours ?

If the answer is "not really", RightScale is a company that one should take a look. This company deals in the business of providing ready server templates which are basically configuration and scripts that you can readily submit to the cloud vendors, and your server along with software installation would get setup in minutes. Almost every standard and non-standard server based technologies as well as operating systems are supported. So with these server templates, one does not have to worry about the targeted cloud environment. A sever template having any particular configuration can be applied to Amazon cloud environment in the same way as it can be applied to Google cloud environment. Clients are abstracted from the details of converting the configuration syntax, methods and operational details from one cloud environment to another. The potential of this such companies can be capped from the fact that even companies like Google depend on such third-party cloud translators to help clients smoothly migrate from one cloud environment to another.

Supported cloud environment include: Amazon Web Services, Data Pipe, Google Cloud Platform, IDCF - Yahoo Japan, Korea Telecom, LogicWorks, Microsoft Azure, RackSpace, SoftLayer, Tata and others private cloud environments. Server portability along with software installation, configuration, monitoring, as well as auditing across such a huge variety of cloud environments is a silver bullet for any cloud based architecture design for various aspects. It opens up new doors that can't be even thought of if this cloud portability is not on the table. Still challenges like data migration/replication/synchronization have to be dealt with, which has another solutions too.

For a better Azure adoption, it is very necessary to have such translation mechanism inherently available on the Azure platform itself. There are many players just in this business of selling configurations and images. They are not visible to Architects till you fall in need of them in time of crisis to migrate your server and systems deployments from one cloud to another. 

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