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Cloud partners use a plethora of tools to help customers migrate to the cloud, but they find their automation efforts can bump into limitations.
Cloud specialists employ a mix of home-grown tools, commercial products and freeware to make the job easier. Tools are up to the task of automating easier migration chores, such as moving files to the cloud. But technology that's capable of supporting a more sophisticated migration -- moving an entire server to the cloud, for example -- tends to be in shorter supply.
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As a result, cloud migrations often rely on a great deal of manual intervention. This reality lengthens the time it takes to conduct a migration and increases its cost.
"To my knowledge, tools in this area are nascent, [and they] require a great deal of professional labor augmentation," said Kevin Jackson, CEO of GovCloud Network LLC, a Manassas, Va., consulting firm that focuses on cloud business strategy, education and publishing.
"The challenge for this space ... over the last three or four years has been a lack of a critical mass of automation," added Gregory Ness, vice president of worldwide marketing at CloudVelox Inc., a Santa Clara, Calif.-based company that provides an automated cloud migration and disaster recovery platform.
Tools for moving files
Channel companies are finding tool options to help them move and synchronize files in a cloud migration.
ComputerSupport.com, a managed services and cloud provider based in Boston, uses home-grown tools to help with migrations, but also taps utilities such as Microsoft's Robocopy. Microsoft debuted Robocopy as part of its Windows Server 2003 Resource Kit, well before the cloud emerged. According to Microsoft, the tool can copy all NTFS file attributes and "mirror the contents of an entire folder hierarchy across local volumes or over a network."
"The utility has been around for a long time," noted Kirill Bensonoff, CEO of ComputerSupport.com.
Bensonoff said the company uses Robocopy when moving files from on-premises to Amazon Web Services or other infrastructure as a service providers.
Karl Lamberth, senior vice president of Global Delivery Services at Cloud Sherpas US Inc., said his company uses Cloud Technology Solutions' CloudMigrator tool for migrating end user data from a local server to Google Drive.
"This approach speeds time to deployment and significantly reduces implementation costs," Lamberth said.
Cloud Technology Solutions describes CloudMigrator as a Google Apps migration tool, but notes that the product can also support file server migration to Google Drive. According to the company, CloudMigrator can migrate users' files and folder hierarchies directly into Google Drive.
Lamberth said existing migration solutions address basic needs in large-scale file server migrations. That said, there's room for improvement. Lamberth noted that companies with complex file structures and permissions require more sophisticated solutions.
"On-premise and cloud-based systems such as Google Drive store data and manage access in fundamentally different ways," he explained. "Bridging that difference to ensure smooth transition will be critical to bringing the next wave of customers to a cloud-based storage world."
App server migration
Tool limitations also surface when it comes to migrating servers to the cloud. Tools offer adequate assistance in some migration scenarios but less in others.
Bensonoff said ComputerSupport.com uses Amazon Web Services' tools when migrating a customer to the AWS cloud platform. In this type of project, the company virtualizes a customer's physical servers and uses the AWS tools to copy the virtual images to AWS, he noted.
"That has worked pretty well," he said.
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