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Automated cloud migration tools help providers win customers

Gina Narcisi

RiverMeadow Software Inc. has updated its SaaS-based cloud migration offering for cloud service providers. RiverMeadow Cloud Migration SaaS 2.0 allows for the movement of entire virtual and cloud-based servers "as is," and any workloads from physical servers into any public, private or hybrid cloud environment.

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Cloud server migration presents IT organizations with technical complexities and interoperability challenges that keep enterprises from moving to the cloud or prevent them from switching cloud providers. With cloud migration tools, providers can ease the fears of cloud-averse enterprises and win customers who might otherwise be locked in with competing providers.

"It's very important for us to have these tools to bring [customers] into our cloud," said Sachin Bansal, cloud ecosystem program lead for Savvis Inc., a managed hosting and colocation provider. "As much as we can drive workloads into our cloud, it does increase revenue for us."

"Companies could have hundreds, if not thousands, of applications, and having to migrate each [application] individually is more time-consuming and complex than moving a whole server or group of servers into the cloud for both the provider and the end user," said Mark Levitt, director of strategy analytics and business cloud strategies for Newton, Mass.-based Strategy Analytics.

Cloud migration tools: Automating the cloud onboarding process

The RiverMeadow Cloud Migration 2.0 software automates the cloud migration process whether the end user is moving a physical or virtual server to a cloud environment. The software supports both Linux and Windows operating systems and allows providers to migrate their users' servers without installing any agents, said Mark Shirman, president and CEO of RiverMeadow. IT departments aren't generally comfortable installing external software on their servers -- especially agent software from a startup provider, Shirman said.

Providers must not only speed up the cloud migration process, but lower the initial costs in order to encourage existing customers to move more workloads into their environment, or attract new customers.

"There is friction when it comes to moving existing workloads to the cloud or even between clouds," he said. "It costs between four and six thousand dollars to migrate a server to a provider's cloud -- and that's typically a manual and slow process of moving each application."

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"With Cloud Migration SaaS 2.0, providers can lower costs to $300 per server moved and can move hundreds of servers a day," Shirman said. "We are speeding up the [provider's] time to recurring revenue by taking a lot of the manual effort out of the cloud migration process."

While providers can benefit from software that can move entire servers more quickly, customers are enjoying uninterrupted business during the migration process. RiverMeadow's server migration tool is an API-based platform that can move live servers, so users don't have to take anything out of production during the migration process.

Savvis has included RiverMeadow's cloud migration tools in its partner ecosystem for the past year. Cloud and server migration tools can be complex to manage, but RiverMeadow's SaaS-based migration tools put the customer in the driver's seat, allowing end users to select their virtual machines and then select which Savvis data center they would like to migrate to, Bansal said. RiverMeadow software can move a customer's whole server or group of servers within a few hours, he added.

Cloud migration needs vary by end user

Customers look to the cloud for its promise of greater scalability and as a means of breaking free from on-premises data center restrictions. Providers must offer equally flexible migration tools, Strategy Analytics' Levitt said.

Moving entire servers at a time is different from moving single applications to the cloud. Many cloud migrations involve moving each application individually from the server, which can be time-consuming. "[Cloud Migration 2.0] is more of a large-scale, high-volume solution for companies that want to move big chunks, if not all of their IT infrastructure, to a cloud or another cloud environment," he said.

While every customer will not have the same workloads or migration needs, all customers want to avoid vendor lock-in. RiverMeadow's migration tool allows customers to move easily within the provider's different cloud environments -- such as private, public and hybrid clouds -- or even to another provider's cloud, Levitt said.

"Providers can sell their cloud services by saying, 'We now have an easier and faster way of moving servers and storage data into our cloud initially, and on an ongoing basis,'" he said.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Gina Narcisi, news writer, and follow @GeeNarcisi on Twitter.


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