As we discuss in our article Cloud Bursting with Distance VMotion, the ability to migrate virtual workloads to the cloud is becoming more realistic as SAN extension hardware becomes more capable and bandwidth more affordable. These infrastructures are most often designed to move specific workloads to another data center owned by the organization. If the organization is not of the size that they need or have multiple data centers there are hosting facilities that allow you to replicate your virtual environment to theirs and then be able to activate those virtual machines in case of a local disaster at your facility.
From the user perspective it does all come down to virtualizing the environment to make those workloads more portable. From the supplier and provider perspective it comes down to advancing the technology so that more of the environment can be virtualized. Typically this is not a limitation of processing or memory resources, it is more one of I/O bandwidth, network management storage management and tools to manage the virtual environment.
One of the biggest challenges for the large enterprise and the cloud supplier/provider is network management. The limitations of level 2 networking with spanning tree protocol is well documented. We will cover one of the potential solutions, TRILL, in our upcoming webcast "TRILL - The Most Important Storage Term in 2011". In addition to new standards like TRILL there are solutions available that will extend your virtual investment further than ever. We have discussed these in the past and with the close of VMworld we will explore more of these solutions on the virtual road that make the cloud real.
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George Crump is lead analyst of Storage Switzerland, an IT analyst firm focused on the storage and virtualization segments. Find Storage Switzerland's disclosure statement here.