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A preview of the live migration of working compute jobs between (VMware) clouds, stole the show at VMworld 2015.

By Barb Darrow
August 31, 2015

On Monday, VMware showed off technology that it says will move working computing jobs between private and public clouds provided all the clouds involved run VMware VMW software. An analogy would be if a car company could move an automotive assembly line between one plant and another without shutting it down. You can see the difficulty.

The crowd at VMworld 2015 applauded the demo of cross-cloud live migration but details on availability were scant. A blog post about the “Project Skyscraper” preview said the goal is to let customers “extend their data center to the public cloud and vice-a-versa by seamlessly operating across boundaries while providing enterprise-level security and business continuity.” No timeframe was given.

VMware’s vSphere leads the market in server virtualization, technology which crams many applications onto fewer servers. Virtualization is key both inside a company’s own data center and in cloud computing.

Current vSphere customers can already use a feature called vMotion to move virtual machines between physical servers without shutting them down. That is very helpful if there is a hardware failure or other snafu. Extending that concept so that a running virtual machine can be moved from one cloud to another without interruption would clearly be of interest to many customers.And that’s what the proposed cross-cloud vMotion feature is all about.

On the public cloud side—where many customers run computing jobs on shared infrastructure—Google GOOG debuted live migration within an existing cloud zone last year. Amazon AMZN Web Services approaches workload migration differently, at least at least as far as we know becaase it doesn’t share much on that front. Microsoft MSFT touts a different take on workload migration. No one other than VMware is talking about live migration between clouds. At least not yet.

One VMworld attendee said he does not expect to see cross-cloud vMotion any time soon. And, that may be an issue for VMware which must win mind share in a public cloud dominated by AWS. By most accounts, vCloud Air has not found a ton of traction. VMware hopes that its many current vSphere customers will stick with its vSphere-based vCloud Air technology instead of moving to AWS, Microsoft Azure or Google Cloud Platform public clouds.

If a company wants to run some workloads in its own dedicated private cloud and others in a public cloud, it’s easier if the technologies running on both sides of that divide are the same. And, that’s why VMware pitches vSphere in house and vCloud Air in the cloud and Microsoft says customers running Azure Pack internally can build smooth hybrid clouds with Azure as the public cloud component.

For more on cloud computing, check out the video below.

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