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New AWS cloud migration tools stoke lock-in concerns

Amazon launched a host of cloud migration tools to make it as easy as possible to move data into its cloud, but IT shops want a simple cloud exit plan as well.

LAS VEGAS – AWS unleashed a multitude of cloud migration tools meant to quickly ingest massive amounts of data and sensitive applications into its cloud, but some IT pros said they're wary of getting in too deep.

The Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud migration product parade began with Kinesis Firehose during the keynote presentation during the AWS re:Invent conference here this week. Kinesis Firehose can take data from any streaming data source and concatenate, compress, encrypt and transfer the data into Simple Storage Service (S3) or Redshift with one PUT API call and doesn't require users to write "glue code" between services.

Then came Snowball, an update to the AWS Import / Export tool which uses a hardened 50 terabyte storage appliance to ship customer data in large chunks for ingestion into the Amazon cloud. The service costs $200 per data transfer job and each appliance comes with a Kindle attached that generates the correct address for shipment back to Amazon.

Previously, storage Import / Export was based on removable disk drives users had to buy themselves, load data onto, decide whether to encrypt, and then ship back to AWS – all of which carries a lot of opportunity for human error, according to AWS Senior Vice President Andy Jassy.

But while data transfer in using Snowball is free, data transfer out costs three cents per gigabyte – at petabyte scale, this can add up.

Amazon then introduced the preview of the new AWS Database Migration Service, which allows users to migrate production databases to AWS with minimal downtime. The service replicates data continuously, migrates databases of any size and includes real-time monitoring of the replication. A 1 TB migration with this service will cost about three dollars, according to Jassy.

Finally, customers who want to move not only from their data center to the public cloud but from proprietary systems to open-source databases can use the new AWS Schema Conversion Tool, free of charge.

AWS data collection a one way street 

Still, while AWS maintains its prediction that the vast majority of enterprises will not own their own data centers over the next decade or two, some customers were nervous about the fact that these easy AWS cloud migration tools only move data in one direction.

"Hybrid cloud" in this context refers to on-premises and public cloud, namely the AWS cloud, but some customers here said they wanted to also hear about AWS' plans to support multiple public clouds.

"I see more and more people who want to be cloud-agnostic," said an AWS certified architect who works for a stealth startup based in the Northeast. "I guess I shouldn't be surprised they didn't address that, but you can't pretend everything is going to end up 'all-in' – that's not the reality for a lot of people."

Another attendee said she sticks with platform-agnostic tools where she can.

"I tend to use technologies like Nagios and Puppet instead of CloudFormation, so I'm not locked into AWS," said Effie Bradley, Chief Technology Architect for the Texas Digital Library, a consortium of higher education institutions that provides shared services in support of research and teaching.

Much more to cloud migration than technology

Meanwhile, a session led by reps from GE Oil & Gas detailed the people and process challenges that come with cloud migration; the company has migrated 261 applications to AWS over the last 18 months as it looks to move a total of 400 apps by the end of the year.

The process requires talent and training from IT staff to pull off regardless of what tools are used, according to Benjamin Cabanas, director of Cloud Factory for GE.

"We had to learn Agile [development methods] as much as we had to learn to migrate apps to the cloud," Cabanas said.

GE will take advantage of the new AWS cloud migration tools, Cabanas said.

Despite the massive effort it's taken to migrate GE Oil & Gas into Amazon's cloud, Oil & Gas CTO Benjamin Wilson said the company doesn't fear lock-in.

"I think lock-in is a big misnomer," Wilson said. "Microsoft and Rackspace are inventing things and making it simpler to move to their clouds, too."

Beth Pariseau is senior news writer for SearchAWS. Write to her at [email protected]

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