Monday, 18 January 2010

Is There a Business in Physical to Cloud Conversions?

I have been thinking about if there is a place for some cloud computing vendors to come on the scene to handle what I call the 'P2C' conversion process-taking a physical machine and converting it to an image that can run on a cloud. If we look at the virtualization market, clearly P2V (physical to virtual) was an enabling technology that helped people migrate existing physical hosts into virtual machines, without having to completely rebuild systems from scratch. VMware had a product in the space (and still does) and there was also some popular products provided by 3rd parties like Platespin (who had a nice exit to Novell for ~$200MM).

Do we have the potential for the same story in the cloud?

Well, what’s the same this time around?  You have huge existing deployments of physical machines and virtual machines, some of which IT managers would like to move the cloud, just as you had IT managers who wanted to consolidate physical hosts by converting them to VMs.

But what’s different?  As I understand it, most of the cloud deployments are Linux based, and you’ve got a series of tools (Puppet, Chef, and the like) that allow administrators to very easily deploy cookie-cutter system templates very quickly.  So, the cost of migrating an existing system may be much higher than simply rebuilding through one of these systems and migrating data.

Maybe small environments are the sweet spot for a P2C product.  They are unlikely to have invested time and effort into deploying a configuration management system like Chef or Puppet, but may still want to move their physical systems into a cloud environment.   There is a consultant I know who was recently asked if he could do exactly this for a customer’s small LAMP infrastructure.  This is just one data point but I have a hard time believing there wouldn’t be other SMBs willing to pay for this kind of service.

Is there anything like this out there today?  Agree or disagree with my thesis?   Is there a business here?

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