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IBM and SAP preview live motion between clouds

In a joint demonstration at CeBit, IBM researchers previewed a technology to enable live movement of SAP application workloads across remote cloud data centers.

At CeBit, IBM and SAP today are announcing a ground-breaking technology demonstration in which SAP applications were moved live between IBM Power6 servers running in remote locations.

The technology, developed as a part of the European Union's Reservoir project, is targeted at service providers and enterprises that wish to use workload mobility to enhance performance and quality of service.

According to Yaron Wolfsthal, senior manager for system technologies at IBM's Research Lab in Haifa, Israel, this technology is aimed at providing the Reservoir participants with "energy-efficient, borderless delivery of IT services that are driven by actual demands":

"The new technology is allowing us to realize the vision of true cloud computing by moving applications across disparate interconnected networks to optimize load balancing across remote servers.

When changes in workload occur, the new technology autonomically balances resource utilization and power consumption across remote servers. This is done, for example, by evacuating and turning off underutilized servers (and possibly entire data centers) when demand drops, and powering on idle servers when load increases."

Joachim Schaper, vice president in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa of SAP Research, explained that the research team sees the technology as "a strong enabling technology for the cloud":

"Specifically, in cloud-scale environments, service providers will need to provide users with access to services across the cloud. Service providers will need to compete on performance and quality of service--and so the future cloud will need to support application mobility across disparate data centers to enhance performance."

There were few details about the specific technologies that enabled the demonstration, though IBM's Power6-based servers and AIX operating system were called out as critical elements. Specifically, IBM's Live Partition Mobility, which allows an AIX logical partition to be moved live from one server to another, played a central role. That technology is currently limited to systems within a single data center.

As I've noted in the past, workload mobility remains one of the most heavily anticipated future benefits of standardized cloud-computing environments. Promising to enable a truly elastic online marketplace of information technology services--increasingly known as "the Intercloud"--technologies like the one IBM previewed Tuesday promise to revolutionize both the cost and the capabilities of cloud computing for enterprises and consumers worldwide.

In addition to IBM, VMware has announced work toward workload mobility across data centers through its VCloud initiative, and the Cloud Computing Interoperability Forum is looking at similar technologies.