Don't forget the DIY stuff.
Did someone forget that VDMK also works in any VMWare product (including the free Server, which you can slap on any Linux box) and Oracle's VirtualBox?
If you want to be the public cloud of choice, as Amazon Web Services most certainly does, then you need to have a rich set of tools that allows companies to take virtual server instances running inside their data centers and suck them onto the EC2 cloud and link them into S3 or EBS storage. But you also need to be able to let …
While I accept that the lack of Linux support is annoying, my reading of the blog was that more export formats would be supported in the future.
I'd prefer to stick to kicking cloud providers that didn't allow VM exports rather than one that was heading in the right direction, even if it wasn't moving fast enough...
You could effectively automate backups of VMs in your production DC and align a cloud infrastructure as a backup fail-over service just incase something goes horribly wrong at your DC (which can happen!). This would save a hell of a lot of dosh on investing in a replica setup in seperate DC sitting there doing virtually nothing.
"If you already have all this kit in your DC, what's the value add here?"
That's a big 'if'. If you already have your own DC, AND have all the kit (computing and storage, including backup) AND have a good forecast of your future computing needs, AND a consistent level of usage requirements, then there's little value in using the core AWS cloud services ( I'm thinking EC2 and S3 here).
Most businesses don't fulfill these criteria. Startups might not have decent growth forecasts. Building, and managing DCs are expensive( you need to balance this with the costs of aws for yourself), and many companies usage patterns vary throughout the year. Amazon themselves would require significantly more resources around Christmas time, and travel/holiday companies, require more capacity around the summer. With AWS you take the capacity when you need it, and leave it back when you don't.
I have some difficulty with the fact that they say you can export a VMDK but only one containing certain versions of Windows Server.
How is it fussy about the OS - it's just a disk image? It's a file containing binary 1s and 0s. You move that file to another machine, you mount it. The file doesn't care what file system it's formatted in, let alone what OS if any is installed...
I would suspect its windows only right now, because windows AMIs are simpler than their Linux equivalants. Linux AMIs don't include kernels, where as with windows, all kernels are the same. I'm not suggesting that's an insurmountable problem, but I think windows export technology is a subset of Linux export technology, and I welcome that they released what they had ready at the time, as opposed to waiting until they had the full Linux support in there.
I can see quite a lot of use for this in various scenarios. The obvious one is migrating to another cloud, private or otherwise, but there are others. Testing and development, for example: pull the image of your virtual server down to local hardware, run tests - some of which might be expensive or impossible 'in the cloud', like trying attacks that would upset your host if done on their systems, simulating packet loss, component failures...
OK, you could go and build a "matching" system ... Server 2008 ... current patches - region settings? File system parameters and cluster size? I've had a third party web application fail when deployed to EC2 - one dependency on the locale had crept in, so on the (UK) test server it worked fine but on the (US-built, though running in Dublin), one operation failed. Having a test server which was genuinely a clone of the target would be quicker and easier than hand-building a duplicate, as well as replicating it more accurately.
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