SAP and IBM on Tuesday unveiled a cloud migration service at the CeBIT 2009 show in Hanover, aimed at moving of SAP applications across Power6 systems and via cloud computing.
The companies are developing the service as part of the Reservoir cloud-computing project, a European Union-funded and IBM-led joint research initiative of 13 European partners intended to develop technologies that help automate the demand for IT resources in a cloud-computing environment.
The Reservoir project is looking at issues such as the increasing complexity of large datacentres, the requirement to dynamically adapt IT structures to changing business requirements and circumstances, and increasing energy costs.
In the technology demonstration at CeBIT, IBM and SAP showed that enterprise applications can be run inside the cloud. They demonstrated how workloads can be migrated across physical servers and datacentres.
Yaron Wolfsthal, chief researcher at IBM's Haifa Labs, told ZDNet UK that the demonstration illustrated how IBM and SAP could show "different workloads being migrated from one physical server to another in a virtual environment".
"What we have been working on is being able to move an application from one server to another, either in the datacentre or from one datacentre to another, and making that process happen so that, while it moves, the application carries on working normally," said Wolfsthal. "We have demonstrated this happening across geographies, from one to another."
Wolfsthal said that for now the process will only work on like-for-like environments, so from one SAP application running on Power6 to another also working on Power6. "That is the limitation," he said, "but I believe this is the first time anyone has demonstrated live migration from one physical server to another in this way".
However, with this development, Wolfsthal said that IBM and SAP were able to show "multiple, interconnect clouds" working. "You can move applications from one cloud to another now," he said.
The work is continuing as IBM and SAP further develop it, Wolfsthal said. "We are looking at areas like load balancing and being able to easily drop under-used servers and balance the system automatically as this happens," he said. Wolfsthal claimed that they had already had considerable success with the project but stressed that it was still a research project run with the help of the EU. "Information from this will be freely available for anyone to use," he said. "But do we think IBM may turn it into a product? I hope so."
In a statement, IBM said it offers a Live Partition Mobility capability to move one IBM Power6 server to another in the datacentre "with no application downtime".
IBM's partner, SAP, also believes this is a promising new technology. Joachim Schaper, vice president for Europe at SAP Research, said in a statement: "The breakthrough is that applications can flexibly move across remote physical servers, regardless of location, which makes our work a strong enabling technology for the cloud."