Migrating running applications and data center workloads between remote
locations across different networks wasn’t supposed to be possible. But
IBM and SAP broke through that barrier and may have created a means for
solution providers to deliver cloud-based computing that’s better
tailored for their customers’ needs.
The European Union-funded Reservoir project works with 13 technology
partners, including IBM and SAP, to develop what Dr. Yaron Wolfsthal,
senior manager for system technologies at IBM’s Research Lab in Haifa,
Israel, calls “a next-generation infrastructure for services and
The project is focused on the idea that no single data center and no
single cloud can serve the needs of all users at all times, and that
there must be interconnection and "federation" of clouds that can be
transparently managed and applications that can be migrated based on
performance and service needs of customers, he says. This cloud
computing project aims to develop technologies to support a
service-based online economy, where resources and services are
transparently provisioned and managed, he says.
What that translates to is utility computing in a commercial
setting, says Wolfsthal, in which solution providers deliver
applications and services to customers via the cloud, and those
customers will receive solutions that are better customized and
tailored to address the specific business needs, performance
requirements and service level needs of their organization.
“Our solutions are complementary with all 13 of our partners,
including SAP. We knew that we could collaborate to address joint
customers pain points,” says Wolfsthal.
“One of the main problems was migrating live, running applications
across remote locations from one network to another – this was
something experts and analysts have been claiming is impossible,” he
The cloud computing approach to IT delivery is an increasingly
popular answer to the challenges of complexity in the data center,
skyrocketing energy costs and the need to dynamically allocate IT
resources to address changing workloads and business priorities.
"The breakthrough we’re showing is that applications can flexibly
move across remote physical servers, regardless of location — which
makes our work a strong enabling technology for the cloud,” explained
Dr. Joachim Schaper, vice president, Europe, Middle East and Asia
(EMEA) of SAP Research. “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. The future cloud will need to support
application mobility across disparate data centers to enhance
performance,” says Schaper.
“The new technology is allowing us to optimize load balancing
of applications across remote servers. When changes in workload occur,
the new technology automatically balances resource utilization and
power consumption by evacuating and turning off under-utilized
servers—even entire data centers—when demand drops, and powering on
idle servers when load increases,” says Wolfsthal
In the demonstration, the migration of SAP workloads across the
cloud is supported by IBM’s Power6 systems, which enable users to run
separate applications on different virtual machines, called logical
partitions, on the same physical server.
The IBM Power6 system’s Live Partition Mobility capability further
allows for the movement of a partition between Power6-based servers in
the data center with no application downtime, resulting in better
system utilization, improved application availability, and energy
Currently, the technology is demonstrated only as a
proof-of-concept, says Wolfsthal, but both IBM and SAP are hopeful that
the solution will soon be integrated into new products.
“We always hope that the breakthroughs we make in the research
division will influence the product development guys,” he says. “We
know there are plenty of real-world applications for this technology,
but where and when it will evolve into a product, that’s up to the
business folks,” Wolfsthal says.