A US start-up has launched what it claims is the painless way to move private data into the public cloud. An application virtualisation company called AppZero has introduced a set of tools designed to move server-based applications from the private data centre to services such as Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud in seconds.

AppZero's new technology, launched at the Demo 09 event, can even move applications from one external cloud to another, sidestepping the problem of vendor lock-in. "Simply installing applications in the data centre - that usually takes hours. Moving them into the cloud - even longer. With our software you are able to move applications in a matter of seconds," AppZero CEO Greg O'Connor said at Demo.

AppZero's Virtual Application Appliances (VAAs) consist of the application and all its dependencies, but no operating system. Creating the virtual appliances can take as long as two hours, but once created they are portable and easily moved from the data centre to the cloud.

AppZero, formerly known as Trigence, showed the Demo audience how to move a VAA from a private data centre to Amazon Web Services, and then to GoGrid, another cloud hosting service. It's a simple mouse click-and-drag operation, like moving files in Windows Explorer. It took just a few seconds to move the application from a private data centre to Amazon, and a minute or so when moving the workload from Amazon to GoGrid.

AppZero VAAs are ideal for middleware applications from the likes of Microsoft, Oracle, IBM and MySQL, the company said. The VAA toolset is available immediately, starting at US$500(£355). A few pre-built appliances are also available.

AppZero says its product complements hypervisor technology from virtualisation vendors such as VMware, which is also talking about the idea of joining private data centres to public clouds. VMware last month said its forthcoming Virtual Datacenter Operating System will connect customer data centers to those of external cloud providers, letting them provision and manage all internal and external virtualised resources within the same software console.

AppZero's attempt to make applications portable across multiple cloud services is also reminiscent of work being done by the Open Cloud Consortium, a group of universities that is promoting open frameworks that would let clouds operated by different entities work seamlessly together.