Amazon Web Services has announced a new feature called VM Import, which allows IT departments to move virtual machine images from their internal data centres to the cloud.
The new feature can be used in a number of migration and disaster recovery scenarios, according to a blog post. VM Import can handle VMware VMDK (Virtual Machine Disk Format) images of Windows Server 2008 SP2.
To import images, IT departments use Amazon EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) API tools to point to a virtual machine image in their existing environment. Next, they specify the amount of compute capacity they need and where they want to run the image in Amazon's cloud platform. VM Import will then automatically transfer the image file, migrate the image and create the instance in Amazon's cloud, Amazon said.
For the move to work, the virtual machine must be in a stopped state before generating the VMDK image, according to an Amazon FAQ. The virtual machine can't be in a paused or suspended state. Also, encrypted disks and encrypted image files are not supported.
The length of time to import a virtual machine depends on the size of the disk image and your network connection speed. For example, a 10GB image takes about two hours to import over a 10M-bps broadband connection.
The conversion process is free of charge. But users have to pay for bandwidth for the upload as well as for storage and computing capacity, which are all charged at Amazon's usual rates.
Amazon plans to make VM Import compatible with additional operating systems and virtualisation platforms. Additional operating systems will include other versions of Windows and Linux. Other virtualisation platforms include Microsoft's Hyper-V and Citrix's Xen Server.
Amazon also plans to make VM Import available via a plug-in for VMware's vSphere management console in the coming months. People who want to participate in a private beta of the vSphere console plug-in should send an e-mail email@example.com.
Companies that want to import Amazon EC2 Windows instances to their virtualised VMware environment can use the vCenter Converter tool, VMware said.