Two Cloud Fronts

Editor’s note: This is the second of two articles on application management using cloud approaches. You can find the first at

When focusing on innovation, two useful approaches exist to handle application management in the cloud. One is to consider the innovations through different service models, like information as a service (IaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS), which are available from cloud service providers. The other is to look at the products available to help build your own internal cloud environments. With both, the advances will often be built into the products, which is one of the main reasons to use them. Both approaches are familiar as cloud methods, but it’s amazing how different they are.

Cloud Service Providers Have Packaged Solutions

Using a cloud provider solution has its advantages if you’re looking to improve application management. When using the IBM SmartCloud solution, you’ll receive help with security administration at the operating system and application level, depending on the service you use. Infrastructure security features are mainly limited to the operating system whereas platform services move closer to the application itself through its supported middleware.

IBM SmartCloud technology will also help manage the application by providing a service level agreement (SLA) for the underlying servers and by making available a service catalog with database and other middleware software that’s tested and ready to run. It also provides IT infrastructure library-based management services that have an impact on the availability of the application, such as incident, problem, change, event, configuration and asset management. Because you’re likely to be providing these services for many applications, some integration with the cloud-provider services will be necessary to devise a complete solution. You’ve probably already done this at least once with other providers of services in your IT solutions.

In addition to these foundational services, the IBM SmartCloud solution has capabilities new to many in IT, like the self-service creation of application environments. During the creation process, you control many attributes of the environment, including the software, the SLA and the optional management services. Many elements are provided as building blocks to integrate; these extensions save days if not weeks of development time that you’d be required to create yourself.

Different Levels of Support

IaaS services, by design, have less of a direct impact on the management of the application itself. Services like patch management have an effect but aren’t by themselves game-changers. However, self-service creation, even at the IaaS level, can have a dramatic impact on making basic application platforms available very quickly. This is a truly significant service.

Because of their nature, PaaS services can have a much greater impact on the deployment of the application. With IBM SmartCloud application services, you describe the policy for scaling and moving applications between private, public and hybrid environments. These application-management advances are achieved through the use of patterns and templates. Patterns streamline the setup and management of resources directly pertaining to the application. Scaling policy manages load balancing by allowing more hardware resources to be assigned based on the response time of the application’s requests. This is an example of the built-in automation provided with the service.

In addition to the supplied templates and patterns, you can develop your own and use them to deploy applications that follow your own corporate policies. Think about the productivity and time saving that can come from this simple but effective approach. Many PaaS solutions focus mainly on the deployment of the application. However, IBM SmartCloud application services have a full lifecycle profile. Its tools are used for collaborating on requirements, design, planning and other development activities using a common information repository.

SaaS and BPaaS

Companies are using IBM SmartCloud software as a service (SaaS) applications and business process as a service (BPaaS) capabilities to accelerate innovation and focus on business goals rather than IT deployment. IBM provides more than 100 applications supported by IBM SmartCloud SaaS operation centers around the world. Through BPaaS, IBM is supporting business processes such as payroll, printing and expense reporting. Typically, these applications are accessed as SaaS over the Internet with a supporting layer of personnel services.

Using SaaS and BPaaS completely changes your application management responsibilities, putting your IT department into an assist mode and heightening the role of your procurement team. The relationship between the cloud service models and their impact on application management is summarized in Figure 1.

Joseph Gulla is the IT leader of Alazar Press, an imprint of Royal Swan Enterprises. Previously, he was an executive IT specialist at IBM ending his 28-year career with the company in August 2012.

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