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The Powerful Capabilities of IBM Cloud Private and IBM Cloud Automation Manager

IBM Cloud Automation Manager provides a powerful collection of automation capabilities that help make cloud computing both functional and affordable.

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This post is the second of two posts that have a specific focus on cloud automation with IBM LinuxONE Rockhopper II as it’s an IBM Z product built for cloud. Last week, I set the groundwork for the IBM Cloud Private (ICP) discussion with a review of the IBM LinuxONE Rockhopper II announcement from 2018. One main focus of the post was the powerful virtualization technology that it supports as virtualization is such a key dimension of cloud computing. 
This week, I will discuss ICP and IBM Cloud Automation Manager. IBM Cloud Automation Manager provides a powerful collection of automation capabilities that help make cloud computing both functional and affordable. IBM is rapidly improving its cloud products. For example, ICP was enhanced in 2019 to deliver integrated platform management and orchestration capabilities through a highly secured private cloud, making it possible to run the entire private cloud infrastructure on IBM Z. I am getting ahead of myself. What is ICP? 

IBM Cloud Private 

ICP is a consistent and scalable cloud platform that runs on IBM LixuxONE Rockhopper II. It’s built on open-source frameworks, like containers, Kubernetes and Cloud Foundry. In addition, it offers common services for self-service deployment, monitoring, logging and security, and a portfolio of middleware, data and analytics.
ICP ensures data in transit and data at rest security for all platform services leveraging IBM Z pervasive encryption. All services expose network endpoints via TLS and store data, which is encrypted at rest. To run a container in production, Kubernetes brings orchestration primitives into the environment. ICP integrates with the Docker registry V2 API to provide a local registry service that functions similar to the cloud-based registry service called Docker Hub.

IBM Cloud Private Hosted Trial

An ideal way to get a better understanding of ICP and the technology it supports is to take a tutorial. This one, called IBM Cloud Private Hosted Trial, is rich with ideas including:
  • Accessing the environment: A few minutes after completing the reservation form, check your inbox for an email that contains instructions about the environment you reserved. Follow the instructions to log in to the instance.
  • IBM Cloud Private overview: Six top ideas are surveyed
  • IBM Cloud Private cluster details: Your four hosted nodes are detailed 
  • Microclimate: An end-to-end development environment that lets you rapidly create, edit and deploy applications
  • Transformation advisor: Using this tool, you can analyze your on-premises Java EE applications (WebSphere, JBoss, Weblogic and others) for rapid deployment to a public, private or hybrid cloud environment
  • Sample microservice application: A sample microservices application named Stocktrader is deployed in this environment 
  • Integration with LDAP: Openldap server was deployed in the environment and will be used to provide LDAP authentication
  • Monitoring: You can use the ICP cluster monitoring dashboard to monitor the status of your cluster and applications
  • Logging: ICP logging uses the elastic search, logging and Kibana (ELK) stack for logging
  • Istio: A joint collaboration between IBM, Google and Lyft, Istio provides an easy way to create a service mesh that will manage many of these complex tasks automatically, without the need to modify the microservices themselves
  • Kubernetes operational view: Ten characteristics of the operational view are discussed 
  • Weavescope: A visualization and monitoring tool for Docker and Kubernetes
  • Sample Linux .Net application: ASP.Net application can be deployed to ICP cluster
  • ICP community support: Support comes from ICP Public Slack Channel and Stackoverflow
  • Summary: Throughout the tutorial, the student explored the a hands-on experience with ICP in a representative production environment. Also, the student gained experience with tools to rapidly build and deploy cloud-native applications.
As you can read from this section on the hosted trial, there’s more to be learned than just experiencing the ICP—it’s all of the resources and technology in the ecosystem that it embraces. 

IBM Cloud Automation Manager

IBM Cloud Automation Manager  is a multicloud, self-service management platform running on ICP that empowers developers and administrators to meet business demands and not worry about creating other software relating to infrastructure. This robust software platform allows organizations to efficiently manage and deliver services through end-to-end automation while enabling developers to build applications aligned with enterprise policies.  
Three main design points for the product include:
  1. Self-service: The software provides self-service access for developers and the ability to automate the application lifecycle using prebuilt automation packs 
  2. Automated provisioning: The software deploys and configures infrastructure and applications across any cloud environment with workflow orchestration
  3. Governance and control: The product maintains control through effective, enforceable governance and intelligent insights for a security-rich and compliant IT environment

A Closer Look

Cloud Automation Manager uses open-source Terraform to manage and deliver cloud infrastructure as code. Cloud infrastructure that’s delivered as code is reusable, able to be placed under version control, can be shared across distributed teams and can be used to easily replicate environments. This is a powerful yet predictable system that helps IT to meet the developing needs of business while providing stability.  
The Cloud Automation Manager content library is prepopulated with sample templates to help you get started quickly. Use the sample templates as is or customize them as needed. You can also use Cloud Automation Manager to deploy a Chef runtime environment for more advanced application configuration and deployment.
The cloud automation manager works to automate the provisioning of workloads, whether virtual machines (VMs) and/or containers and their infrastructure prerequisites. It’s used to compose and orchestrate services made out of both VMs and containers. It can be used to integrate multiple infrastructure as code and configuration manager solutions. It has the flexibility to provision workloads on multiple clouds,  public or private, and integrate with DevOps tools. It’s a remarkably flexible tool for cloud management and automation. 

What’s Next?

Next week, I’ll start a new topic area on independent software vendors (ISVs) and service providers. IBM works with a network of service providers and 700 ISVs with over 4,000 applications on IBM Z. 
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