IBM Offers Comprehensive Cloud Solutions
Today’s cloud offerings feature agility, flexibility and a consumable way to pay for the technology.
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By Shirley S. Savage01/02/2018
Organizations’ cloud needs are changing. In response to those evolving needs, today’s cloud offerings feature agility, flexibility and a consumable way to pay for the technology. IBM offers a range of comprehensive solutions for on-premises, off-premises or hybrid cloud deployments.
Four key issues—speed and agility of app deployment; pay-for-use capacity consumption; simplified management and automation; and compute resource deployment flexibility—are shaping organizations’ cloud requirements and strategies right now, says Steve Sibley, vice president, IBM Power Systems* Offering Management.
Today’s Cloud Needs
Let’s explore these a bit further, beginning with agility. Today’s business climate requires that organizations be able to build and deploy applications quickly, whether in a public or private cloud. “Cloud gives them more flexibility because of the speed at which you can deploy those applications,” Sibley explains.
Furthermore, clients are shifting their procurement processes to pay for only the compute they use. Periodic peaks in workload demands require capacity be elastic, so clients can easily add or remove capacity as needed. While that consumable payment option is common in public clouds, clients are now requesting similar payment flexibility in private clouds, says Sibley.
Third, clients are demanding simplified management and automation of their IT infrastructures. Traditional IT infrastructure management has become too complex and slow when companies must shift more investment to new, innovative business solutions. Companies must respond more quickly with those solutions. This is driving the shift from on-premises IT infrastructure management to cloud management technologies and hyperconverged infrastructures.
Finally, clients expect compute resource flexibility to optimize their processes and afford access to additional resources when needed. Public clouds have always provided the additional compute resource access, but businesses are asking for more flexibility. It’s now a multicloud world with 71 percent of organizations already using services from three or more clouds (ibm.co/2hIHnQk ). Organizations want to move their virtual machines between clouds seamlessly.
“The vast majority of our clients see a hybrid or multicloud deployment strategy giving them the best return on their investments while providing the most agile capability from a business standpoint,” Sibley says. “That’s why IBM is moving to where all of our products—as well as many of our partnerships—are ready for the cloud.”
IBM and Nutanix Initiative
One of the significant new offerings in IBM’s cloud portfolio comes from a partnership with Nutanix, a leader in hyperconverged infrastructure. This integrated offering gives clients a turnkey hyperconverged solution ideal for deploying critical workloads in large enterprises by combining Nutanix’s Enterprise Cloud Platform software with Power Systems technology.
“Nutanix sees the opportunity to bring POWER* into its management infrastructure because of IBM’s leadership in data and cognitive workloads that can be managed by hyperconverged systems,” Sibley says. “Nutanix and POWER create a winning combination by bringing together simplicity and speed of infrastructure management with the most efficient and highest performing systems for data-intensive workloads.”
With one click, clients can manage their entire system—including updates. This reduces downtime and the need to manage servers, storage and cloud environments in separate instances, reducing latency.
The second key piece of the cloud infrastructure story is the IBM Cloud PowerVC* Manager. Built on OpenStack technology, IBM Cloud PowerVC Manager extends clients’ infrastructure into a true cloud management environment. It simplifies management with self-service provisioning for app developers and policy governance for the operations teams. The new release in December also lets clients import and export images between clouds with ease. Clients can do DevOps on a public cloud, export their images and import them to an on-premises production environment and run the images seamlessly.
“The vast majority of our clients see a hybrid or multicloud deployment strategy giving them the best return on their investments while providing the most agile capability from a business standpoint.”—Steve Sibley, vice president, IBM Power Systems Offering Management
The latest release of IBM Cloud PowerVC Manager includes Database as a Service capability as a technology preview. This new capability allows database administrators and developers to easily deploy a fully configured private cloud with automated provisioning for open-source database services. Users can gain the efficiency of a cloud delivery model, while also maintaining oversight and control of resource allocation and secure data policies.
IBM also announced a new edition to the PowerVC family to simplify the deployment of scale-out infrastructures for on-premises DevOps environments. IBM Cloud PowerVC Manager for SDI (Software Defined Infrastructures) integrates IBM Spectrum Scale* to enable clients to simply and easily scale out their private cloud environments by adding more nodes. Clients can also use this capability to manage their KVM-based systems in their PowerVC cloud.
The third major element of the Power Systems cloud strategy involves the enablement of the new IBM Cloud Private offering across both Nutanix and PowerVC. IBM Cloud Private software is designed to enable companies to create on-premises cloud capabilities similar to public clouds to accelerate app development. It’s built on a Kubernetes-based architecture that supports both Docker containers and Cloud Foundry. It also facilitates integration and portability of workloads as they evolve to any cloud environment, including the public IBM Cloud.
IBM also continues to bolster security for the cloud. IBM PowerSC* security and compliance manager has a new user interface that integrates its capabilities into PowerVC. As clients deploy new clouds using PowerVC, they can be assured that the clouds have all of the required security profiles and connections defined within PowerSC.
This is important as most security vulnerabilities come from infrastructures that don’t meet defined security and compliance requirements, Sibley notes. PowerSC security and compliance ensures that all of the tools and capabilities are in place. As malware looks for vulnerabilities, PowerSC security and compliance stymies these attacks by keeping clients’ security up to date.
PowerSC multi-factor authentication (MFA) provides another level of assurance. Similar to mobile authentication notifications, PowerSC security and compliance will ask administrators for a second or third factor of authentication. This ensures that the individual has the authority to make the changes in the infrastructure. The PCI DSS as well as U.S. federal guidelines require MFA.
IBM’s focus on security, performance, scalability and availability is as important for the cloud as it is for traditional infrastructures. By using Power Systems servers, clients can leverage the platform’s traditional advantages with the flexibility and variable workload environment that cloud offers. Clients that are reluctant to explore the cloud should rest assured they will be gaining capabilities, not losing them, Sibley says.
Some clients may be committed to cloud, but aren’t certain how to migrate their traditional infrastructure. They may be using cloud for some tasks, but need guidance on bringing core databases and mission-critical applications to cloud. Clients can use the PowerVC and PowerVM solutions to evolve their infrastructure and integrate it to cloud.
Moreover, IBM makes it simple for clients to monitor and manage their traditional and cloud-based infrastructure in one place. IBM Cloud Management Console aggregates all of the information on a client’s infrastructure into a single console. Patch planning lets clients see the status of patches across the enterprise at a glance and makes it easy to see what needs updating. Further, the Power Systems platform integrates into cloud orchestration software like VMware’s vRealize product.
Another significant development is the ability for clients to purchase and deploy on-premises capacity from the IBM Marketplace in minutes. In today’s business climate where clients want to align costs to usage and need the ability to add capacity quickly, IBM Power Systems Elastic Capacity on Demand on IBM Marketplace fulfills both criteria. If the business needs additional compute capacity for the holiday season or if a developer needs capacity for a new project, the infrastructure operations team can purchase and turn on processors in minutes, not days or weeks. Like IBM’s Capacity on Demand capability, the hardware infrastructure is on-premises, but clients only pay for what they use. “That’s really exciting for our clients,” Sibley says.
Open management is the foundation for cloud deployment. That’s why OpenStack-based management capability is incorporated into PowerVC. IBM is committed to the support of open-source deployment and delivery modules such as Chef, Ansible, Cloud-Init and Yum. Moreover, IBM ensures that those key VM execution modules are current on Power Systems and secure from a vulnerability standpoint, Sibley says.
Finally, open source is at the heart of microservices and how new applications are developed and deployed. “Openness is really driving our cloud strategy and direction for IBM as a whole and for Power Systems,” Sibley notes. IBM’s commitment to open source encompasses the full adoption of the Linux* stack, the capabilities of deploying KVM on POWER, little endian Linux, and the OpenPOWER Foundation, which now has 340-plus members backing POWER architecture in an open environment.
Powering the Cloud
A common misconception in the market place is that cloud is synonymous with x86. That simply isn’t the case, notes Sibley. “All of the things that you can do on a cloud in an Intel* environment, you can do on a POWER environment,” he says. The Power Systems platform runs workloads, particularly data-oriented workloads, twice as fast as Intel and needs half the infrastructure required for an x86 environment.
Whether a client is just beginning with cloud or was an early adopter, IBM provides comprehensive solutions for their unique business requirements. And as cloud deployments continue to evolve, IBM’s offerings will keep transforming to put clients’ needs at the forefront of innovation.
Shirley S. Savage is a writer and communications strategist. She's fascinated by tech, science, finance, energy and the way innovative people think.