Tuesday, July 28, 2009

IBM CloudBurst Appliance Part 2 – What’s inside the Box?

Samuel Sharaf, Solution Director West Coast

In the first blog entry on this topic, I talked about IBM offerings for cloud computing (i.e. the CloudBurst appliance) and discussed its high level overview and capabilities. In this second part I will discuss the value proposition of the device and explore the technical architecture of the device - mainly what it consists of, or what you are buying when you spend more than 200k to buy one.

So again, what is CloudBurst? CloudBurst is a service delivery platform which consists of prepackaged and pre-configured servers, storage, networking, and software needed to set up a private cloud. These resources (hardware and software) can be provisioned and enabled to provide virtual server resources for application development, testing, and other activities that normally have to wait on physical hardware to be procured and deployed.

An important question to ask here is, what value this device is going to provide. In today’s market customers are largely investing in two categories of solutions, one which provides efficiency in the data centers across their IT organizations and secondly, solutions which help them differentiate from their competitors. Typically, IT data centers spend 30% to 50% of resources in developing, testing and configuring environments.

Some time it takes months to establish data center environments and configure them to be consistent with the requirements. With CloudBurst, a developer can log into a self service portal, select resources required and timeframe, select an image to provision from the service catalog, and be ready to go in minutes as opposed to months. So the idea is that if the efficiency of the data centers improve by the use of CloudBurst device, the available resources can focus and spend time on innovating products which differentiate them from competition.

So how does CloudBurst device accomplish this? To answer this, we have to look inside the box. Unlike DataPower devices which are hardware devices built for specific purposes (e.g. xml acceleration, security, integration etc), CloudBurst actually consists of several different hardware devices/components which are pre built and packaged for specific architecture needs and cloud requirements. A typical CloudBurst device (base configuration) consists of:

  • 1 42U rack
  • 1 3650M2 Systems Management Server
  • 1 HS22 cloud management blade
  • 1 BladeCenter H chassis with redundant Ethernet and Fibre Channel switch modules
  • 3 managed HS22 blades
  • DS3400 FC attached storage

Some important things to note here are, the 3650M2 management server hosts the pre packaged software stack (discussed below) and the HS22 blade hosts the IBM Blue Cloud computing software. The 3 managed HS22 blades hosts the client provided VM ware images, which can be cataloged for on demand provisioning. I won’t go into details of each of the individual hardware components (networking, storage etc) here in this blog as their description can be found on IBM website.

The device also comes pre packaged with IBM software, which includes:
  • Systems Director 6.1.1 with BOFM, AEM; ToolsCenter 1.0; DS Storage Manager for DS4000 v10.36; VMware VirtualCenter 2.5 U4; LSI SMI-S provider for DS3400
  • VMware ESXi 3.5 U4 hypervisor on all blades
  • Tivoli Provisioning Manager v7.1
    • DB2 ESE 9.1; WAS ND; TDS
    • Special purpose customized portal and appliance wizard that enables client portal interaction
  • Tivoli Monitoring v6.2.1
    • OS pack

Note that it includes third party software from VMware (virtual center and ESX hypervisor) and IBM cloud computing software which makes use of Tivoli provisioning software components. An interesting point to note is that even though the CloudBurst device consists of several hardware and software components, it is sold, delivered and supported as a single product.

In Part 3 of this blog series, I will discuss the logical architecture of the CloudBurst device and a practical scenario which demonstrates its usage in a real client environment.

Samuel Sharaf is a Solution Director at Prolifics on the West coast with real world customer expertise with Portal implementations, Dashboard, Forms and Content Management. Sam also has expertise with migrating applications from non-IBM platforms to IBM WebSphere Application and Portal Servers.

Monday, July 20, 2009

IBM CloudBurst Appliance – Part I

Samuel Sharaf, Solution Director West Coast

Having lived and breathed in the IBM technology world for the last 10 years, I was intrigued when IBM made the announcement a few months ago (June 16th, 2009) about the CloudBurst appliance. The name of the appliance, CloudBurst, was an interesting one and what it could do almost sounded like magical. A device which can bring together hardware, software and services needed to establish a private cloud? Sounded too good to be true. Obviously, the name of the appliance suggested that It had to do something with cloud computing – a concept which is fast gaining popularity.

As part of our technology group initiative, I decided to take a deep dive into understanding the appliance, its capabilities as they relate to cloud computing and IBM technology, and ultimately how we can we position it to our customers.

In this first part of blog series on CloudBurst, I will share the device overview and its general capabilities at high level. The subsequent blogs will go in more depth in describing its practical scenarios, architecture and real world usage.

IBM CloudBurst provides everything you need to start delivering services much faster than you do today, while reducing costs and providing the benefits of a dynamic infrastructure. It is a pre-packaged private cloud offering that integrates the service management system, server, storage and services needed to establish a private cloud. This offering takes the guess work out of establishing a private cloud by pre-installing and configuring the necessary software on the hardware and leveraging services for customization to your environment. All you need to do is install your applications and start leveraging the benefits of cloud computing, like virtualization, scalability and a self server portal for provisioning new services.

Summarizing the capabilities:

  • A service delivery platform that is pre-integrated at the factory
  • Built-for-purpose based on the architectural requirement of specific workloads
  • Delivered and supported as a single product
  • Prepackaged, pre-configured servers, storage, networking, software and installation
  • services needed to stand up a private cloud

IBM CloudBurst includes everything from a Self-service portal that allows end users to request their own services and improve service delivery, automation to provision the services and virtualization to make system resource available for the new services thus reducing costs significantly. This is all delivered through the integrated pre-packaged IBM CloudBurst offering which includes implementation services and a single support interface to make it easy.

In part II of this series we will go into more depth in exploring individual features of the appliance in more detail. Stay tuned…

Samuel Sharaf is a Solution Director at Prolifics on the West coast with real world customer expertise with Portal implementations, Dashboard, Forms and Content Management. Sam also has expertise with migrating applications from non-IBM platforms to IBM WebSphere Application and Portal Servers.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Portals: The Next Generation

Devi Gupta, Vice President of Marketing

We’ve been building Portal applications for years…with over 230 implementations under our belt. The obvious “first implementation” done by most organizations is to create a Content Portal, otherwise known as Employee Portal, Intranet Portal, etc. We can get a typical content portal up and running in 3 weeks and can obviously do more extensive custom implementations. Today we are seeing the “next generation” trend for these portals to be adding in Dashboards and adding in Social Networking capabilities.

For Social Networking we are starting to introduce Lotus Connections and Quickr into a Portal environment to benefit from communities, blogs, wikis, etc. We’ve done this internally at Prolifics as well for our own Intranet and its really improving our ability to collaborate and share information.

For Dashboards, portals have been accessing dashboards, reports, and scorecards already, and you can also start to make those items actionable, such as drilling down for quicker problem resolution and associating reports with different applications. But many dashboard solutions require programming. If you already own Cognos for your Business Intelligence data and have reports, then you can start to make these available within a portal and can start to make these have actionable qualities as well. Generally gaining a richer overall environment. And in this case you don’t require portal programming capabilities.

When will you start exploiting your portal to capitalize on the information available to you? These little changes can make a big difference to the value of your existing portal.

Devi Gupta directs the market positioning for Prolifics and helps manage the company’s strategic alliance with IBM. Under her guidance, Prolifics has made the critical transition from a product and services company to becoming a highly reputable WebSphere service provider and winner of several awards at IBM including the Business Partner Leadership Award, Best Portal Solution, IMPACT Best SOA Solution, and Overall Technical Excellence Award. Ms. Gupta has been key to Prolifics and has fulfilled a variety of principal functions since joining Prolifics in 1991, from Product Manager to VP of Marketing. Her computer science background has allowed Ms. Gupta to move freely between the engineering and the business development/marketing sides of the technology industry, which gives her a unique ability to apply the client’s perspective to the on-going evolution of Prolifics’ technology and solutions.