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.