Enterprise IT Consultant Views on Technologies and Trends

Aug 19 2010   2:52AM GMT

IBM Cloudburst Appliance – “Cloud in a Box”

Sasirekha R Profile: Sasirekha R

IBM Cloudburst Appliance – “Cloud in a Box”

IBM cloud offering CloudBurst – also called as “Cloud-in-a-Box” – is provided as an appliance which is self-contained and can enable cloud computing in Enterprise context. An appliance delivers the hardware, software and services that can be readily used with minimal configuration and hence easy to use and provide near-optimal performance. Considering the benefits of the appliance concept, IBM has delivered this fit-to-purpose, self-contained, fully installed appliance that can be used by just plugging in.

IBM CloudBurst appliance is an important component of IBM’s Smarter Planet initiative and was released in June 2009, and the current version is IBM CloudBurst ver 1.2. IBM CloudBurst is positioned for enterprise customers wanting to get started with a private cloud computing model. It aims to provide secure, reliable private cloud computing environment which is simple to setup.

IBM CloudBurst Appliance is built on the IBM BladeCenter platform with Linux xSeries as Operating system and VMware’s ESXi 3.5 embedded hypervisor on each blade inside a standard 42 U rack. It includes the software necessary to manage the hardware and virtual resources:

  • Tivoli Service Automation Manager supports end-user-initiated provisioning and management of virtual servers.
  • Tivoli Provisioning Manager enables automated end-to-end provisioning.
  • A self-service portal interface for reservation of computer, storage, and networking resources, including virtualized resources.
  • Prepackaged automation templates and workflows for common resource types like VMware virtual machines
  • Tivoli Monitoring to manage OS, database and middleware servers.
  • Integration with Tivoli Monitoring for Energy Management that assists efforts to optimize energy consumption for higher efficiency of resources.
  • Integrated IBM Tivoli Usage and Accounting capability to enable chargeback for cloud services.
  • ITDS (LDAP) and DB2 included providing directory service to cloud.

The optional items in CloudBurst are:

  • High availability using Tivoli systems automation and VMWare high availability that can provide protection against unplanned blade outages and can help simplify virtual machine mobility during planned changes.
  • Secure cloud management server with IBM Proventia Virtualized Network Security platform that protects the production cloud with Virtual Patch, Threat Detection and Prevention, Proventia Content Analysis, Proventia Web Application Security, and Network Policy enforcement.

The key features worth noting are:

  • The service catalog that serves as a single repository of all cloud services enabling the end users to create, use and manage services on demand, without any specific IT knowledge or training.
  • Supports ability to manage other heterogeneous resources outside of the IBM CloudBurst environment.
  • Allows administrators to create and store images – snapshots of systems that are preconfigured for particular business purposes – that can then be deployed across the network to a target system.
  • Provides various types of reports from the multiple software components to suit different purposes.

It is essentially a complementary product to IBM’s WebSphere CloudBurst Appliance. IBM WebSphere CloudBurst Appliance helps developers and operations personnel establish and deploy software images and patterns into a cloud environment and is like the “dispenser” of software environments into a private cloud. IBM CloudBurst offers a ready-made cloud environment into which these images and patterns can be deployed, and is designed to be used by an organization that doesn’t want to create a cloud environment using existing assets and is like the “recipient” private cloud environment.

CloudBurst can easily be customized to tune the cloud to special contexts, workloads or business requirements in any way the organization requires. Extensive use of virtualization, embedded service management system, rapid test environment creation functions and automated self-service features pave the way for organizations to generate more business value from IT operations than ever before.

According to Forrester, IBM CloudBurst is a definitely cleaner, better integrated and more efficient data center and could act as a fast path for enterprises who want to jump into Cloud computing. And the major hardware manufacturers have proven that their superior QA and integration capabilities can churn out known good configurations in high volume and at a lower cost than we can build them ourselves. But the potential vendor lock-in is a concern that needs to be considered.

Traditionally infrastructure comprised silos around hardware, software, storage, network which are standardized but needed lot of effort by the customer to make them work in an integrated way.  These integrated solutions from hardware vendors that deliver complete virtual infrastructure in a box is a giant leap, but to make effective use the enterprises should consider their virtualization maturity and try out these in development and test workloads before jumping to use them in production. And most clients seem to be taking this approach of caution combined with an interest to be able to reap the benefits that cloud computing is expected to bring.

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