Posts Tagged IBM Systems Director

Readying a Private Cloud

Cloud computing dominates the IT conversation today, but what type of cloud—public, private, or hybrid—is right for your organization and how do you get there? “It had been clear that the hybrid approach to cloud computing is of most interest for enterprises,” writes Czaroma Roman in Business Week earlier this month.

Or maybe not. According to IDC: As IT executives look for ways to systematically reduce costs, provide faster time to value, and improve reliability, they are turning to cloud computing and the development of private cloud capabilities from within their datacenters. Click here and scroll down to access the IDC report.

An IBM cloud workload adoption study found 60% of respondents were adopting private clouds while 30% were opting for public clouds for certain workloads. Driving this interest in cloud computing is the need for a more flexible IT infrastructure and a new IT delivery model inspired by consumer Internet services, notes Andy Wachs, an IBM system software manager.

Wachs, here, lays out a simple progression for any company’s journey into the cloud. It starts with server, storage, and network virtualization. To achieve the efficiency and flexibility inherent in a private cloud, however, those IT resources must be virtualized. Without that you can’t move forward.

Wachs’ progression continues with a variety of management processes. These include provisioning, monitoring, workflow orchestration, and tracking/metering resource usage. Behind all this management lies automation. Private clouds quickly become too complex to manage manually, especially as the organization progresses to self-service on demand. For this automation is crucial.

Cloud-based self-service on demand means a business manager preparing to launch a new business initiative can simply access a catalog using a browser and check off the IT resources that must be provisioned for the initiative. This eliminates the delays and wrestling match with IT that otherwise occurs whenever IT resources must be requested and set up. The business manager finishes up by checking off the attributes wanted for the requested IT resources, attributes around performance, data protection, availability, and such and then clicks DONE. Ideally, the requested resources, after an automated governance check, materialize in the private cloud properly configured and ready for use within hours if not minutes—at least this is the goal.

As expected, IBM offers services and products at each step of the journey. The main pieces are IBM CloudBurst, a private cloud in a box, and Systems Director and Tivoli management tools.

Other vendors have moved into the cloud area too. HP offers its CloudStart, a fast deployment cloud product.

Open source Red Hat offers a cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) product called CloudForms. The product, now in beta, was demonstrated recently in Boston. It is expected to ship this fall.

Even small vendors are getting involved. Zyrion offers Traverse, a virtualization and cloud monitoring tool.

No matter how you journey to the cloud security always should be a focus. Private clouds have more manageable security challenges since they exist behind the firewall. Still, pay close attention to security and governance.

 As IDC points out, private clouds present an opportunity to accelerate the shift to a more automated, self-service form of computing. This not only enables organizations to reduce costs and boost IT utilization but to better match provisioning IT resources with the speed at which businesses need to move these days. Nobody can wait months for the IT resources needed to support a new business initiative anymore.

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Virtualization changes the economics of IT

To most business managers the IT function is a cost center to be minimized. Gartner Data Center conference attendees in December, reportedly, overflowed a session on reducing data center costs. An audience poll at the session, however, showed that about 20% of the audience had no IT cost accounting in place at all, and over half the attendees were basically flying blind on their IT budgets. They had, in effect, no way to control IT costs.

With personnel making up about 38% of IT costs the surest way to cut IT expenses is to cut people, Gartner noted. Another suggestion: buy cheaper IT hardware.

Inna Kuznetsova, Vice President, IBM Systems Software, in a recent analyst briefing, suggests there is a different way to change the economics of IT. The key: virtualization. Even basic virtualization using x86-based servers can deliver 8:1 server consolidation, which can save $600 per server in energy costs alone. Virtualizing on IBM’s eX5 x86-based servers can get you 78% more virtual machines for the same license cost, the company reports.

The rapid digital transformation of the global economy is putting IT infrastructures at companies everywhere under great pressure.  From 2007 to this year, digital data is projected to grow by a factor of 10. Compounding that challenge is the growth of unstructured data, which will make up 80% of the digital data growth and is one factor fueling interest in the advanced analytics, which is needed to make sense of that kind of data.

The scale of this digital transformation is astounding.  Six TB of information is exchanged over the Internet every second! The number of devices connected to the Internet by the end of this year will reach 1012. Driving this is the emergence of the Internet of Things, which BottomlineIT previously covered here.

Certainly shrinking the IT technology footprint through consolidation and reducing IT staff remain key to lowering costs, but technology virtualization, noted Kuznetsova, is the best way to get there. By 2013, she reports that 69% of all server workloads will be virtualized.

Kuznetsova sees a four-step journey to new, improved IT economics through virtualization:

  1. Start with server virtualization but extend it to storage and networks, which also can be virtualized and consolidated. Through IT resource virtualization organizations can boost efficiency and increase the utilization of IT, which boosts ROI.
  2. Manage workloads to further improve staff productivity or reduce staff. This will require integrated systems management tools that enable you to increase server, storage, and network resource-to-staff ratios.  Where it took one storage admin to manage 10 TB of storage, that admin could now handle 100 TB or more through a virtualized IT infrastructure.
  3. Deploy automation to achieve consistent and repeatable processes.  This not only further reduces staffing requirements but enables IT to consistently meet business service levels.
  4. Optimize IT delivery to enable business agility. Ideally this will take the form of user self-provisioning.  Self-provisioning is feasible due to the flexibility of virtualized IT resources, which are not constrained by physical barriers or location. A business manager, for example, can use easy templates to self-provision a new server in minutes to support a new business initiative.

Of course, IBM offers tools, like IBM Systems Director or Tivoli, to assist at every step in this virtualization journey. Other vendors are heading there too, including HP, EMC, Oracle/Sun, and others.

Virtualization lies at the core of cloud computing. A progression through Kuznetsova’s virtualization-driven steps invariably leads you to the cloud. At that point you decide how much cloud is right for your organization.

 

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