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Find your silver lining in cloud adoption patterns

Mary Forlenza, Austin, Texas
Editor of the Smart SOA & BPM Newsletter

As demands on computing systems increase with changing expectations of customers and explosive growth in digital data, IT is being drawn to the cloud computing delivery model to help lower costs, increase efficiency, and deliver services more rapidly. Responses to the IBM 2011 Global CIO Study showed that 60 percent of CIO’s plan to use cloud, up from 33 percent two years ago. At the same time, business executives are being drawn to cloud for its simplified, self-service experience and immediate access to new capabilities for building additional revenue streams.

While there are many ways to exploit cloud computing, organizations benefit most quickly by consuming capabilities on an established cloud, creating a cloud infrastructure inside the organization, or integrating across clouds. To gain near-term benefits while gradually adopting cloud, it can help to understand how other companies are getting started with cloud today. Through thousands of cloud engagements, IBM has discovered common adoption patterns for successfully initiating and expanding cloud computing projects. The four most common pathways for deploying cloud solutions are described as follows:

For each of these patterns of cloud adoption, IBM has defined a set of proven projects that it supports with software, services and solutions to help businesses streamline the implementation of their chosen cloud capabilities. To understand the patterns and projects better, let’s look in more detail at one of the four patterns: Cloud Platform Services.

Rapidly build, deploy and manage workloads

A cloud platform is an integrated stack of middleware that is optimized to execute and manage different workloads, for example, batch, business process management and analytics. This middleware stack standardizes and automates a common set of topologies and workloads, providing businesses with elasticity, efficiency and automated workload management. A cloud platform dynamically adjusts workload and infrastructure characteristics to meet business priorities and service level agreements.

The Cloud Platform Services adoption pattern can improve developer productivity by eliminating the need to work at the image level so that developers can instead concentrate on application development. IT teams can reduce software design steps and use predefined workload patterns to get solutions to market faster, while supporting business requirements by using policies to manage service levels and service quality.

Company revamps its server environment for more savings and revenue

A major financial services company achieved these kinds of benefits as it consolidated its application and IBM WebSphere® middleware environment of 500 servers across two data centers with 48 blade servers virtualized with VMware. The company needed to be able to respond to its customers by quickly and efficiently building temporary development environments for the holiday sales seasons and taking them down when they were no longer needed. The company also wanted to be able to recreate in one data center its six security zones with complex firewall rules without spending significant man hours on the project.

To accomplish its goals, the company selected Haddon Hill Group (HHG), an IBM Business Partner based in Oakland, California. As it rolled out the new environment, HHG used WebSphere CloudBurst® Appliance to manage provisioning and keep servers tuned with the right configuration. CloudBurst Appliance could roll out and roll back temporary environments to meet special needs, enabling the company to increase revenue significantly during peak sales seasons.

CloudBurst Appliance was used to dispense WebSphere product images in minutes with the right settings, and manage configurations with much less effort. Some of the benefits are reduced cost of maintenance, in addition to service and licensing expenses, and reduced cycle time and error rate. “All the steps that took up so much time and effort on the part of IT staff have been removed,” said Phil Schaadt, president and CTO of Haddon Hill Group. “The savings for companies with large WebSphere implementations can be in the millions.”

Start with a proven project

Businesses can select from several defined, proven projects to get started implementing a Cloud Platform Services solution. The best entry point will depend on the unique needs of each organization. For instance, one company may need a more flexible middleware infrastructure to respond better to spikes in demand, while another might want to reduce the number of bugs caused by inconsistent configurations. Perhaps the lead time to get a new application environment up and running, typically averaging 4 to 6 weeks, needs to be shortened. Or a fragile infrastructure may be causing service interruptions that impact business results. There are many projects an organization can take on to help resolve these kinds of issues. Currently, companies can choose from among these proven projects under the Cloud Platform Services pattern:

Cloud Platform Services is just one of four adoption patterns from IBM, each with defined projects supported by IBM solutions and services, that can give a business a head start at successfully implementing its cloud computing strategy.

As part of its smarter planet initiative, IBM helps leading companies, including 80 percent of the Fortune 500, use cloud capabilities to go beyond improving efficiency and cost-effectiveness to transforming business models and capturing new business value. For more information visit the IBM SmartCloud web site.