Smarter and Smarter Clouds: IBM Enhances and
Extends Private Cloud Monitoring Capabilities

Getting highest ROI from a cloud means understanding exactly what's happening inside it and optimizing using capacity analytics

Tivoli Beat. A weekly IBM service management perspective.

Cloud computing continues to attract business and IT leaders—but realizing the full promise of the cloud is often seen as more difficult than it should be.

Partly, this is due to the dynamic nature of clouds. In an IT architecture that is driven at a deep level not by manual IT oversight, but instead by business policies and virtualization, achieving full visibility into how things are changing is not a trivial matter. Perhaps new virtual servers are created on demand, and storage is allocated fluidly where required... but how well does that really translate into the cost-efficient fulfillment of business workloads?

In the end, it's the business value generated by the cloud that matters most—not the technical means by which that happens. So what an organization really requires, to generate the highest ROI from a cloud, is continual, accurate visibility into how well the cloud is achieving business goals, as well as the granular, detailed information needed to remediate any technical issues that may arise.

IBM SmartCloud Monitoring 7.2 supports heterogeneous virtualization environments

Instead of being locked into any particular computational system, or hypervisor, the organization can choose whichever combinations it deems best for its own needs. It can also consolidate more total systems into the cloud, managing them as a single logical entity instead of separately.

It was with exactly this premise in mind that IBM Tivoli originally introduced IBM SmartCloud Monitoring—a foundational cloud monitoring solution designed to deliver exactly the necessary visibility into cloud dynamics, and correlate that with business goals.

And now this offering has been augmented and expanded to provide not just more insight, applicable in more ways, but also across more platforms—empowering IT to manage a wider variety of hardware and virtualization environments with a single tool.

The effect? Instead of being locked into a single hypervisor, the organization can choose whichever combination of hypervisors it deems best for its own needs. It can also consolidate more workloads into the cloud, managing them as a single logical entity instead of separately based on hypervisor platform (which would lead to a slower and less agile response to changing requirements).

And over time, as the fundamental elements of hardware and hypervisors may change, IBM SmartCloud Monitoring will continue to support the evolving cloud at every stage along the way—providing a continuing management layer that abstracts out the technical details and keeps focus on how well the infrastructure is supporting business performance.

Smart capacity planning helps optimize the cloud

Need a specific example? Consider capacity planning—a key requirement for any virtualized IT architecture, including a cloud, to be successful. If the ultimate goal is to fulfill business workloads efficiently, then clearly the cloud must have the resources to scale up on demand. Yet overallocation of critical resources, just to address rare peak periods of demand, means excessive costs, and is thus almost as undesirable as underallocation that fails to meet business goals.

For this reason, the capacity planning capabilities in IBM SmartCloud Monitoring v. 7.2 have been significantly augmented in both nature and scope. For example, if the cloud is based on (or contains as an element) IBM Power Systems platforms, SmartCloud Monitoring now has capacity planning driven by advanced analytics. Using the results, IT administrators can make smarter decisions—planning better through more accurate forecasting.

For example: is it possible to add more workloads of a certain type to the cloud, and if so, what will the expected performance be for them, and for the current workloads? The new advanced analytics can deliver swift, accurate answers to questions of just this type—ensuring that any new expenditures are always justified, and in some cases avoiding those expenditures altogether by making smarter use of the currently available resources.

Similar enhancements are evident in capacity analytics for x86-based VMware environments (a completely different platform from both hardware and software standpoints). Thanks to the solution's configurable new reports, cloud providers can better understand how resources are being used, where they are expected to be used in the future, and what the correlation of technical data is to business strategies—yielding smart recommendations that can keep data center costs under control better than ever.

And if capacity analytics support for IBM's PowerVM and VMware environments weren't enough, IBM SmartCloud Monitoring goes the extra mile in providing monitoring and management for a number of additional virtualization environments: Linux KVM, CitrixXenServer, and Citrix XenDesktop Shop.

This means that the choice of virtualization environments is almost irrelevant to the organization, which can simply use whichever it finds most suitable—or any combination of them, for different hardware platforms or workload requirements—yet manage them in the same centralized way regardless. This strength—unified capacity planning and monitoring, delivered across this remarkable range of hypervisors and hardware platforms—is unmatched by any competitive offering in cloud monitoring.

Effortless insight into cloud health and compelling, cross-solution integration capabilities

Also improved: the solution's intuitive ease of use. IBM SmartCloud Monitoring now has a Web-based interface that provides quick, holistic insight into the cloud's overall performance and utilization. This interface aggregates information drawn from both physical and virtual resources—not just the cloud's underlying computational hardware, including memory and processors and storage, but also virtual elements such as all virtual servers and whether they are up and running (or stalled and leading to reduced workload performance). And, if a problem does exist, the solution empowers IT administrators to drill down to whatever level of detail is required, driving a fast resolution of the problem and minimizing its total business impact.

IBM has also integrated SmartCloud Monitoring with a number of other solutions from across the extensive IBM portfolio, both inside and outside Tivoli per se; together, these integrations deliver an impressive range of new business benefits, making the IBM offering even more attractive.

For instance, going beyond the solution's own analytics capabilities, even more sophisticated analysis can now be performed by IBM Cognos business intelligence solutions. Via the new integration, Cognos tools can deliver quantified insight into cloud optimization, forecasting, accounting, scenario analysis, and total cost of ownership—all of which help the organization maximize cloud ROI over time.

And IBM SmartCloud Monitoring is also now part of the rapidly expanding IBM Jazz for Service Management ecosystem, which provides a shared set of integration services to allow data to migrate among solutions to create new value. In particular, the health metrics IBM SmartCloud Monitoring continually generates can now be routed into other Jazz-compatible IBM Tivoli solutions, and used by them in new ways, all toward the larger goal of ensuring that service management, in a holistic sense, is as good as it can possibly be.

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