Pulse 2013: A Bonanza of Cloud Announcements
Even in the swiftly evolving world of IT and service delivery, few subjects have developed as swiftly as cloud. And IBM has not only kept pace, but is continuing to lead the industry.
Today, for instance, IBM's vision is that clouds should be far more than simply engines for creating and spinning up new virtual servers and allocating resources such as processing power and storage. They should be embedded with analytical intelligence at a deep level, to govern how they accomplish such tasks, ensuring it happens in a manner that reflects best practices and takes advantage of proven patterns of successful deployment.
They should do more than scale to changes in demand levels; they should be able to predict such changes, and empower organizations with the insight needed to avoid performance shortfalls from happening in the first place. And they should respond to the many new security and compliance complexities implied by a cloud architecture with next-generation security intelligence designed for cloud from the start.
Together, these new offerings render IBM's vision as an operational reality—a reality that is now available to any organization interested in receiving the benefits.
A variety of compelling IBM SmartCloud announcements span monitoring, control desk, and service orchestration domains
"Smart workload analytics, currently in open beta, provide indexing and searching for both structured and unstructured log data, including text analytics to evaluate log structure automatically. The results can in turn be easily understood with help from "insight packs" that include expert advice about specific domains and common performance issues."
The smart capacity planning is directly on point for any organization that is concerned not just with current cloud performance, but future cloud performance. It delivers insight into how conditions are changing, what kinds of trends are emerging, and how well (or how badly) the cloud can reasonably be expected to support those conditions and trends. Given this insight, IT can then take such steps as are needed to requisition more resources for the cloud, such as processing power and memory... or, if possible, simply make smarter, more efficient use of the resources that are already there. In a case where resources are currently overprovisioned to a service that turns out not to need them, perhaps a simple policy change could free those resources to a service that turns out to need more than originally anticipated.
Want the freedom to switch hypervisors, or use multiple hypervisors? SmartCloud Monitoring delivers, by supporting hypervisors from VMware, KVM, IBM PowerVM, and a variety of others.
Smart workload analytics, currently in open beta, provide indexing and searching for both structured and unstructured log data, including text analytics to evaluate log structure automatically. The results can in turn be easily understood with help from "insight packs" that include expert advice about specific domains and common performance issues.
The new application dashboard helps by rendering at-a-glance knowledge of how applications are living up to business goals, well suited even for managers with limited knowledge of, or interest in, the underlying technical specifics. The dashboard is also easy to customize to suit changing circumstances or goals, or to reflect only the metrics that apply to a particular job role or business strategy—giving managers only the information they need, not the information they don't.
And because the solution architecture supports multiple tenants, it's a perfect fit for cloud providers, too—and it can scale dynamically in proportion to match actual utilization, so as the provider's user base grows, so too will grow the monitoring capabilities. For both private organizations and cloud providers, installation couldn't be faster—it takes only minutes, and requires no changes in the existing infrastructure or configuration of any kind, thanks to auto-discovery capabilities.
SmartCloud Control Desk is also now integrated with IBM Endpoint Manager. If a smart mobile device needs an app, the user can request a license for that app via SmartCloud Control Desk; IBM Endpoint Manager will then provision the app to the device. This is a new way to take advantage of the enterprise app store that can be created using Endpoint Manager for Mobile Devices—a key to improved license compliance.
The new map integration feature provides impact analysis and a way to view events on a topology view. This gives clients the ability to analyze whether incidents are occurring in a particular geographical area, as well as manage change with minimum impact.
Process Content Packs are now available for SmartCloud Control Desk. These packs are built on a solid foundation of ITIL standards and real-world customer experiences. They are provided at no cost, pre-configured with automated processes, start centers, and configuration data which allow a client to input their unique, self identifying data, then start using IBM SmartCloud Control Desk in production to support the operations defined by the package content.
The offering is available via multiple delivery models—traditional on-premise, as a Virtual Machine image, or through a Software-as-Service model. Organizations can choose the model that fits their needs best, then switch at another as those needs evolve.
Key functions—provisioning, monitoring, capacity management, metering, and chargeback are not only automated, but integrated, delivering key information across them to ensure each takes the others into account (for example: provisioning policies can take into account the expected costs).
This offering is also part of IBM's larger vision of integrated development and operations. It uses OSLC technology to not only optimize the way applications are managed at every stage, from initial development to final retirement, but do so as automatically as possible.
Superior cloud security, unified virtual/physical device management, and storage/backup functions
Also at Pulse, IBM announced a broad range of security intelligence enhancements spanning all cloud delivery models (public, private, and hybrid). These run the gamut of security domains, from identity protection in accessing cloud-based services to data and application protection of several kinds, to threat protection—now smart enough to prevent advanced threats via multiple layers and analytics-driven intrusion monitoring.
IBM Endpoint Manager has also been updated in ways that are directly on point for cloud services. For instance, security is improved because multi-tier applications can now automatically be patched, and offline virtual machines can be patched before they come online—reducing the potential window for a breach to zero. And analytics for software license usage help keep organizations in compliance with federal copyright law, despite the fact that new software instances are continually being deployed in a cloud.
Finally, cloud-agile storage and backup offerings were also announced—helping organizations get the best possible ROI from this key resource. IBM SmartCloud Storage Access provides automatic file storage provisioning and integrated monitoring, reporting, and approval control—all via an intuitive self-service portal. And IBM Tivoli Storage Manager Ops Center, an open beta, offers intuitive root cause analysis, integrated alert routing, and mobile-enabled backups and backup monitoring—anywhere you go, from any device.
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