IBM SmartCloud Foundation: Building a Better

IBM SmartCloud Foundation: Building a Better Cloud

SERVICE MANAGEMENT IN ACTION It's becoming clearer and clearer that cloud computing represents a central solution to some of today's most pressing IT challenges. And IBM is stepping up its cloud game as a result—making clouds much easier, faster, and less costly to deploy and manage.

With IBM's recently released IBM SmartCloud Foundation, enabled in large part by underlying Tivoli technology, organizations can:

That's got to sound like a winning package for most organizations’ IT leaders, who find themselves dealing with overwhelming IT challenges, while trying to keep pace with growing business demands.

Take for example scalability—how can you put the infrastructure in place to scale up for demand, and avoid wasting precious resources like storage or processing power, if you don't know yet what that demand will be? Driving up total performance, similarly, can be difficult in conventional IT architectures, where asset performance might be tracked and monitored in specific domains, but overall service assurance often isn't even measured (let alone maximized). And availability—keeping core services up and running despite fluctuating conditions—is no simple trick either, particularly when you consider the ever-increasing legion of security threats coming from both inside and outside the organization.

It was with exactly these challenges in mind that the IBM SmartCloud Foundation was developed.

With the help of IBM SmartCloud Foundation, business leaders can now create and deliver both infrastructure-as-a-service and platform-as-a-service cloud environments. And they can do so in a way that includes end-to-end service assurance, the full power of automation, and IBM's industry-leading security capabilities to optimize those environments—whether the cloud is public, private, or hybrid in design.

Cloud administration and automation: Look, ma, no hands

“IBM's advanced provisioning capabilities also spell a huge win when it comes to total performance. The IBM SmartCloud Foundation can, in less than one minute, provision hundreds of virtual machines in parallel, despite the fact that the images may vary in each case and even the virtualization environment itself may change.”

One of the great strengths of cloud computing lies in the way it can provide hands-off, resource-optimized service delivery—at least in promise. The bright prospect of being able to deliver and manage whole IT services with little to no manual attention or oversight from IT staff, who are then free to attend to more complex tasks, is a large part of what has attracted organizations to cloud in the first place.

Making that vision a reality, though, usually involves a long transition from conventional architectures. Even if your organization has already undergone a significant virtualization and consolidation process, how do you move from that stage to a truly automated cloud service delivery?

IBM SmartCloud Foundation is designed to answer that question in a remarkably efficient way. If you've virtualized using IBM systems, you'll find that shifting from that to automated cloud service delivery can now be accomplished with amazing speed.

How amazing? Try this on for size: three days or less in many cases.

And once the cloud is up and running, IBM SmartCloud Foundation also includes many powerful features and functions to simplify administering it—driving down many forms of cost and risk, and offering an accelerated overall application infrastructure.

Application deployment time, for instance, will fall tremendously. While cases will naturally vary from scenario to scenario, some clients have achieved rollout times that are as much as 35 times faster than before.

Image management is also vastly improved. Because clouds continually create and provision new virtual servers based on business policies, using a library of images, it's important to ensure that the library is managed as efficiently as possible. That's why IBM SmartCloud Foundation includes new capabilities of image management such as image patching and analytics. These make it easier than ever to track and modify images, make sure the right ones are provisioned in any given case, and reduce the total number of them when possible.

Reduced administrative and labor costs are often cited as a particularly dominant advantage of clouds because clouds require much less oversight from IT staff than conventional architectures. And that's certainly the case with IBM SmartCloud Foundation.

From the new image management capabilities, for instance, stems a precipitous 80% drop in admin overhead, because each admin is personally responsible for far fewer images. Meanwhile, regulation compliance gets easier, too, because the cloud's consistent policies drive the provisioning process—eliminating the chance of an inadvertent manual error that could lead to a compliance violation.

IBM's advanced provisioning capabilities also spell a huge win when it comes to total performance. The IBM SmartCloud Foundation can, in less than one minute, provision hundreds of virtual machines in parallel, despite the fact that the images may vary in each case and even the virtualization environment itself may change.

And that super-swift creation of new virtual machines translates directly into a huge improvement in business agility—one quantifiably superior to any offering from any other cloud provider.

Service assurance: Ensure the user experience is what it should be

IT managers looking to verify that clouds are really hitting performance targets will be glad to hear that IBM has made that easier than ever. IBM SmartCloud Foundation empowers them with insight into multiple logical layers of the cloud—physical, storage, and network, as well as across multiple hypervisor platforms.

That information, in turn, is fed to analytics tools that can sift through it looking for key insight—such as what kind of total experience customers are getting from services, where best to deliver a given workload that might be peaking, or what kind of new capacity will be required to meet demand in the next quarter.

The results? Faster detection and resolution of technical problems. The power to anticipate performance bottlenecks before they happen—and proactively eliminate them. And higher availability, customer satisfaction, and user productivity from services, whether external or internal.

Security: Batten down the hatches

IBM has also baked a diverse range of security capabilities into IBM SmartCloud Foundation to help address one of the most important concerns about clouds today: that they might compromise sensitive data via the shared architecture.

Among other key capabilities, customers gain:

Updated over time

Finally, this first iteration of IBM SmartCloud Foundation, though impressive, is itself only a start. Over time, IBM will add new capabilities and strengths that reflect demand and changing business challenges—making the IBM SmartCloud Foundation not just smart, but increasingly smart, in all the ways IBM customers need the most.

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