Moving from virtualization to a private cloud
The transformative power of private clouds is becoming clearer and clearer every day—and going forward, IBM's SmartCloud portfolio offers an exceptionally fast and straightforward way to realize it.
The logic behind the shift to cloud is clear: superior resource allocation, smarter and dramatically faster process execution, and as a result, a more cost-effective and agile IT infrastructure. Instead of IT teams having to purchase, configure, and integrate physical servers, virtual servers are created and managed by the cloud over time automatically, in accordance with predefined business policies.
And if the cloud is private, its full power is solely available to the organization that owns it—not shared among an indefinite number of external organizations, as with public clouds. Such an architecture simply creates more business value with less time, effort, and money than traditional alternatives—a smarter and more optimized IT service delivery platform by almost any definition.
That's why many organizations—that have virtualized and consolidated the IT infrastructure to some degree already, via leading virtualization environments such as VMware—are increasingly taking the next logical step: transforming it into a private cloud.
Getting the best results from such a transformation, however, will typically mean thinking carefully about the kinds of capabilities needed. Beyond basic functionality like virtual server creation and provisioning, private clouds will require more advanced capabilities in areas such as asset monitoring, security, application management, and service orchestration.
Get the cloud you want—tailored to your needs
For organizations that have already deployed VMware, IBM SmartCloud solutions provide a clear, logical path to an optimized cloud future. They offer the following strengths:
"Virtually any organization looking to transform its current investment in VMware on x86 into a private cloud will find IBM SmartCloud offerings a perfect match. Not only can an efficient, cost-efficient, and secure cloud be created in short order, it can be expanded over time as needed—however the organization requires over time."
This is why virtually any organization looking to transform its current investment in VMware on x86 into a private cloud will find IBM SmartCloud offerings a perfect match. Not only can an efficient, cost-effective, and secure cloud be created in short order, it can be expanded over time as needed—however the organization requires over time.
Build the cloud in logical layers
Centralize the VMware image library and provision images to VMware virtual servers
To understand how such a process might take place, let's consider various SmartCloud solutions in the context of a basic VMware deployment.
An essential first step, in moving from a virtualized infrastructure to a cloud, involves cataloging the existing virtual images and then utilizing that library to provision newly created virtual servers. Toward this end, IBM SmartCloud Provisioning is an ideal solution. It includes advanced analytics capable of looking inside the images that already exist in the VMware architecture, determining where duplicates occur, or where potential vulnerabilities exist and allowing all unique images to be combined into a unified repository.
Subsequently, this solution can provision those images to any new virtual servers created in the VMware infrastructure on demand, based on business policies. Should a new server be required, perhaps to provide higher performance for an in-demand service, VMware first creates the server, and then IBM SmartCloud Provisioning populates it with logical contents (operating system, middleware, applications, and other necessary resources). And it does so with astonishing speed—tens of thousands of new virtual servers per day, if required. Finally, its analytics are also helpful in assessing virtual servers in order to determine which need updating, often to remove a vulnerability—then provisioning the appropriate updates, ensuring the cloud constantly measures up to technical specifications.
Maximize the business value of cloud storage
While IT professionals think primarily in terms of servers when they talk about virtualization, storage is equally important—a critical resource required by every service and application running in a cloud. Allocating storage optimally, where and when it's required, is an essential function if a cloud is to provide the intended value and keep operating costs down.
In that department, IBM SmartCloud Virtual Storage Center is directly on point. This offering logically integrates storage, creating a centralized pool of it, which can be assigned to any service based on that service's changing requirements. Because it supports multiple vendors’ offerings, it will integrate seamlessly with almost any current set of disk arrays or other storage solutions. And because it provides an extensive range of capabilities into how that storage is being utilized—from hot-spot analysis to self-service provisioning to disaster recovery—it also helps ensure that the cloud gets the best possible value from storage over time.
Track the health of cloud assets through ongoing monitoring
Interested in a quick, accurate assessment of the private cloud's status? IBM SmartCloud Monitoring delivers, via an intuitive, Web-based display of how cloud assets and resources are performing as measured against target levels. If performance falls below a threshold, IT managers are empowered with the information they need to solve the underlying technical problem in short order—or in some cases, predict it, and prevent it from happening at all. Additional power stems from smart analytics that help determine how best to route workloads through the cloud while minimizing performance risk, and what-if evaluations, in areas like energy usage, that help optimize the cloud's specific configuration.
Lock down cloud-based VMware servers against threats
While cloud architectures are hot, some concerns remain in the area of security—even for private clouds, that are privately utilized. Often these arise from the fact that with a deeply automated, highly centralized architecture, security breaches could, in theory, expand in scope due to the idea that in a unified cloud, diminished barriers stand in the way of a breach's progress.
IBM Virtual Server Protection for VMware addresses exactly these concerns. Thanks to smart rootkit detection, integrated firewalls, and intrusion prevention features, it can identify and quarantine malware with remarkable accuracy and speed. This design helps to isolate malware from spreading, thus minimizing its potential business impact. Security auditing is also included, in order to help the organization continually stay apprised of cloud security and informing it when security expectations aren't being met.
Sophisticated capabilities increase the cloud's power still further
Manage and analyze cloud-based applications
Given a powerful, secure cloud foundation, the question becomes: How well is the cloud really supporting applications as they carry out critical business tasks?
IBM SmartCloud Application Performance Management gives organizations clear answers to that question via five different classes of application-specific insights: discovery, the end user experience, transaction tracing, diagnostics, and analytics. Together, these capabilities help ensure that when application slowdowns do occur, the time-to-resolution is as small as possible... ideally, so small that users won't even notice a slowdown existed.
Orchestrate complex services via deep, policy-driven automation
Intuitively, it makes sense that automation should be a more powerful idea in a cloud; a cloud, after all, is supposed to be a smarter service delivery platform—one that does more, with less human oversight, and at lower costs, than any other platform available today.
One particularly compelling example of this principle: What if line-of-business managers could request new services from a cloud directly—instead of having to request them indirectly through IT? Such an approach would translate into a clearer relationship between an IT service and its business significance than ever before, while also freeing IT team members for other, more complex tasks of a higher priority.
To make this compelling vision a reality, however, demands that the cloud's underlying capabilities and functions be orchestrated appropriately. To wit, those line-of-business managers will need a self-service portal, through which to request new services, and the cloud will also have to be smart enough to combine and integrate its capabilities to support whatever service it is that has been requested.
That's the basic premise of IBM SmartCloud Orchestrator. Its intuitive portal serves as the front end for non-IT employees, essentially allowing them to dial up the new service that will best suit their needs... and subsequently the cloud does the rest, creating and managing that service over its full lifecycle from cradle to grave, including key tasks like securing the service, allocating resources to it dynamically, and tracking its performance.
Another outstanding way to leverage a private cloud for even more value: Use it to fulfill everyday IT tasks that currently demand their own infrastructure, such as technical troubleshooting and change management. IBM SmartCloud Control Desk accomplishes exactly that, delivering both a traditional ticket-based service desk and a service catalog for users to get the help they need when they run into trouble. Smart change management capabilities, that help IT understand and govern how modifications are executed in the technical infrastructure, round out this offering.
Unify different virtual environments—even across hypervisors
Finally, while all of these capabilities apply to a virtualized, VMware-driven infrastructure, it's important to understand that SmartCloud solutions actually support other, completely different hypervisors as well—such Xen, KVM, and Microsoft's Hyper-V—in exactly the same ways.
This extra range of choices means that SmartCloud makes it exceptionally easy for organizations to integrate currently separate virtualized environments into one cloud. They can then manage the cloud over time in a consistent way, using a single set of management tools and capabilities, despite its underlying, heterogeneous nature.