(For more resources related to this topic, see here.)
This article zooms out to the level of abstraction to take a little peak into the future by discussing platform services on top of IBM® SmartCloud® Enterprise, acquisitions, and other valuable sources of information.
With IBM® SmartCloud® Enterprise, you gain access to both infrastructure services (IaaS) and platform services (PaaS), all in one cloud solution. The platform services, available through the SCE management console under Service Instances, are all bundled under the name of IBM SmartCloud Application Services.
Although we cannot fully predict the future, there are some valuable sources of information that I want to share with you so you can stay updated on the latest changes and announcements for future developments. Second, there are some patterns and trends that allow us to look into our crystal ball.
IBM® SmartCloud® Application Services
IBM® SmartCloud® Application Services, the platform services layer on top of IBM ® SmartCloud® Enterprise, was introduced in December 2012. It delivers a collaborative, cloud-based environment that supports the full lifecycle of accelerated application development, deployment, and delivery. It provides two separate—but complementary—services: Collaborative Lifecycle Management Service and IBM® SmartCloud® Application Workload Service:
- Collaborative Lifecycle Management Service(CLMS) is a set of seamlessly integrated Rational® tools which provides a real-time cloud-based collaborative environment for accelerated application development and delivery as a platform service. It is designed to help coordinate software development activities throughout the lifecycle of an application, from requirements tracking through design, implementation, build, test, deployment, and maintenance.
- IBM® SmartCloud® Application Workload Service (SCAWS) allows us to use design patterns. A pattern consists of proven best practices and expertise for complex system tasks that have been captured, lab-tested, and optimized into a deployable form. These patterns can be very powerful because they can include policy-based automated scaling and easy duplication between IBM public and private cloud environments.
The IBM SmartCloud® Enterprise Monthly Cost Estimator, supports all IBM® SmartCloud® Application Services prices and content. To learn more on its features and how get started on running your first service instances:
Improving software delivery with DevOps
To support DevOps, collaborative tools are needed to support the agile service delivery approach, hence accelerating application deployment from weeks to minutes. When we combine the functionality offered by CLMS and SCAWS together, this is exactly what we get. We get one integrated DevOps solution that promotes communication, collaboration, and integration between software developers and IT operations to more rapidly produce quality software products and services.
The name DevOps is derived from a combination of the two words development and operations. DevOps is more than a new development methodology like agile software development; it's about communication and collaboration between boththe two earlier stated stakeholders and the business. It is mainly targeted at product delivery, quality testing, feature development, and maintenance releases in order to improve reliability, security, and faster development and deployment cycles.
Download this complementary e-book to gain a better understanding of DevOps and learn how it can improve the IT processes in your organization:
Valuable sources of information
IBM® SmartCloud® Enterprise and Application Services
Staying up-to-date with the latest IBM® SmartCloud® Enterprise (and Application Services) developments and announcements is vital for knowing what you can expect in the near future. The three most important sources of information are:
- The SCE management console, specifically on the Support page, where many resources are directly available or just one click away in the Documentation Library, Video Library, and Asset Catalog.
- The developerWorks® website, the IBM technical resource and professional network for the developer and IT professional, offers great in-depth articles on many of the capabilities that IBM® SmartCloud® Enterprise has. It can be accessed at www.ibm.com/developerworks.
- The Thoughts on Cloud blog is also a great place to see what's happening and what can be done with IBM and IBM Business Partner solutions. As with the developerWorks website, the information provided here covers more about IBM® SmartCloud® Enterprise, which gives us a broader perspective on what's happening with IBM and cloud computing. It is available at thoughtsoncloud.com.
There is also IBM SmartCloud Enterprise newsletter containing a wealth of information on new features, use-cases, and other news. You can subscribe to these, and more, newsletters via the IBM eNewsletter Subscription Services webpage.
Then there is the IBM SmartCloud Enterprise Developers Group. This is a technical community composed of individuals interested in the application programming interfaces (APIs) of IBM® SmartCloud® Enterprise. The group includes IBMers and non-IBMers and covers how the APIs can be used to automate processes and build solutions that integrate with IBM® SmartCloud® Enterprise. It is available at www.ibm.com/developerworks/community/blogs/iaas_cloud.
IBM Innovation Center events
Additionally there are the IBM Innovation Center events, which offer a wide range of no-charge workshops, seminars, and briefings conducted by highly trained subject matter experts. These events help you build technical skills, learn how to market and sell more effectively with IBM, and connect with Business Partners. Some of the virtual events focus on the new possibilities of IBM® SmartCloud® solutions, and are complementary.
Global Technology Outlook
The Global Technology Outlook (GTO) is IBM Research's vision of the future for information technology (IT) and its implications on industries.
This annual exercise highlights emerging software, hardware, and services technology trends that are expected to significantly impact the IT sector in the next 3-10 years. The research document can be downloaded from www.zurich.ibm.com/pdf/isl/infoportal/Global_Technology_Outlook_2013.pdf.
IBM Academy of Technology
Lastly there is the IBM Academy of Technology (AoT) which, as the name suggests, consists of almost one thousand of IBM's technical leaders.
The academy develops a rich technical agenda each year which consists of studies, conferences, and consultancies. More importantly, the academy also produces a series of TechNotes which explore various areas of current and emerging technology. The TechNotes can be found at www-03.ibm.com/ibm/academy/technotes/technotes.shtml.
A glimpse into our crystal ball
When looking at the version history of IBM® SmartCloud® we can clearly see a pattern of delivering major releases twice a year, more specifically in May and December. Since the May 2013 release has just been announced and implemented—at the time of writing—it can be expected that the next major release will be announced and implemented in December 2013.
In terms of functionality, let's look at what announcements there have been on the IBM® SmartCloud® strategy and which trends there are in the marketplace.
Platform as a service is clearly expanding the range of options you have from the cloud. We can see these IBM products and service developments; just look at the landing page of IBM for platform services— www.ibm.com/cloud-computing/us/en/paas.html—but also on almost all other major cloud service providers.
Specifically, we want to mention the platform services—IBM® SmartCloud® Application Services and IBM® SmartCloud® for SAP Applications—that IBM is building on top of the infrastructure services—IBM® SmartCloud® Enterprise and IBM® SmartCloud® Enterprise+. It can be expected that the range of platform services will grow over the years, expanding the possibilities that you have of getting managed and hosted middleware services right from the box (as a service).
Open cloud standards
Commitment to open standards has been a long running focus for IBM, which has become even more visible with the March 2013 announcement that IBM cloud software and services will be based on open standards. This move will ensure that innovation in cloud computing is not hampered by locking businesses into proprietary islands of insecure and difficult-to-manage offerings.
As the first step, IBM will base a new private cloud solution—part of the IBM® SmartCloud® Foundation portfolio segment—on the open sourced OpenStack® software. This will allow organizations to build a private cloud without the fear of being locked in, as well as allowing easier integration with public cloud solutions. It can be expected that this will surely resonate in further IBM® SmartCloud® Enterprise developments as well.
Apart from the infrastructure focused OpenStack standard, IBM is also working on platform focused standards such as OASIS® TOSCA and data interface standards such as W3C Linked Data. Not to forget the standardization bodies such as The Open Group® and user groups such as Cloud Standards Customer Council (CSCC) and Cloud Computing Use Case Discussion Group.
Find an overview of the all open cloud standards and links to each open standard individually can be found at www.ibm.com/cloud-computing/us/en/open-standards.html and a more in-depth view on the more technical open standards at www.ibm.com/developerworks/cloud/library/cl-open-architecture.
SoftLayer Technologies Inc.
On July 8th, IBM announced that it completed the acquisition of Softlayer Technologies Inc. (Softlayer), which joins IBM's new cloud services division and will be combined with IBM® SmartCloud® into a global platform. As quoted from the press release, found at www-03.ibm.com/press/us/en/pressrelease/41430.wss you can read the potency of the acquisition:
"SoftLayer will enable IBM to deliver an industry first: marrying the security, privacy and reliability of private clouds with the economy and speed of a public cloud. SoftLayer offers a breakthrough capability that provides a cloud "on ramp" for born-on-the-web companies, government, and the Fortune 500."
An interesting, analyst, view on the Softlayer acquisition and the growth potential for the IBM® SmartCloud® portfolio can be viewed in the video at www.youtube.com/watch?v=a3uscmcQVTI
Hybrid cloud, combining both public and private cloud services into a solution, looks like the most powerful delivery form for the years to come. Powerful in the sense that you get to choose from the mix of characteristics that both private and public cloud solutions offer. To underline the trend, many analysts believe that 2013 will be the year that hybrid cloud implementations will truly get traction.
With IBM's broad and integrated family of cloud technologies, the IBM® SmartCloud® portfolio, IBM is perfectly placed to deliver hybrid cloud solutions. IBM, for instance, has solutions for integrating multi-source, multi-vendor cloud solutions, allowing application portability and central system and server management.
Another example of application portability in a hybrid cloud is the use of design patterns—allowing you to define your infrastructure topology, including application code and scalability characteristics into a reusable asset—in both IBM's public and private cloud solutions. The developerWorks article series Inside the hybrid cloud takes you through all aspects of the value and impact of implementing and using a hybrid cloud.
- The first article, Redefine services and delivery methods, covers the basics of a hybrid cloud implementation, takes you through the services it makes available, and provides a point of view on the potential business value. The article is available at www.ibm.com/developerworks/cloud/library/cl-hybridcloud1.
- Federation is key to XaaS, the second article, describes hybrid cloud in more detail and focuses on the principle of a federated cloud: orchestrating multiple cloud solutions as if it were one solution. It is available at www.ibm.com/developerworks/cloud/library/cl-hybridcloud2.
- The article Administration peeks under the hood of hybrid cloud to see what it takes to make the hybrid powerhouse a reality. It can be viewed at www.ibm.com/developerworks/cloud/library/cl-hybridcloud3.
- Implementation considerations, the final article of the series, looks into the aspect of implementing and consuming a hybrid cloud setup like governance, network connectivity, and access control. This article is available at www.ibm.com/developerworks/cloud/library/cl-hybridcloud4.
This article helped us in closing the loop from the IBM cloud strategy and IBM® SmartCloud® portfolio, through fine-grained information on IBM® SmartCloud® Enterprise, and reaching towards a high-level view where IBM® SmartCloud® might be heading in the near future.
Resources for Article:
- What is Oracle Public Cloud? [Article]
- Photo Stream with iCloud [Article]
- Introduction to Oracle Service Bus & Oracle Service Registry [Article]