In this first chapter we will cover the essentials of cloud computing and set the stage for the chapters to follow. We will briefly cover the essential characteristics, business benefits, and organizational impact of cloud computing to avoid any misconception later on in the book.
After this we discover what IBM® has to offer in the cloud computing arena in the IBM® SmartCloud® portfolio. From this portfolio, we find out which foundational components, cloud services, and cloud solutions IBM has available.
Lastly, we cover the strengths and weaknesses of IBM® SmartCloud® Enterprise within the portfolio before we learn how to get started with this specific cloud solution in the next chapter.
Before we start with cloud computing and the IBM® SmartCloud® portfolio, let's first briefly look at the history of IBM. International Business Machines Corporation (or IBM) is a leading technology and service company which has been delivering innovative technology solutions for over 100 years. IBM serves clients in over 170 countries, has over 4,00,000 employees worldwide, is the third most valuable brand worldwide, and has delivered the most U.S. patents for 20 years in a row. To quote Ginni Rometty, Chief Executive Officer, IBM:
"IBM is an innovation company. We pursue continuous transformation both in what we do and how we do it—always remixing to higher value in our offerings and skills, in our operations and management practices, and in the transformational capabilities we deliver to our clients."
Over that last few years, IBM has been heavily engaged on the Smarter Planet® strategy, which recognizes that, each and every day, the world is getting more:
Instrumented: Computers in any shape and size are nowadays everywhere. Think of smartphones, home automation, electric cars, and alternative power sources such as windmills and solar panels.
Interconnected: Exchanging data to work together. Think of an on-demand streaming video on your television set, using your smartphone to control your lights or central heating, but also cities being able to control traffic better using data from surveillance cameras and sensors in the road.
Intelligent: Using the data gathered (interconnected) from the many sensors (instruments) around us to get information and even new insights that enable us all to do things smarter.
In 2011 IBM announced the Smarter Computing IT framework, as part of the Smarter Planet strategy, which is based on three key principles: designing systems for data, optimizing systems for specific workloads, and managing systems in using a cloud computing architecture. As the title suggests, this book will only cover the cloud computing part of the Smarter Computing IT framework.
All IBM cloud computing solutions are bundled in the IBM® SmartCloud® portfolio which will be elaborated further on in this chapter. From the next chapter onwards, we will focus specifically on the IBM® SmartCloud® Enterprise in particular, as this public cloud service allows us to example many of the characteristics that are essential to cloud computing.
Before going into detail about the IBM® SmartCloud® portfolio, we will touch upon the main characteristics of cloud computing. Although you would think that by now, since the term cloud computing dates back from 2008, we would all know characteristics an IT solutions should have to be considered cloud computing.
Unfortunately this is not the case, but this is not unique to cloud computing alone. Think of service oriented architecture (SOA) for instance, which was never really understood by the public at large.
Thankfully, standards for cloud computing are emerging, which most of the larger IT providers are adopting. So, get educated! Not with IT provided – marketing infused – collateral, but by using knowledge of well-renowned standardization bodies.
Good examples of standards and standardization bodies are the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) at www.nist.gov/itl/cloud, the Open Group® at www.opengroup.org/subjectareas/cloudcomputing, Cloud Standards Customer Council (CSCC) at www.cloud-council.org, Cloud Computing Use Case Discussion Group at cloudusecases.org, OpenStack® at www.openstack.org, and OASIS® TOSCA at www.oasis-open.org/committees/tosca.
To get a common understanding on cloud computing, which you will need for the following chapters, let's start with the basics: the essential characteristics and service and deployment models. For this, we will use one of the standardization bodies described earlier, NIST to be more specific, as the NIST definition has become the de facto definition of cloud computing:
"Cloud computing is a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction."
Read about the NIST definition of cloud computing at csrc.nist.gov/publications/nistpubs/800-145/SP800-145.pdf.
Although this widely-adopted description of what makes a cloud computing solution is very valuable, it is not very tangible or easy to understand. So let's dive a little deeper into cloud computing and why it's different than just visualization alone, which is commonly mistaken to be cloud computing as well.
The following image shows that cloud computing is composed of five essential characteristics, three deployment models, and four service models as shown in the following figure:
Rapid elasticity: Resources are provisioned and released on-demand and/or automated based on triggers or parameters. This will make sure your application will have exactly the capacity it needs at any point of time.
As we see, cloud computing is much more than just virtualization. It's really about utilizing technology "as a service". Users need little to no knowledge on the details of how a particular service is implemented, on which hardware, on how many CPU's, and so on. All that's important for a user is to have good understanding of what the service offers—and what it does not—and how to operate the self-service portal.
According to NIST there are three service models: infrastructure (IaaS), platform (PaaS), and software as-a-service (SaaS). To get a better understanding on what each of the service models comprises, refer to the following image that depicts the layers of which atypical IT solution consists:
An infrastructure as a service solution should include vendor-managed network, storage, servers, and virtualization layers for a client to run their application and data on. Next, platform as a service build on top of infrastructure as a service adding vendor-managed middleware such as web, application, and database software. Software as a service again builds on top of that, most of the time adding applications that implement specific user functionality such as email, CRM, or HRM.
Interestingly enough, IBM and other major IT and analyst firms have added a fourth service model, namely business process as a service (BPaaS). Business process as a service, as the word implies, offers an entire horizontal or vertical business process and builds on top of any of the previously depicted cloud service models. See more tangible examples of business process as a service in the IBM® SmartCloud® Solutions section in this chapter.
Three main deployment models can be considered: private, public, and hybrid. Although this sounds pretty easy, these deployment models should be considered more as a spectrum of delivery options than a limited set of options:
Private: A single-tenant cloud solution utilizing hardware and software owned by the client, physically located inside the client firewall or even data center. Most of the time upfront investment is required, similar to traditional IT.
Public: A multi-tenant cloud solution delivered from shared hardware and software owned by the cloud service provider, physically located outside the clients' private network (mostly the Internet) and data centers. Most of the time these services are truly pay for use and do not require upfront investment.
Hybrid: An IT landscape comprised of both private and public cloud solutions. Hybrid is expected to be the most adopted deployment model because it delivers best of breed solutions for all needs. A client can, for example, implement a private cloud solution for applications containing highly sensitive data while utilizing public cloud solutions for all non-sensitive data.
As mentioned, the deployment models should be considered as a spectrum. Think of who owns the hardware, where the service is physically delivered from, who manages each of the IT layers of the service model, how network connectivity is arranged, how the payment model is constructed, and more of these variables.
To learn more on what cloud computing is and how to take advantage, download the e-book, Cloud Services for Dummies, free of charge at http://ow.ly/kYahH.
Now that we have covered what cloud computing, is let's briefly cover what the value of utilizing cloud services can be. We specifically mention "can be", as the true value can be different per application. There's no one-size-fits-all cloud solution available, as many different applications exist in the world and many organizations utilize applications differently.
However as a general rule, one of the benefits of cloud computing is increased efficiency; services are rapidly deployed and ready for use in a matter of minutes versus the weeks or months it traditionally takes. But, there is more to cloud computing than just getting your computed resources, storage capacity, or application as a service within minutes. Some examples are:
Business agility: Getting the compute resources you need when you need them. This will drastically shorten the time for new projects to get started, resulting in a quicker and ultimately more predictive time-to-market. Being able to deliver results faster, cheaper, and with more quality might just give a business the competitive edge it needs.
New business models: Using or combining readily available cloud services into a service allows us to define new and innovative business models with ease. This can result in new value propositions and revenue streams.
Less operational issues: Reduce issues and defects significantly by utilizing standardized services. This will increase business continuity and reduce time spent on operational issues. Secondly, cloud computing can also allow us to deploy the same service or topology of services repetitively, with the same predictable result every time.
Less capital expense: There is some debate about the value of shifting from a capital expense (CapEx) model to an operational expense (OpEx) model. The overall feeling is that, specifically for short and midterm projects, the OpEx model is more attractive because there are no long term financial commitments.
As we see, there can be quite some value in using cloud services. But, let us remember that the exact value we perceive and achieve will be different for each application and the application's entire life cycle.
Now that we have covered the inevitable basics of cloud computing, let's see what IBM has to offer in the cloud arena. It will come as no surprise that IBM, as a hardware and software vendor, and business and technology services provider, has a lot to offer. IBM in fact has a unique position in the industry— by bringing together key cloud technologies, deep process knowledge, and a network of global delivery centers— and a broad portfolio of cloud software and solutions.
All IBM cloud computing services are bundled in the IBM® SmartCloud® portfolio, which consists of three unique segments as the following IBM image depicts.
Each of the segments—IBM® SmartCloud® Foundation, IBM® SmartCloud® Services and IBM® SmartCloud® Solutions—has a specific set of cloud services and can be loosely mapped to the cloud service and deployment models.
Overlaying all segments are the consulting, implementation, migration, and management services to assist clients in defining their business cloud strategy, either becoming a cloud service provider or adopting cloud services, and start utilizing cloud services.
An important asset for these services is the Cloud Computing Reference Architecture (CCRA), a blueprint or guide for architecting cloud computing implementations. The CCRA, based on years of experience of working with customers who have implemented cloud computing solutions, has captured best practices and patterns for many different cloud computing usage scenarios.
Cloud-enabled data center: How an organization can build a private IaaS solution and hybrid cloud integration
Platform Services: Extending the cloud-enable data center pattern with PaaS solutions
Building SaaS: Build value propositions and use cases for SaaS solutions
Cloud Service Provider: How organizations can build a "commercial" cloud to become a cloud service provider themselves
An interesting aspect of the CCRA is that everyone is free to learn about it and can prove that they have mastered it by certifying as IBM Certified Solution Advisor—Cloud Computing Architecture V3.
Another thing to note is IBM's commitment to open cloud standards. IBM has a long history of supporting standards and open source initiatives. IBM, for instance, joined the OpenStack Foundation as Platinum-level sponsor in 2012 to leverage extensive client experience and the services in the IBM® SmartCloud® portfolio. Adoption of open cloud standards will ultimately prevent cloud consumers having issues with vendor lock-in which allows cloud consumers to utilize the growing market of cloud services without hesitation.
See more on open cloud standards IBM supports in Chapter 6, Further Developments.
The first segment of the IBM® SmartCloud® portfolio is IBM® SmartCloud® Foundation. IBM® SmartCloud® Foundation refers to a set of hardware and software components available for enterprises or service providers to build their own private or hybrid cloud solutions. IBM® SmartCloud® Foundation delivers a unique set of capabilities to implement integrated cloud service delivery and management. Some examples are, but are not limited to:
Hardware and software enabling technologies to allow the customer to build their own private cloud part-by-part, deploy workloads across multiple cloud deployment models, and integrate applications in the cloud with little effort. Examples of software products are:
Provisioning and life cycle management software products such as IBM® SmartCloud® Entry, IBM® SmartCloud® Provisioning, and IBM® SmartCloud® Orchestration
Monitoring and performance software like IBM® SmartCloud® Monitoring
WebSphere® Cast Iron® Cloud integration software and appliances
PureSystems™ expert integrated systems capture and automate what experts do—from the infrastructure to the application—to make IT easy to deploy and manage. PureSystems delivers integrated and tuned hardware and software resources in ready-to-go, workload-optimized systems.
IBM Cloud Service Provider Platform gives Communication Service Providers (CSP) the ability to rapidlyand cost-effectively create, manage, and deliver high quality services using an advanced, scalable, carrier-grade integrated service management platform designed for CSPs.
The second segment of the IBM® SmartCloud® portfolio is IBM® SmartCloud® Services. IBM® SmartCloud® Services refer to a set of "public" IT cloud services delivered to enterprises. These IT services are covering the infrastructure and platform as a service space. They are specifically targeting large enterprise needs, providing enhanced service level agreement, security, and reliability required to serve production workloads.
As we have learned previously, a one-size-fits-all solution does not exist. IBM, therefore, differentiates two different types of cloud service, aligned to two different types of workloads: cloud-enabled workloads (system of record) and cloud-centric workloads (system of engagement).
Each workload has different characteristics, requiring a different infrastructure to support it:
Systems of record are passive, storing data and provide access/processing capabilities to interact with it
Systems of engagement encompass data and processing capabilities that include active stimulus/response functions
The following image from IBM shows the two types of workloads and depicts some of the unique characteristics:
More on the difference between systems of record versus systems of engagement can be found in the Forbes blog post at www.forbes.com/sites/joshbersin/2012/08/16/the-move-from-systems-of-record-to-systems-of-engagement.
IBM® SmartCloud® Enterprise, designed and built for cloud-centric workloads, enables enterprise clients to expand on internal development and test efforts, or accelerates new development and test projects via the cloud, with instant access to computing and storage resources, and IBM middleware and application life cycle management capabilities through IBM's secure, scalable cloud delivery model. In July 2013, IBM further strengthened its cloud-centric capabilities by acquiring SoftLayer Technologies, refer to Chapter 6, Further Developments, for more details.
IBM® SmartCloud® Enterprise+ is purposefully built for cloud-enabled workloads and offers a complete hosted and managed self-configurable cloud infrastructure service. This service contains multiple levels of isolation and 99.9 percent availability, ideal for migration of mission critical and strategic workloads, supported with cloud ITIL processes.
On top of the preceding infrastructure as services offerings, the following platforms as a service are available:
IBM® SmartCloud® Application Services offers platform services on top of SmartCloud Enterprise to provide customers with an end-to-end suite of tools for application development, deployment, and integration. It will offer integrated, team-based development environments on the cloud, application resources like database as a service, application deployment and management with purpose built services, and integration to synchronize data and processes across applications.
IBM® SmartCloud® for SAP Applications is a private shared cloud solution for business critical SAP system landscapes with production and non-production SAP systems. Certified SAP specialist for all relevant SAP products and technologies support the SAP systems in a 24 x 7 mode and ensure the highest service quality which are also defined in service level agreements.
IBM® SmartCloud® for Oracle applications is also a private shared cloud solution, but for business critical Oracle applications. It offers Oracle-managed services in a platform as a service (PaaS) mode for the full range of Oracle products on all VM options of the IBM® SmartCloud® Enterprise+ offering. As you might expect from a cloud service, it offers a flexible pricing model and payment options and significant improvement in time to service as compared to traditional deployments.
More on these PaaS solutions will be covered in more detail in Chapter 6, Further Developments.
Finally, the IBM® SmartCloud® Resilience suite offers a flexible, automated backup and recovery-managed service for all critical data, located onsite or offsite, using public and/or private cloud technology.
Last but not least, IBM® SmartCloud® Solutions refer to software and business processes delivered by IBM as a service. The solutions are grouped into specific verticals: business analytics and optimization solutions, social business solutions, smarter commerce solutions, and smarter cities. Example services are, but not limited to the following:
Business analytics and optimization solutions such as IBM Cognos®, IBM SPSS®, and IBM BAO Strategic IP Insight platform
Social business solutions such as IBM® SmartCloud® for Social Business, which has over 18 million users worldwide collaborating in the cloud, within and across company firewalls
Smarter Commerce™ solutions such as the suits of IBM DemandTec®, IBM Coremetrics®, IBM Emptoris®, and IBM Unica® offer great functionality right from the cloud for buying, selling, marketing, and servicing
Smarter Cities® solutions such as IBM Intelligent Operations Center provide leaders the tools to analyze data for better decisions, anticipate problems to resolve them proactively, coordinate resources to operate effectively, drive sustainable economic growth, and prosperity for their citizens
BPaaS offerings are also part of the IBM® SmartCloud® Solutions segment, offering for instance, service desk, payment, and expense reporting solutions.
In this chapter we have learned a bit about the history of IBM, and that cloud computing is solidly embedded in the company's strategy. Next we covered the basics: what cloud computing is (and isn't), and what its business values can be, before covering the highlights of the IBM® SmartCloud® portfolio and complete set of cloud services readily available for clients to use.
In the next chapters, we will zoom-in on one of the previously mentioned cloud services, IBM® SmartCloud® Enterprise. This cloud solution is a very good example for us to learn how an IaaS solution can be operated, utilized, and what use-cases it can support.