March 9, 2021 By Jason McGee 5 min read

A distributed cloud provides consistent security and services across environments, centralized workload visibility, reduced latency, easier compliance and higher application development velocity.

There are many benefits to having multiple cloud environments, but there are also big challenges. Companies must overcome inconsistency, complexity and a shortage of skills and time required to operate and secure multiple rapidly evolving platforms. Using different clouds is further complicated by the different development practices each environment requires.  

Let’s say your finances services company is based in the US and has successfully marketed a payment solution to online businesses in North America. Fast economic growth in Southeast Asia is presenting an opportunity to offer your solution there. But the risks of entering a new and geographically distant market would usually include large costs — data centers, new staff, etc. — and a long path to delivery. Not managed well, those risks may decrease your company’s competitiveness by increasing the price at which you can profitably service customers. In addition, regulations will require that your solution can process payments within region and also within a two-second interval; penalties for non-compliance could easily cost millions.

In meeting those challenges, the advantages of a distributed cloud stand out. First, in using a distributed cloud, your team can deliver your solution into whatever environment your customer chooses — on-premises data center, a colocation site, on a cloud platform or edge locations like retail stores. Also, to make serial customizations unnecessary, your development team can use their usual pipeline to modify existing application code so that it flexibly complies with data locality rules. Finally, by adding new targets to the pipeline, your team can deploy the modernized application to multiple locations as needed, scaling your business without a big increase in operations staff.

Distributed cloud . . . refers to the distribution of public cloud services to different physical locations while the operation, governance and evolution of the services remain the responsibility of the public cloud provider. [The] distributed cloud brings aspects of worldwide public cloud regions, hybrid cloud and edge computing to the original world of cloud computing.” – Gartner, “Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends: Distributed Cloud

With IBM Cloud Satellite as your distributed cloud, you can build faster, securely and anywhere you want.

IBM Cloud Satellite is Available

Delivered from a single view controlled through the public cloud and maintained as a service by IBM, IBM Cloud Satellite gives you the ability to deploy IBM Cloud services anywhere. 

With IBM Cloud Satellite, customers gain the flexibility to run their applications where it makes sense while still leveraging all the security and ops benefits of public cloud. Satellite locations can be in on-premises data centers, colocation centers, in public clouds or at the edge. Enterprise applications can run in close proximity to their data stores, reducing latency and increasing data security. Running Cloud Services in a specific country or region allows you to easily comply with local data residency regulations. With IBM Cloud Satellite, as with IBM public cloud, your teams focus on app development, not redundant operational chores or platform differences.

IBM Cloud Satellite enables you to do the following:

  • Run workloads where it makes the most sense: Unlike other public clouds, IBM Cloud is architected with an open source Kubernetes foundation for greater portability to IBM Cloud Satellite locations. Because you can run workloads, data and services in any environment — public cloud, your data center or an edge location — you can achieve consistent application operations and improved performance across your environments.
  • Improve auditability and accountability when data and workloads remain in place: You have a leg up for audits and compliance by keeping workloads where regulations require.
  • Adapt quickly to new markets and needs: You get a common as-a-service platform to extend cloud native tools to any location. At the same time, you’re transforming existing code to build new apps in days, not months. All of which leads to quick reponses to competitive threats.
  • Access a rich catalog of API-driven cloud services and software: Deploy cloud services with the click of a button to any environment. 
  • Simplify service availability and control: Employ a single dashboard, common identity and access management and centralized observability across all your IBM Cloud Satellite locations. This will help you to achieve end-to-end security where data and workloads reside.

Key concepts and components

Satellite extends IBM Cloud with the new concept of a “location.” Locations are infrastructure outside IBM public cloud where you can run services and applications: 

A location is supported by a group of Red Hat Enterprise Linux hosts that provide capacity to run your applications and IBM Cloud service instances. IBM Cloud Satellite supports the infrastructure that clients already have today. In addition, clients can choose to run their Satellite locations on integrated appliances or via IBM Cloud Satellite Infrastructure Service:

Once you create and populate a location, you can start using it to run IBM Cloud services, such as Red Hat OpenShift, IBM Cloud Pak for Data as a Service, IBM Cloud Databases, Continuous Delivery pipelines, AI and more:

Satellite locations also become targets for the IBM Cloud content catalog, enabling you to deploy software from IBM Cloud to clusters running in your Satellite locations. With IBM Cloud Satellite, IBM Cloud Paks can be deployed anywhere on a cloud-managed OpenShift cluster.

Satellite provides capabilities to manage configuration across locations and control network traffic between locations and IBM Cloud and between applications running in those locations. 

Single pane of glass lets you a view and manage all IBM Cloud services and applications running in Satellite locations across your on-premises, cloud platform and edge network environments.

Satellite Config provides a global view of your applications and control over configuration and application deployment. 

Security for Satellite starts in the IBM Cloud console, where you extend the familiar controls for policies, logging, monitoring, IAM and more.

Satellite Link is a two-way tunnel you control that securely connects your Satellite location to the IBM Cloud region from which your location is managed. Encrypted communication that leaves and enters your location is proxied by the Link tunnel server, and network traffic on this connection can be monitored and audited. IBM can never see or touch your data.

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