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IBM Virtual Servers for Bluemix

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IBM Virtual Servers (formerly known as IBM Virtual Machines) is a hosted cloud environment, part of IBM Bluemix, that you can use to build, run, manage, and monitor your applications, while maintaining the control over your apps and the middleware on which they run. Use Virtual Servers to isolate your business solutions, especially when you deploy your apps in a public cloud.

Virtual Servers is built on OpenStack, an open-source cloud computing technology and includes native OpenStack CLI and API support. With IBM Virtual Servers, you can create, run, and manage virtual servers in public and local (on-premises) clouds that use industry-leading OpenStack software. You can use IBM Bluemix capabilities to remove IT complexities that are associated with hosting and managing cloud-based applications such as logging, auto-scaling, and monitoring. You can use OpenStack services and Bluemix services together to build and run hybrid applications. You can provision infrastructure resources as needed, based on operational policies and workload demand.

What can I do with IBM Virtual Servers?

With IBM Virtual Servers, you can:

  • Create virtual machines or virtual servers that are created from images that are OpenStack compliant. You can use images that are provided by IBM, custom images that you create in Bluemix, and custom images that you create locally or in other local cloud environments.
  • Host your images in the Virtual Servers Image repository, which is a private repository hosted in the IBM Public cloud to which only members of your organization that are authorized can have access.
  • Deploy and run virtual servers in Bluemix and in your local (private) OpenStack cloud.
  • Deploy a single virtual server, that is a single virtual server instance that you can use for development. After it is tested and ready, deploy it as a scalable virtual server. You can then configure the number of active instances that you want to run in parallel to offer your clients a service that is highly-available and scalable.
  • Export images to your local system and run them locally.
  • Upload images into Bluemix and run them in the IBM Public Cloud or in a local cloud environment.
  • Use the Bluemix dashboard to graphically create and manage virtual servers, which are available in the IBM Public cloud or in your private cloud.
  • Use the OpenStack API and the OpenStack CLI to manage your virtual servers.

What are some of the benefits?

  • You can reuse and move virtual server images that are created in Bluemix between your cloud and on-premises systems freely.
  • You can reduce the number of development platforms and systems that you must maintain.
  • You can reduce the planning and costs that are required to provision on-premises systems to develop and run virtual machines in your local infrastructure.

IBM Virtual Servers are ideally suited for hybrid cloud

With IBM Virtual Servers, you can develop hybrid cloud solutions that use services that are available in your local (private) cloud, your local systems, and in the IBM Public cloud. You control where to run your apps and where you offer your services.

Let’s look now at some of the benefits of adopting Bluemix as your cloud development platform and IBM Virtual Servers as your compute infrastructure.

  • Configure a secure connection between your local (private) cloud and Bluemix: The Secure Gateway service for Bluemix provides secure connectivity and establishes a tunnel between your Bluemix organization and the local cloud that you want to connect to. You can easily configure and create a secure gateway by using the Bluemix user interface (UI) or the application programming interface (API) package.
  • Monitor the health of your virtual servers: IBM Virtual Servers offers integrated monitoring. As soon as you deploy a new virtual server, you have insight into the CPU, memory, and network utilization of that server. You can collect information on how a virtual server performs. Monitoring is a capability that is enabled for virtual servers that are created from a virtual server image that is provided by IBM. You can also configure your own virtual servers to enable monitoring. You can review the data that is collected from your virtual server on the Bluemix Dashboard or by using Grafana.
  • Monitor the operational health of applications that run inside the virtual server: IBM Virtual Servers offers integrated logging. You can monitor system and application logs that are available inside a virtual server to diagnose problems. To monitor application logs, you must install the Bluemix multi-tenant logstash-forwarder agent in your virtual server and configure the logs that you want to monitor. You can review the data that is collected from your virtual server on the Bluemix Dashboard or by using Kibana.
  • Attach block storage volumes to virtual servers: Persistent data from transaction intensive applications that require low latency between the application run time and the storage, for example, a database server. When you provision a virtual server, the storage that is allocated to run the virtual server is ephemeral and you cannot persist application data in it. However, you can use a block storage volume with a virtual server to increase the storage capacity and to persist data between restarts of the virtual server. In Bluemix, the Block Storage service provides the functionality to manage block storage volumes in the IBM public cloud.
  • Manage block storage volumes and virtual servers independently: The lifecycle of a virtual server and the lifecycle of block storage volumes that are attached to the virtual server are independent. You can manage them in isolation so that your applications are available and accessible at all times. You can manage storage per virtual server.
  • Configure the network security policy for a virtual server: Configuration is via one or more security groups that you associate to a single virtual server or to a virtual server group. A security group is a set of IP filter rules that define how to handle incoming and outgoing traffic to a virtual server instance. The rules that you add to a security group are known as security group rules. In Bluemix, the IBM Network Security Groups service provides the functionality to manage security groups in the IBM public cloud.
  • Assign a public IP address to a virtual server in one step: For example, you can create a virtual server without a public IP address so that it is accessible internally. When your application is ready for the world, you can assign a public IP address to the virtual server and make it available externally.

Summary

By using IBM Virtual Servers for Bluemix, you remove IT complexities that are associated with hosting and managing cloud-based applications and focus on delivering high quality solutions quickly. In addition, when you use IBM Virtual Servers for Bluemix as your cloud development platform, you can control and manage the quota of cloud resources that are allocated to your organization. Your cloud administrator has the authority to specify quota limits that ensure that your use of Bluemix adheres to your organization’s budget targets.

IBM Virtual Servers is currently available as a BETA service. Bluemix offers 24/7 support; you can check system status at IBM Bluemix Status or contact IBM Bluemix Support to raise any problems.

This is the first post in a series of articles about IBM Virtual Servers (previously known as IBM Virtual Machines). Watch this space for the announcement of more beta participants!

To learn more about Virtual Servers, read the overview section in the IBM Virtual Servers documentation.

I look forward to your feedback and suggestions! Please contact either Matt Kelm (kelmmatt@us.ibm.com) or Marisa Lopez de Silanes (lopezdsr@uk.ibm.com). You can also add a comment to this post.

Senior Content Design Developer

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