IBM SmartCloud Enterprise unleashed

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Note: This week and through Jan. 4, we are posting the top 10 posts of 2012. This post is #7 and was originally published July 19, 2012.

A lot of information is available about IBM SmartCloud Enterprise capabilities, but it’s not always easy to find. This blog post contains an overview of the capabilities of, and how to use and configure IBM SmartCloud Enterprise to fit your business needs and add the most value.

This blog post starts with generic information, and continues with more in-depth information about specific capabilities and use cases. The three most important sources of information, also used for most of the links in this post, are:

New to cloud computing? Read this resource, which provides a rapid and thorough grounding in cloud computing with a focus on the basic concepts; terminology definitions; types of cloud platforms, services, and products; how to start developing applications for the cloud; and connections to resources that can further expand your knowledge of the cloud. In addition, if you’re interested in information on navigating cloud implementation successfully, there’s a webcast coming up this Monday, July 23, that may interest you: It’s being led by IBM execs and industry expert Mike Vizard.

Also check out the IBM SmartCloud page, which shows you the overview of all IBM cloud solutions, ranging from infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS) to software as a service (SaaS), and from private cloud to shared cloud.

What is IBM SmartCloud Enterprise

IBM SmartCloud Enterprise is an agile computing infrastructure as a service (IaaS) solution that provides you with rapid access to an enterprise-class shared-cloud environment. Why call it shared-cloud, and not public-cloud? It’s optimized for business of any size and not intended for consumer use.

IBM SmartCloud Enterprise is well-suited for:

  • A broad spectrum of born-on-the-web applications, production and non-production
  • Development and test activities
  • Batch processing
  • Web hosting

This solution, developed for organizations that want a low-cost cloud environment suitable for running moderate-risk applications, can also help dramatically reduce the client’s IT costs.

The IBM cloud environment delivers compute options with virtual IT infrastructure support, a standard level of security for sharing physical IT resources among many tenants, and dedicated computing environments for an extra level of protection.

To learn more about the features and capabilities, the IBM SmartCloud Enterprise website is the best place to go! Explore popular uses, learn about all the details, and find out what it costs. There’s also a really great “cost estimator” where you can get a monthly budgetary estimate based on you own configuration.

Getting started with IBM SmartCloud Enterprise

A good article about how to get started with IBM SmartCloud Enterprise can be found on developerWorks. This article offers you step-by-step instructions to make your flight into the clouds productive.

After you have signed up for the IBM SmartCloud Enterprise, some of the best sources of additional information are on the support tab of the IBM SmartCloud Enterprise portal (after you have logged in):

  • The support community forum is the place to go for information about system status, answers to frequently asked questions, and tips on using the system.
  • The video library contains demonstration videos of several topics such as how to create and manage images, set up a VPN connection,and use firewalls.
    There’s also a helpful set of videos about popular uses, such as:

    • Big Data
    • Web workloads
    • Batch workloads
    • Development and Test workloads
    • Collaboration workloads
    • Performance Testing workloads
  • The document library contains documents to help you use the tool.
  • The asset catalog contains additional documentation and many technical support files.

Advanced capabilities

Next, I describe advanced capabilities.

Image Management

IBM SmartCloud Enterprise has many IBM software images ready to be provisioned and used in a pay as you go (PAYG) or bring your own license (BYOL) license model. There is also a list of cloud ecosystem partner images that extend the value of the IBM SmartCloud.

But the options don’t stop here; there are also multiple ways to create your own images and solutions using IBM SmartCloud Enterprise. To get started with this, read the developerWorks article to gain a broad understanding of the image and software bundle capabilities. Use the instructions of the IBM Image Construction and Composition Tool  to create your own private image. CohesiveFT, an IBM Business Partner solution, also offers a great way to create your own custom images. Read about ways to create images, written by one of our experts, to find out about four options, each with unique benefits.

You can also import an existing image (Linux only for now) into IBM SmartCloud Enterprise to save time and effort, or import appliance images.

Storage options

Introduced in release 2.0 is a second storage tier, named object storage. With IBM SmartCloud Enterprise – object storage, you can manage your unstructured and object data, such as documents, spreadsheets, PowerPoint Presentations, audio and visual files, and email and text messages. Upload a file of any size once, from anywhere in the world and access it anywhere –  as opposed to uploading the same file multiple times in multiple geographic regions.

Find out what it is (IBM SmartCloud Enterprise credentials needed) and how to use it with a CloudNAS image inside or outside IBM SmartCloud Enterprise or directly through the Object Storage API.

Network security

By default, the way to connect to your IBM SmartCloud Enterprise instances is through the Internet. As an additional service, instances can also be connected to a secure connection using one or multiple virtual private network (VPN) tunnels into an IBM SmartCloud Enterprise data center and multiple virtual local area networks (VLANs) in each data center to separate instances from each other.

This developerWorks article about setting-up VPN connections describes these two features in detail and explains how they can be used in multiple ways to meet your security requirements.

High availability and redundancy

Single-server SLAs are not all there is to availability and redundancy — as is the case in traditional IT environments, you still have to define a valid architecture. Read the developerWorks article (“High availability apps in the IBM Cloud”) about how to protect a cloud-enabled, production-grade application against a failure on any node.

Using the IBM SmartCloud Enterprise APIs

The API service of IBM SmartCloud Enterprise provides users with the ability to manage their instances from third-party applications. It was designed to be flexible and simple to use and implement clients for providing REST-based endpoints. Start with the command line tool and reference binaries (CLI) for using the command line utility to work with the cloud.

Find more in-depth documents for all the API options at the following links:

A reference guide is also available for the object storage API.

Advanced use cases

Advanced use cases are described next.

Big Data

Big Data is one of the major IT trends, so why not build part of your big data environment in the cloud? Education about which techniques are used and how to implement them can be found on the BigData University at: BD006EN – Hadoop & IBM Cloud (registration is necessary).

Backup and monitoring your instances

IBM SmartCloud Enterprise offers you a great variety of capabilities and possibilities, customer managed above the hypervisor to increase your time to market. The down side to this is that you, the customer, do need to think of basic IT necessities as any other IT environment would need, such as backup and monitoring.

Although some customers prefer to use their existing backup and monitoring solutions for their cloud images, others prefer to configure an IBM SmartCloud Enterprise instance with either a pre-build image for a task such as IBM Tivoli Monitoring, or install their choice of backup or monitoring software. Alternatively you can also use a software as a service (SaaS) solution such as Tivoli Live – monitoring services, ready to use right from the cloud.

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