Infrastructure matters in the cloud…and in the clouds

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When we’re flying in actual clouds, we care about the airplane, whether all the small pieces of hardware and software onboard are well fitted, tested and strong enough to hold. Airlines handle this for us and no one dares to question whether this is the way things should work. This is because infrastructure really matters when flying. In fact, it matters in everything we do.

But this is not the norm when it comes to IT infrastructure for cloud. The generally accepted opinion is that commodity infrastructure can do a marvelous job, and we’ll be more than fine with it building, expanding and consuming our cloud. More so, some are getting such an altitude-rush from flying in the virtual cloud that they tend to think they are flying by themselves, with no aircraft at all.

Why should it be so different in this case? Well, actually it’s not any different. Companies and people that run them are smart enough not to believe everything they are told. Not one but two of the latest Institute for Business Value studies reveal that companies are very aware of IT infrastructure’s vital role in enabling competitive advantage or optimizing revenue and profit. But only 10 percent admit that their current IT infrastructure is well fitted for their cloud, analytics, social, and mobile journeys.

While many advocate commodity servers, IBM dares to be different. With $3B committed to research for developing tomorrow’s microchips and $1.2B invested in expanding cloud services, IBM keeps announcing more and more reliable cloud technologies. It did so at Edge 2014, when POWER8 Scale-out servers were introduced; it does it with Elastic Storage, and Enterprise Cloud Systems; it continued in October at Enterprise 2014 and Insight 2014, with the announcement of Power Enterprise Systems, and the more recent System z announcement this January.  This story only gets better —  tune in next week to IBM InterConnect 2015, if you’re not already going, as it already looks like the event of the year for cloud.

Why do all these announcements make IBM any different than the mainstream, and what does this new infrastructure bring for cloud and the business? That discussion could go on forever, but I can’t resist giving you at least three examples of topics to reflect upon:

A safe by design environment for cloud and business: IBM brings built-in security across all its systems.

Highest availability and predictability: IBM Enterprise Cloud Systems can ensure up to 99.99 percent availability and less than 1 percent security incursions than competitive systems—plus it uses the fastest commercially available chip (5.5Ghz).

• Greatest speed of deployment, performance and utilization rates: IBM Systems use reference configurations with preconfigured patterns for quick deployment of workloads in the cloud. IBM XIV makes it possible to provision storage in less than a minute and ensures up to 95 percent utilization, while IBM POWER8 processors can deliver insights 82 times faster than x86 systems and scale-out Power Systems performance is guaranteed up to 65 percent utilization rate, far above the market average.

All these may seem like geek infrastructure stuff that has nothing to do with cloud and business. Just remember how comforting, reassuring and even vital it can be for you to be able to use safer, more predictable and faster aircrafts while flying through real clouds. And ask yourself: why should it be any different when it comes to virtual cloud infrastructure?

There are those who have not yet decided whether to build their own aircraft to fly in the cloud or simply subscribe to existing airlines. In other words, they are still pondering over the old private vs. public cloud debate. The good news is these folks don’t have to choose—they can definitely do both.

Depending on your workloads, your specific needs and your own business time schedule, it might not only be cheaper but also wiser for you to plunge into a hybrid cloud environment. Don’t worry, it’s not some weird futuristic stuff; it’s already happening and within reach for everyone.  Vissensa, a UK-based service provider, went hybrid last year with IBM Cloud.

But pay attention, you need an open ticket. Otherwise, you’ll be locked in with only one airline, and you don’t want to see yourself or your workloads stuck in one airport while everyone else is taking off in front of you. That means you need to check that every aircraft you’re embarking on is based on OpenStack and that your apps are built on Cloud Foundry so that they can change planes and keep on flying all the time, everywhere.

My advice is to keep your mind open and ask yourself: are there really no other options for me? You are not alone in this cloud journey, so always try learning from the experts, and then envision your own future.

Have a safe flight in the clouds and see you up in the air!

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