IBM Smart Cloud Provisioning introduces PaaS capabilities with the possibility to create blueprints to standardize the deployment of complex tiered applications like for example a J2ee three tiers application made of a Http Server, an Application Server, and a DB Server, each running on a different VM eventually configured on different network segments. These blueprints are called patterns in IBM Workload Deployer terminology, which is the foundation technology of SmartCloud Provisioning. Virtual system patterns are used to define a topology middleware software configuration to meet application requirements and you can setup that configuration using familiar concepts and leveraging existing scripts that SmartCloud Provisioning takes care of executing when the virtual machines hosting the middleware components are deployed to the cloud.
You can use any virtual image to build a virtual system pattern. However, in order to perform aforementioned configuration steps you need to inject a so called activation engine, which is able to execute the configuration scripts defined when creating the virtual system pattern (add-on scripts and script packages). The good news is that you do not have to do that manually: SmartCloud Provisioning provides the Image Construction and Composition Tool (ICCT) that you can use to clone and extend your basic certified image to make it “cloud ready”. Images extended that way are called intermediate images. You can drop any add-on script and script package on an intermediate image when building a pattern in the pattern editor, while you cannot for basic images. You can still add basic images as part of your virtual system pattern topology, but SmartCloud Provisioning cannot perform sophisticated configuration steps: these images are more suitable to fit IaaS deployment scenarios. For these scenarios you can still define additional network interfaces (vNIC) and you can still attach additional disks to the virtual image instance. What you cannot achieve without extending the image is the configuration of these things: you have to login into the provisioned virtual machines and configure the vNICs as well as formatting and mounting the raw disks.
Virtual Image Library is enhanced to discover the capabilities of a virtual image and tagging it so you visually know whether a virtual image is suitable to be included in a virtual system pattern, and you can eventually extend it.
You can get beta versions of SmartCloud Provisioning at this link http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/downloads/tiv/smartcloud/index.html to familiarize with virtual images construction tools and with pattern-based deployment.