Software-defined environments can change the way we think about the world of application, integration and middleware. But what are they and how can you get started? Here are a few Q&As to help you quickly understand the technology and what it can do for you.
What is an SDE and why use one when you have traditional environment approaches?
Software Defined Environments (SDEs) help bring value to your organization through responsive and adaptive solutions. SDEs optimize the entire computing infrastructure — compute, storage and network resources—and can automatically tailor themselves to the needs to the workload. An SDE is a service-based model that abstracts the computing infrastructure and manages and adjusts it based on policies. Without an SDE, you must manually allocate compute, storage and network resources to different workloads and this can be a time-consuming and repetitive task.
The SDE removes manual steps by taking application characteristics, best-available resources and service level policies into account to dynamically allocate available resources to the various workloads. It can also deliver continuous, “on the fly” optimization and reconfiguration to address changing workload and infrastructure needs. We call this scale out and scale in and it is achieved through policy-based compliance checks and updates.
How do containers compare to VMs and SDEs?
Containers, such as Docker, are designed to simplify the packaging and distribution of software. They work above the operating system level of the computing stack and are fast and light at startup. Because they are portable, they can bring together all elements of an application so they deploy quickly, operate independently from other containerized applications and can be easily ported to new locations, for example from development to production or from a vendor like IBM to you.
Containers work within IT policies and allow you to embrace your own data center standards. For example, existing monitoring and security overlays can remain on the host operating system while the application is isolated inside its container. You can fully utilize existing infrastructure capabilities like storage copy and replication services. Existing monitoring tools such as systems management, network monitoring, and even popular cloud management tools, including OpenStack and Kubernetes, can continue to be used. Thus, containers work within the existing processes and guidelines you already have established.
Do containers sound like a virtual machine (VM)? Well not really. VM virtualization technology abstracts at the hardware level and creates an entire virtual operating system. You can use VMs and Container technologies together, for example, Docker containers can be created inside VMs to make a solution ultra-portable.
So what does IBM have to offer in the SDE space?
IBM dashDB Local is the IBM data warehouse offering for SDEs such as private clouds, virtual private clouds and other infrastructures that leverages Docker container technology. It deploys to any environment that supports Docker and is designed to provision a full data warehouse stack in minutes. You can manage dashDB Local on the server or cloud environment of your choice, while maintaining existing operational and security processes.
dashDB Local can be deployed on any supported Docker platforms on Linux and Windows with minimal prerequisites. Entry level hardware requirements start at 8GB RAM and a single CPU core, which is suitable for a development / test environment or QA work on your laptop. This comes in handy for Data Scientists or Business Analysts as well. For larger servers like 48 core 3 TB RAM servers, the dashDB container will auto-configure to make the best use of the available resources with minimal tuning. To summarize, this configuration empowers users to make the efficient use of the hardware what you already have in your data center or in the cloud environment of your choice.
For more information on dashDB Local, please visit the dashDB Local page on the public Docker repository to access the free trial. Start by creating a Docker hub ID which you will need in order to gain access to the dashDB Local trial.