Why an appliance?
Over the past couple of weeks following the WebSphere CloudBurst announcement, I've had the opportunity to talk to several people about the new offering. Some of these people were IBM customers familiar with WebSphere products while others were non-IBM customers with a general interest in cloud computing solutions. Among both groups of people there was nearly always a common question: Why is WebSphere CloudBurst delivered in appliance form? The answer to that question is three-fold: consumability, security, and computing power.
By delivering WebSphere CloudBurst as an appliance, users benefit from extreme consumability. Getting started using WebSphere CloudBurst is as simple as plugging the appliance in, connecting it to your network, and spending a little bit of time with the initial setup. The software that provides the function of WebSphere CloudBurst is on the firmware of the appliance, so there is no need to install or maintain this on any other machine. In fact, updates to the firmware, and thus WebSphere CloudBurst software, can be achieved from the WebSphere CloudBurst GUI.
The WebSphere CloudBurst Appliance shares many of the same security features of the DataPower Appliance. This means that the box is tamper resistant thus preventing its physical components like memory and hard disks from being used in any other capacity. In addition to the physical security of the appliance, WebSphere CloudBurst also includes function to encrypt certain sensitive information. Information like SSL certificates, usernames, passwords, virtual images, and more are securely encrypted and stored on the appliance. This prevents the possibility of something or someone outside the WebSphere CloudBurst Appliance getting access to these sensitive bits of information.
Finally, the WebSphere CloudBurst Appliance provides the necessary computing resource to manage the resources of the private cloud. The virtual images delivered with the appliance that contain the operating system, WebSphere Application Server, and IBM HTTP Server are quite sizeable (somewhere in the neighborhood of 20GB). The appliance provides the storage capacity that is needed for the images delivered with the appliance and the customized images that users may create (not to mention fancy storage algorithms that are able to represent customized images as deltas of shipped images and provide other handy compression techniques). In addition, the appliance supplies the necessary computing resource for moving these large images across the wire and into the private cloud.
Regardless of whether or not I'm talking to an IBM or non-IBM customer, I give the above answer every time I'm asked why WebSphere CloudBurst is delivered in appliance form. It seems to resonate pretty well with both groups of people, so I hope it makes sense to anyone reading this. As always, if you have any questions feel free to send us an email at email@example.com or send us a Tweet @WebSphereClouds.
-- Dustin Amrhein