Effective management and use of virtualized IT resources is a key pillar of the IBM Software Defined Environment (SDE) strategy. Of course, virtualized IT is nothing new and was invented by IBM back in the late 60s and used until today by many organization as part of Virtual Machine/370 and follow on systems. Users and applications were allocated virtual machines that gave them virtual compute, storage and even cool things like virtual printers and punches!
So what is different about the technology and the environment now that brings virtualization into the forefront of enabling a new wave of IT automation for today's demanding mobile, big data & analytics workloads?
Earlier mainframe virtualization environments and the more recent emergent UNIX and x86 virtualization solutions were based on proprietary formats and interfaces. This left anyone trying to implement an IT automation solution on top of these systems to write multiple implementations or use plugins and abstraction layers to hide the differences. Today, with OpenStack receiving wide spread acceptance as an open standard for virtual IT resource management, solution developers can develop to one interface.
In my early days as a programmer, I wrote automation programs to create and configure VM/370 virtual resources in support of diverse applications. This included carving out virtual disks and allocating memory segments in the whopping 16MB available in each virtual machine. This could be easily done when the overall system was being installed but to make changes later, it would have to involve a system programmer with the highest level access making manual changes to the system directory. Today, virtualization software supports dynamic updates to compute, storage and network resources via a programmable interface which is now standardized via OpenStack. This is critical to keep up with the changing needs of highly variable dynamic workloads and business priorities.
Heterogeneous and Distributed
When you had one big box, you didn't have to deal with managing and optimizing across mixed environments. Today's environments typically have multiple hypervisors and physical server clusters all living within the same enterprise or service provider datacenter. To effectively harness this pool of mixed environments to support the dynamically changing needs of new applications, they must be brought under a common control plane. Fortunately, IBM System z continues to be an excellent virtualization platform that can serve new and legacy workloads alike while reducing operation costs. For enterprises that have mixed environments, the IBM SDE solution with OpenStack provides a consistent approach to control these diverse environments in support of dynamic workloads.
As you can see, virtualization has come a long way since the late 60s and has now come of age in becoming an open, standard and programmable approach for IT automation and optimization that can easily support very diverse IT environments and workloads. To know more, refer the Software Defined Environment Community or follow us on Twitter @IBMSDE!
Director, Software Defined Environment Development
IBM Systems & Technology Group