New support makes it more affordable to move to the cloud.
IBM SmartCloud Entry, which IBM launched in October 2011, now supports the open source KVM (Kernel-based Virtual Machine) hypervisor. This means that with just one product, customers can support virtual machines that are running on KVM, VMware, and/or PowerVM.
Cloud computing is one of those technologies for which people have differing definitions, but SmartCloud Entry does the most basic things that just about everyone expects from a cloud solution: web-based provisioning for a cloud, and a pay-as-you go model. SmartCloud Entry supports those two critical capabilities with a couple of key attributes that decrease risk to organizations. First, it makes it really simple for a company that is new to the cloud to get started with a private cloud safely and behind their own firewall, and second, it does so with pricing that is completely affordable for the mid-market.
Think of the self-service provisioning enabled by SmartCloud Entry compared to the days of putting in requests to the IT department as being analogous to using a vending machine versus waiting on line in a cafeteria to place your order. With the vending machine, you walk up and push a button. You know what is possible ahead of time - as well as the price - and what you select is made available immediately.
In addition, the pay-as-you-go model enables organizations to pay for computing services on a utility basis, as opposed to the old capital expense model where they had to invest in new hardware and software and before it was over, the whole process took weeks to get up and running. SmartCloud Entry’s basic metering enables administrators to charge back to users based on who used which workload and for how long.
Of course, the prerequisite for any cloud is a virtualized environment and one of the unique differentiators of SmartCloud Entry is that it works with multiple virtualization solutions. On IBM Power Systems, it works with PowerVM, and on IBM System x or other x86 servers, it can support VMware and now also KVM, and in the future, that support will be extended to other hypervisors, including Microsoft Hyper-V.
Increasingly, organizations are using multiple hypervisors within their IT environments. They may have started with a proprietary hypervisor three or four years ago when virtualization was relatively new, but now that their confidence has increased and they know exactly what they require and what they don’t, they are choosing the hypervisor that meets their needs affordably, and where it is appropriate. In fact, Gabriel Consulting Group - which terms this trend “hyperversity” (a mash-up of “hypervisor” and “diversity”) - found in its latest data center survey that two-thirds of enterprise respondents are using a minimum of two virtualization mechanisms, and that those selections were based on technical and/or cost considerations.
SmartCloud Entry with KVM Pilot Program in China
IBM tested this new release of SmartCloud Entry with KVM support for six months in China - where the company also recently opened its very first KVM Center of Excellence. There is a huge amount of interest in KVM and open source software in general in China. IBM chose that region for our test for a number of reasons. While that market is adopting virtualization later than others, the benefit from their point of view is that they have not been dominated by proprietary technologies as have other regions. As a result, they have more choice, and there is more rapid uptake of KVM. One of the other interesting things noticed during the test was that about half of all customers deploying SmartCloud Entry had a mixed hardware environment, and they liked the fact that one cloud solution spans all their platforms (since SmartCloud Entry supports Power and System x, as well as IBM PureFlex systems).
There is a huge market opportunity in China based on where organizations are on the maturity curve and there is quite a bit of cost pressure also. When I go to China, every conversation is about cloud and how to utilize cloud for efficiency and cost savings, so getting clients on their way to more efficient utilization of cloud technologies starts with the premise of virtualization and then this notion of self-service provisioning and metering. Also, implementing a cloud solution on a very cost effective platform is resonating extremely well in China. As Zhou Yuan, from China Network World observed when IBM launched the new KVM Center of Excellence, “The cloud computing market is growing very fast and hence virtualization technology drew much attention from the market. The announcement of KVM breaks the monopoly and provides a new option for clients - an option with lower cost.”
The Broad SmartCloud Portfolio
We know that for some customers, particularly those in the mid-market, SmartCloud Entry may provide all the features they will need for some time, while others will take advantage more quickly of the pathway to other IBM SmartCloud products. By its very nature, the cloud is about flexibility and elasticity, and that is why it is important to be able to make technology choices that align with those attributes. And that is also why, at IBM, we have a whole portfolio of products under the SmartCloud banner. SmartCloud Entry is the starting point.
Vice President and Business Line Executive
IBM Systems Software