How to avoid headaches and risk by using IBM Systems Director VMControl and SmartCloud Entry
When organizations start thinking about embarking on a cloud deployment, they see the advantages of a utility-like model and the appeal of something such as Amazon’s EC2 public cloud offering resonates strongly with them. However, according to the analysts, a primary concern about using public clouds is security, since most people have heard the horror stories about outages and data leaks. And so, despite the ease-of-use of the public cloud, the attraction of private cloud is that clients get the same user experience but it is all safely built inside of their own firewall - using their own resources and their own IT infrastructure, thereby eliminating what they perceive as the biggest risks with a public cloud.
But what often gets overlooked in the evaluation of public vs. private cloud is that when anyone enters into an agreement to use a public cloud, they never have the headache of looking after the infrastructure. They basically pay for the workloads they want and get billed as they use them and that is all they have to do. The cloud provider, whether it is Amazon or someone else, has an army of people who are in charge of looking after the hardware that is running that cloud: keeping it properly functioning, managing it and patching it - and there is a lot of work involved in doing that. When a customer decides to implement a private cloud model, they inherit that maintenance headache - along with everything else that comes with being responsible for a cloud infrastructure.
As a result, when you think about implementing a private cloud, it is also necessary to think about how you will manage not only the virtualized resources but also the underlying physical infrastructure to guarantee service delivery and adhere to SLAs. Where IBM has a significant benefit over competing private cloud software providers is that we also deliver the platform management to help clients look after the physical infrastructure - and none of our competitors do that.
IBM SmartCloud Entry is our entry-level private cloud. It is a robust cloud software offering that takes your virtualized environment from cloud-ready to cloud. Users can request and provision an environment quickly through an easy-to-use Web-based interface and IT managers can monitor and manage this environment for improved efficiency and utilization of the data center. IBM SmartCloud Entry works with the IBM BladeCenter Foundation for cloud virtualization platform and the IBM ReadyPack for Cloud in addition to most IBM System x and BladeCenter servers. The IBM PureFlex System is delivered with IBM SmartCloud Entry for easy cloud-ready deployments.
SmartCloud Entry is a thin layer of software that overlays IBM Systems Director and IBM Systems Director VMControl. Those products provide you with platform management and the virtualization management. SmartCloud Entry adds cloud capabilities as well as a simple self-service Web portal enabling end users to provision their own workloads without involving the IT or systems administrator. It also takes care of metrics on the back end to track who is using which workload for how long so that the IT team can then “bill” people as they use workloads, providing a method to move to a pay-as-you-go or utility model as opposed to the traditional route of having to pay capital expense for provisioning new hardware and software. And, it also pushes the burden of provisioning (or creating a new virtual machine or workload) to the individual so it becomes a self-service IT infrastructure instead of having those requests become backlogged tasks for IT administrators.
With something like vCloud from VMware, clients get a cloud management layer but nothing to help diagnose or fix the underlying physical infrastructure if anything goes wrong – whereas, IBM offers that as an inherent part of SmartCloud Entry. We give you the tools you need to manage, diagnose, and repair the physical infrastructure to keep a cloud up and running and that is a major benefit of SmartCloud Entry.
Currently, PowerVM and VMware are supported by SmartCloud Entry, with support for additional hypervisors to be added in the future. There is a very high level of interest in KVM. We have large numbers of customers that are clearly looking to move to open source and KVM in a big way including their approach to delivering those workloads through the cloud.
Why KVM and Cloud?
The cloud use case is expected to drive a lot of adoption of KVM and provide a good reason for many people to move to the open source virtualization model. Cloud provides a level of abstraction so the end user doesn’t know or care what workloads are running on, and therefore, the people who provide the cloud infrastructure can move to implement the most cost-effective infrastructure which is where KVM and open source stack up very well. It no longer becomes a brand name issue. It becomes all about operational efficiency and the services that are delivered to end users.
Just think about what happens when organizations are using something like Amazon, a public cloud. In that scenario, they don’t know or care what the infrastructure is underneath so long as it works and the workloads are available. Adding this cloud layer of abstraction provides a great opportunity for alternative technologies like KVM. If the technology presents a great value proposition to the operators of the cloud in terms of both costs and the features that is offered, it gives them a good way to accelerate their deployment in large organizations.
Customer Reduces Server Count by 80% with IBM Systems Director Software and KVM
Have no doubt – KVM is ready for enterprise use. For example, a payment-processing company in Japan recently reduced its server count, decreased its use of electricity and space in its data center, and simplified IT administration by working with an IBM Premier Business Partner to consolidate its ERP environment onto IBM System x servers virtualized with Red Hat Enterprise Linux and managed with IBM Systems Director software. The client consolidated its ERP environment onto nine IBM System x3550 M3 servers running the Red Hat Enterprise Linux operating system. The operating system incorporates a KVM hypervisor - allowing multiple virtual operating systems to run on a host platform - which the client employed to virtualize the System x environment.
The partner also helped the client implement IBM Systems Director VMControl Enterprise Edition V2.4 software to manage the virtualized environment and provide advanced levels of usability and visibility. By implementing IBM System x servers virtualized with KVM hypervisor technology and running IBM Systems Director software, the client consolidated the work of 57 previous servers into just nine System x servers - a server reduction of 84%. As a result, the client significantly reduced electricity and space consumption in its data center, greatly simplified IT administration, and gained the scalability to accommodate ongoing business growth.
The Pieces Add Up
With Systems Director and VMControl, you get management of physical and virtual resources from one single pane of glass. Even if you are just embarking on development of a cloud environment in your organization, with SmartCloud Entry, you get an easy on-ramp to the private cloud. And with support for KVM coming soon in SmartCloud Entry, organizations will also be able to gain the additional cost efficiencies of the open source hypervisor in their private cloud environments.
Vice President and Business Line Executive
IBM Systems Software