Many Struggle With The Challenges of Moving to The Cloud

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2012-04-11

IBM Launches New Expert Integrated PureSystems in Major IT Shift

IBM (NYSE:IBM) announced a major step forward in a new, simpler era of computing with the introduction of a new category of "expert integrated systems" that some say represents as big a move for the company as when it introduced the mainframe 50 years ago.

Ambuj Goyal, general manager of development in IBM€™s Systems and Technology Group, told eWEEK the new family of systems is the first with built-in expertise based on IBM's decades of experience running IT operations for tens of thousands of clients in 170 countries.

IBM€™s expert integrated systems family€“PureSystems€“is the result of $2 billion in R&D and acquisitions over four years, an unprecedented move by IBM to integrate all IT elements, both physical and virtual. The acquisitions included Platform Computing, Blade Network technologies and others.

The new systems family offers IBM customers a clean break from today€™s enterprise computing model, where multiple and disparate systems require significant resources to set up and maintain. The PureSystems PureFlex integrates server, storage and networking resources into one highly automated and secure, simple-to-manage machine. The PureSystems PureApplication makes use of the first repeatable software patterns and industry-specific processes from IBM, drawn from decades of IBM's expert work with clients and business partners.

€œFrom an IBM perspective, in my lifetime, I have not seen so much of IBM all behind one thing with software, hardware and services; it€™s like 50 years ago when we announced the mainframe,€ Goyal said €œIn many ways, it is as big as that, but designed for a different world.€

For over a century, IBM has introduced new technology to meet business challenges. The prime challenge facing companies worldwide is the need to spend 70 percent or more of their IT budgets on simple operations and maintenance, leaving little to invest in innovation. Two-thirds of corporate IT projects are delivered over budget and behind schedule, according to a recent study by IBM and IDC, which also found that only one in five corporate IT departments are able to devote time and money to innovation.

The time, effort and skills needed to architect, procure and deploy the infrastructure for a typical Web application, for example, can be extensive; it can take six months or more at present. With PureSystems, that same task can be completed in less than 10 days, IBM said. The reasons are: built-in operational expertise; deep integration of servers, storage and networking for improved IT management; alignment of software, applications, middleware and hardware; and built-in support for cloud computing.

€œIBM€™s PureFlex System incorporates the expertise from thousands of client engagements and represents an important advance in the evolution of computing,€ said Rod Adkins, senior vice president, IBM Systems & Technology Group, in a statement. €œThis is the type of engineering that can remove much of the complexity that organizations face in adopting information technology. PureFlex will help clients to free up time and money to focus on innovation that many businesses cannot address due to ever-rising costs and staffing needs in the traditional data center.€

IBM integrated all the critical pieces required in today€™s data center: networking, storage, compute, management and more. The result is a system that is intuitive to set up and far less expensive to maintain. For example, PureSystems can go from its single shipping crate to being up and running in one-third the time of today€™s technology.

This type of deep integration enables PureSystems to automatically scale systems such as compute resources, networking and storage virtually instantly. Each PureSystems chassis can be split into thousands of virtual machines€”up to twice the density of previous systems€”resulting in 43 percent energy savings. PureSystems€™ automated and highly virtualized storage layer can be provisioned 98 percent faster and provide a 45 percent savings in budget costs. IBM PureSystems can be managed from a single console.

For example, the Watson computer system that won the "Jeopardy" quiz show ran on 10 racks of Power7 processors. With the PureSystems technology, the same amount of processing power can run in four racks of Power7 processors, Goyal said. €œSo you can start consolidating workloads. There is amazing density in this technology, and you can run it as an appliance.€

At the center of the new PureSystems is a new software capability that enables operational know-how and expertise to be built directly into the systems. Called Patterns of Expertise, this first-of-a-kind approach converts technology expertise into reusable, downloadable packages. Patterns are available in three categories:

  • IBM Patterns: Built-in at the factory and created based on knowledge gleaned from IBM€™s top IT managers, engineers and technology experts, these sets of patterns automate time-consuming tasks such as configurations, deployment and ongoing upgrades. Applications that used to take days to deploy can now be rolled out in 10 minutes.
  • ISV Patterns: IBM has teamed with more than 100 independent software vendors to offer applications that are certified €œPureSystems-ready.€ PureSystems€™ online catalog of ISV Patterns radically simplifies how applications are deployed and managed. For example, a customer relationship management program that used to take three days to deploy can now be deployed in under an hour.
  • Customer Patterns: IT organizations can package the knowledge of their own handcrafted applications into a Pattern. As a result, a company that is interested in expanding into new markets can do so even when skills are not readily available in new regions or markets.

Many Struggle With The Challenges of Moving to The Cloud

A recent IBM Institute for Business Value study found that 90 percent of organizations expect to adopt or substantially deploy a cloud model in the next three years. Despite the interest in moving to a cloud computing model, many organizations are still grappling with challenges such as integrating the right pieces, addressing security and controlling usage of the technology.

With PureSystems, IBM is taking the step to completely integrate all of the technology components needed to stand up a private cloud system in minutes. By combining the virtualized servers, storage and networking found in PureSystems with cloud management software, IT organizations have a ready-to-go €œcloud system in a box,€ giving them a foundational private cloud environment that can be expanded.

To significantly accelerate the use of the cloud, IBM has included a cloud self-service interface directly into PureSystems, whereby an application developer from the marketing department, for example, can use the self-service feature to configure a cloud environment application without any help from the IT department. PureSystems will sense and respond to the needs of the running applications and services and make decisions on how best to deploy IT resources while ensuring maximum efficiency, performance and control, IBM said. 

Additionally, PureSystems is also using some of the same foundational technologies and software used in IBM€™s public SmartCloud Services offerings. As a result, by sharing common capabilities and interfaces, application developers can use IBM SmartCloud Services to create and test new applications, and move them over to the private cloud that has been created using PureSystems. Going forward, IBM plans to create even tighter linkages to IBM SmartCloud to enable clients to fully realize their hybrid cloud strategy. For example, clients may want to automatically support peak load overflow by drawing upon IBM SmartCloud resources to augment their PureSystems based private clouds.

PureSystems is available in Power7 processor- and Intel-processor compute nodes and supports four operating environments. Two models are available immediately€”the PureSystems PureFlex configuration and the PureSystems PureApplication configuration, which includes some middleware like IBM€™s WebSphere.

€œThese are just the first two out of the blocks; you can expect us down the road to offer different systems with such things as an analytics focus, a big data focus and more,€ Goyal told eWEEK.

IBM pre-announced these new systems at an IBM Smarter Computing event in March.


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