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IBM Cloud Manager ties OpenStack to servers

IBM hopes its Cloud Manager makes it easier for corporate users to tie its hardware servers to cloud platforms such as SoftLayer.

IBM is betting its deeper support of open technologies will make it easier for IT shops to port applications to open environments, as well as gravitate to cloud computing models.

Big Blue took another step toward tying its core hardware platforms to its cloud-based infrastructure products with IBM Cloud Manager, which offers IT pros access to the complete set of OpenStack APIs.

Some industry observers believe IBM is pushing Cloud Manager and other recent products, such as BlueMix, that ascribe to open standards due to outside pressure.

"[Cloud Manager] is one more indication IBM is serious about making software like this interoperable with everybody else's," said Frank Dzubeck, president of Communication Network Architects, consultants in Washington, D.C. "But it is also because customers increasingly are telling them if they don't, there may not be as much reason to continue buying IBM."

One long-time IBM user is heartened the company continues to work with competitors by supporting open standards and open source technologies, especially those that integrate data stored on proprietary platforms with data generated by Web-based applications.

"It kills them to officially partner with an Amazon or Microsoft, but they are most certainly making accommodations in their products under the covers so [its] servers' hardware work with what other companies have out there,'' said a creative director with an Australia-based ad agency.

IBM Cloud Manager plays nice with competitor clouds

The improved vendor interoperability with Cloud Manager should give users interested in growing OpenStack more confidence to use it in their infrastructure today, said Jeff Borek, worldwide program manager for cloud computing in IBM's Systems and Technology group.

"If they want to change it out for another offering, the compatibility with OpenStack makes it relatively easy to do," he said.

IBM Cloud Manager, built on IBM's SmartCloud Entry product, is better equipped to offer private clouds through improved security usage, tracking, metering and multi-architecture management, according to IBM. The tool can also keep IT informed about virtual server sprawl.

"With this product [data center managers] can more effectively automate the key functions of servers and set up expiration dates for some of the virtual images," IBM's Borek said. "So if a server falls fallow, it can automatically be decommissioned -- freeing up resources for other compute purposes."

IBM also delivered in beta a hybrid cloud platform to run on the IBM Cloud Manager with OpenStack. Workloads that require additional resources can expand from an on-premises cloud to remote infrastructure on SoftLayer. This gives customers a way to perform self-service provisioning of IT services across multiple environments.

"It can take the capabilities you obtain when you spin up a cloud with Cloud Manager and allows you to connect with, or burst out to, third-party cloud providers," Borek said.

Users can still pursue a hybrid cloud with the version of Cloud Manager available now but most users would have to work with IBM's support organization to make that happen, Borek said.

"It will take a lab services engagement right now to bring [a hybrid cloud] to fruition, but at some future point users can use it as an out-of-the-box hybrid solution," Borek said.

Ed Scannell is senior executive editor for TechTarget's Data Center and Virtualization media group. He can be reached at 

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