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IBM cloud management tools aim to facilitate hybrid clouds

Enterprises shooting for a hybrid cloud strategy to deploy workloads get some new ammunition to help access and manage data from services and applications wherever that data resides.

LAS VEGAS -- Helping enterprises to commingle private and public clouds and thus create a unified, enterprise hybrid cloud strategy is at the heart of several new offerings from IBM.

The company released two cloud management tools -- Cloud Automation Manager and Cloud Product Insights -- at its InterConnect 2017 conference here this week. Both aim to provide access to data from various cloud services and applications, regardless of where the data resides, with simplified management and visibility across all cloud environments.

Using IBM's Watson technology, Cloud Automation Manager recommends the best place for a workload. IBM Cloud Product Insights recommends how to get the best usage and cost from tools and services. Whether it's in a public or a private cloud, IT pros want to run workloads in whatever environment makes the most sense.

"There are so many things to balance that really weren't part of the conversation a few years ago," said Mary Johnston Turner, a research vice president at IDC. "It has become more and more complicated to figure out which of those workloads goes where."

Most of the data at Tussa, a Norwegian utility, has a local VMware environment. The utility has started to use the Microsoft Azure public cloud and has developed a hybrid cloud strategy to manage services from its data center, said Vigleik Hustadnes, an infrastructure manager at the company.

A tool such as Cloud Automation Manager could help automatically provision infrastructure across the company's VMware environment, Azure and possibly other clouds in the future, he said after learning about the tool here at the IBM InterConnect event. The tool also integrates with ServiceNow, which Tussa recently deployed, Hustadnes said.

American Airlines is another legacy company with a longtime, dedicated on-premises infrastructure that's now implementing a hybrid cloud strategy. The airline has begun to move some of its most critical applications to the public cloud, including the website, customer mobile app and kiosk app, to give customers and employees real-time information and increase its application delivery velocity, said Daniel Henry, vice president of customer technology in a day one keynote presentation.

But there are still a lot of enterprise workloads -- 44% by IBM's estimate -- that will remain on dedicated servers, said Arvind Krishna, senior vice president for hybrid cloud at IBM and director of IBM Research. For many businesses, it's too disruptive to refactor applications for cloud computing.

To address that side of the equation, IBM has expanded an existing partnership with Red Hat to enable the Red Hat OpenStack Platform and Red Hat Ceph Storage on the IBM Private Cloud. The deal allows Red Hat Linux and OpenStack licenses to move to the public cloud or use Red Hat OpenStack.

The top goal for IT operations professionals is no longer to reduce cost; now, it is to increase business agility, according to a 2016 survey of enterprise IT pros by IDC. They must not only protect and defend data, but also make data accessible to various business processes at any given time. Cloud automation management tools that tie together various platforms can help by reducing infrastructure to code and adding standards and templates.

"We really see that happening across many environments, from applications to middleware and on up," IDC's Turner said.

Robert Gates covers data centers, data center strategies, server technologies, converged and hyper-converged infrastructure and open source operating systems for SearchDataCenter. Follow him on Twitter @RBGatesTT or email him at [email protected].

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