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Digging deeper into IBM SmartCloud for private clouds

IBM SmartCloud services give enterprises some options to build private and hybrid clouds and may give IBM a chance to improve its lagging cloud image.

IBM has often been seen as the runner up in the cloud computing market, but IBM SmartCloud, which includes components for PaaS and IaaS cloud models, may be what the company needs to shake this stigma. And enterprise cloud architects should understand how these products can help them build private, public and hybrid clouds.

Inside IBM SmartCloud PaaS strategy       
Platform as a Service (PaaS) gives an organization a set of automated and intelligent services and tools that sit on top of the infrastructure. IBM SmartCloud Application Services helps promote cloud-based efficiencies and scalability while allowing admins to customize applications. Cloud application platform services are tuned for enterprise applications and are comprised of five characteristics.

Application lifecycle control. With application lifecycle control, administrators can use the cloud as an integrated tool to see how a specific application behaves in a distributed environment. IT staffs can run application test and development within the cloud environment, giving admins a real-time shared area in which to work. Collaborative services can include agile application planning, change management tasks and software configuration management. With these types of services, developers and administrators can focus on improving application functionality without spending time on the management aspect.

IBM has often been seen as the runner up in the cloud computing market, but SmartCloud  may be what the company needs to shake this stigma.

Application resource sharing. In a development environment, an application may need to access specific types of resources to function. Within the cloud, engineers are able to use centrally housed resources and apply them to any application they may be testing or developing. With these shared resources, developers can reduce the complexity and cost of an application by having resources ready to use. Shared resources may include message routing or a Database as a Service (DaaS) model in which a database becomes available only when needed.

Application deployment. Developers know that deploying an application can be difficult. Often, other factors are involved when an application is launched, including physical resources or other infrastructure needs. With cloud computing, administrators can test and deploy applications without the need for middleware or other environment requirements.

Deploying and managing applications with IBM SmartCloud includes policy-driven automated scaling and management for each application. Developers are also able to work with a mix of environments created for each application type. This diversity allows businesses to further develop application environments without having to worry about internal infrastructure requirements.

Application management. With so many types of different applications, managing them can become a hassle. Being able to work in a single environment allows cloud admins to gain control of the cloud-based application environment. Using IBM SmartCloud, administrators can deploy key applications that have built-in automation and managed services. This gives developers the ability to handle tasks such as change management, application cloning for upgrades and rapid backup of an entire installation as well as any associated data.

Integration synchronization. IBM SmartCloud features a configurable integration engine that can synchronize data and process it with a set of standard or custom application connectors. Developers are able to integrate multiple application sets without having to use custom coding or other manual processes.

Four pillars of IBM SmartCloud IaaS strategy
Organizations understand the benefits of using cloud technologies for resource-intensive tasks, such as testing, application development and pilot launches for large workloads. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) frees up resources, eliminating the need to use multiple servers at a local data center.

IBM SmartCloud IaaS offering includes four features that can make available local resources while using the cloud to expand an existing environment.

Virtual infrastructure. There are two major components of the IBM SmartCloud virtual infrastructure: SmartCloud Enterprise and Enterprise +.  The Enterprise platform is an agile IaaS designed to provide rapid access to enterprise-class virtual server environments. These types of environments are well suited for test-and-development activities and work with other dynamic workloads.

Virtual desktop. Many organizations are looking at virtual desktop infrastructures (VDI) in some form to move away from operating systems at the physical end point. IBM Smart Business Desktop can help companies implement VDI with a range of cloud options. By moving toward a hosted workload platform, administrators can control costs and enable secure access to corporate applications and data that resides at a central location.

Backup and recovery. With any cloud-based environment, backup and recovery of vital systems will always be critical. IBM the SmartCloud has a number of backup and recovery options:

  • SmartCloud Archive provides cloud-based data archiving capability that can index, search, retrieve and store archived content. This type of efficient data management helps organizations use information for enhanced decision-making and regulatory compliance management.
  • SmartCloud managed backup service is currently offered only in the U.S. as Fastprotect online. This feature is designed to offer cost-effective cloud-based data backup and helps provide virtually continuous, scalable protection and restore capabilities. SmartCloud managed backup is ideal for data that’s distributed on servers, desktops and laptops in various geographic locations.
  • SmartCloud Virtualized Server Recovery provides automation and cloud tools that can help speed recovery times and increase the reliability of cloud server recovery. This service supports both physical and virtual machines (VMs) and allows engineers to recover the functions of selected servers on a VM running on cloud infrastructure at the IBM Recovery Center.

Managed cloud security. IBM has three different products for securing a cloud infrastructure.

  • Hosted Application Security is designed to provide an advanced security analysis that helps cloud admins identify and analyze threats.
  • Hosted Mobile Security provides ongoing management to make mobile device security virtually turnkey. This capability helps protect against mobile device theft, malware infection and inappropriate use.
  • Managed Security offers always-on monitoring and management of security technologies housed within a cloud environment. IBM provides a single management console that enables admins to view the entire security infrastructure and mix and match by device type, vendor and service level to meet the needs of an evolving business.

There is no doubt that cloud computing will continue to evolve. Organizations of all sizes will quickly see the benefits of placing part or all of their infrastructures into the cloud. The availability of additional resources, improved bandwidth and more capable hardware facilitates the ability to deliver large workloads.

Cloud technologies allow organizations to grow and expand as needed. This means companies can do more testing and development without having to provision physical or virtual resources locally at the data center level. Pushing workloads into the cloud will help many IT environments develop new technologies and make their infrastructures more efficient.


Bill Kleyman, MBA, MISM, is an avid technologist with experience in network infrastructure management. His engineering work includes large virtualization deployments as well as business network design and implementation. Currently, he is a Virtualization Solutions Architect at MTM Technologies, a national IT consulting firm.



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