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A Cloud With a Brain

CloudBurst 2.1 can help move IT from cost center to revenue source

CloudBurst 2.1 can help move IT from cost center to revenue source
Illustration by Tony Gold

CloudBurst Basics

IBM CloudBurst 2.1 for Power Systems is an integrated product and services suite that combines the benefits of cloud computing with the performance of the POWER7 processor. At the core of CloudBurst lies PowerVM* technology, IBM’s virtualization layer (see “Virtually Perfect” www.ibmsystemsmag.com/power/powervm_virtually_perfect/35182p1.aspx). Additionally, CloudBurst includes the servers, monitoring and management software, and networking products required to create and fully leverage a cloud environment (see “Cloud in a Box”). Rather than squandering IT time trying to specify the right hardware and software stack, enterprises can order a single product.

The approach frees IT staff to focus on mission-critical tasks, because CloudBurst includes not just the box but the brains—with CloudBurst, IBM’s QuickStart team handles the implementation of the cloud environment from start to finish. It not only sets up the hardware and configures the software, but it also conducts comprehensive training of IT staffers and users. “When the QuickStart team leaves, you’re ready to just start deploying your services, whether there’s an application you want to deliver in the cloud or whether you’re having users request resources for test,” Curtis says. “The impact on IT as far as getting everything set up is minimal because that’s all handled by IBM.”

“It’s pretested and that’s really a big benefit,” adds Terri Schlosser, marketing manager, Power Systems solutions. “I’ve talked with customers who’ve spent seven-plus months creating a private cloud environment. They had to do all of the integration work and testing themselves. CloudBurst eliminates that effort.”

A key feature of CloudBurst is a Web 2.0 portal that lets internal customers request services directly from the system. Using a series of menus, they specify the parameters of the virtual machines they need. Then, the CloudBurst software takes over, approving many requests per previously set guidelines, provisioning them automatically and notifying users by e-mail that the process is complete. It all happens without IT intervention in a fraction of the time required by the manual process. “A user can say, ‘I want a system with so much memory and this many CPUs and I need it for the next two weeks starting Monday to do testing,’” Curtis says. “They can do that all through a self-service portal where they can click on what they want.”

With CloudBurst, internal customers get faster turnaround on their requests, helping increase their satisfaction and expedite their work. System administrators no longer lose time manually processing requests. Even better, providing a single repository for cloud services also leads to the standardization of offerings. Instead of supporting several versions of dozens of software packages, companies can choose a specific set of software images to run, which can reduce software-licensing fees, increase availability and slash the amount of staff time spent on support and maintenance.

Automatic provisioning provides fast, consistent, error-free results, both in allocating resources and returning them to the cloud when a project is complete. Because users trust that they will get the computing power they need when they need it, the tendency to hoard CPUs gradually disappears. Perhaps most important, CloudBurst lets system administrators focus on innovative projects that further the enterprise’s goals. With CloudBurst, IT staffs no longer run the risk of missing deadlines on mission-critical tasks because personnel are plunking their way through basic provisioning operations. IT can still use the software to monitor the virtual machine for performance issues, but the day-to-day workload drops radically.

Built-in metering, usage and accounting capabilities provide indispensable tools. In the absence of accountability, demand for IT resources can go through the roof. The tools and processes enabled by CloudBurst let IT departments develop rates based on real use and service costs. Now they can accurately and easily bill internal customers. Suddenly, IT morphs from cost center to revenue center. Detailed reports show how resources are being used and by whom, providing valuable insight when it comes time to upgrade systems.

Reimagine Your Infrastructure

In today’s competitive environment, businesses must run as leanly and effectively as possible. Cloud computing provides a means to do just that. With CloudBurst 2.1 on the Power Systems platform, businesses of every size can take advantage of the many benefits of cloud computing, quickly, easily and economically. Reimagine your infrastructure with CloudBurst.

Kristin Lewotsky is a freelance technology writer based in Amherst, N.H.



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