Ask someone to associate IBM and cloud computing, and that person will probably come back with something about solutions to help build private clouds. I know because I ask… all the time. On the surface, this is a fair association. After all, it is true that IBM offers quite a few different solutions that help users to build both private clouds and on-premise clouds that they then offer up to others (i.e. enabling service providers). However, it does not participate in this cloud delivery model at the expense of other delivery models.
In fact, IBM has a wide-breadth of cloud solutions, including those that fit in private, hybrid, and yes, even public cloud categories. While it may be the case that the private, and thanks to a recent high-profile acquisition, hybrid cloud solutions are the best known of the bunch, it is a misperception to characterize IBM as only focused on this particular side of the spectrum. For that reason, I wanted to provide a quick summary of a particular public cloud offering from IBM.
The offering I am talking about may be lesser-known than some of our private cloud offerings, but it is in fact the kind of solution most think about when they hear the term ‘public cloud.’ What solution am I talking about? Well, the official name is the IBM Smart Business Development and Test on the IBM Cloud, but for brevity’s sake, let’s agree to call it the IBM public cloud in this post. What is it? The website gives the following definition:
IBM Smart Business Development and Test on the IBM Cloud is built on an agile cloud infrastructure that is designed to provide you with rapid access to security-rich, enterprise-class virtual server environments, well suited for development and test activities and other dynamic workloads. Our standardized server environments on the IBM Cloud can help you realize faster application development and deployment with reduced capital and operational costs. You have virtually no infrastructure to maintain and benefit from pay-as-you-go pricing for your development and testing resources. And, you can set up standardized test and other server environments repeatedly in minutes versus weeks, using our highly automated provisioning processes.
Distilling all of that down, the IBM public cloud offers a web-based portal where you can go to launch and manage virtualized environments that run on IBM infrastructure (in the cloud). You use a set of pre-installed, and to a large degree, pre-configured virtual images that enable extremely rapid, highly automated provisioning of meaningful environments. As with many public cloud offerings, you can take advantage of usage-based pricing, and you do not manage the infrastructure supporting your environments.
Having talked with several different users about this offering, one of the first questions I typically get is ‘What kind of environments can I launch in the IBM public cloud?’ Starting at the operating system level, you have a choice of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.4, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11, and Microsoft Windows Server 2003 & 2008 (on a progressive rollout schedule throughout November). If you want to go further and take advantage of virtual images pre-configured with IBM software, you can use the following:
IBM Rational Application Lifecycle Management software
IBM Tivoli Monitoring software
IBM Lotus, WebSphere, DB2 and Informix middleware, such as:
IBM Lotus Web Content Management
IBM WebSphere Portal Server with Lotus Web Content Management
IBM Lotus Forms Turbo
IBM Mashup Center
IBM WebSphere Application Server
IBM WebSphere sMash
IBM DB2 Enterprise Developer Edition
IBM DB2 Express-C
IBM Informix Dynamic Server Developer Edition
CohesiveFT VPN-Cubed DataCenter Connect
Of course, the fact is that everyone needs to customize the environments with which they work. For that reason, you can add your own content to the images out on the IBM public cloud, save those customizations, and store them in your very own private catalog. Once in the catalog, you can share with other users as you see fit.
In addition to offering different pre-configured environments, and offering you the ability to create your own custom environments, there are other features to note regarding the IBM public cloud. This includes, but is not limited to, the following:
Persistent storage: For each virtual machine you create, you have the option of attaching persistent storage in blocks of varying sizes (256 GB, 512 GB, or 2048 GB).
Static IP addresses: You can reserve a set of static IP addresses that you assign to virtual machines launched in the IBM cloud.
VPN services: You can optionally take advantage of VPN services that allow you to run your virtual instances on an isolated network that is only accessible via your VPN gateway.
I mentioned the pay-as-you go pricing model, but you can optionally decide to pay up-front for a reserved set of instances if that is a more suitable model for your usage. In either case, the pricing page contains cost details for the IBM public cloud including instance rates, data transfer rates, persistent storage pricing, static IP and VPN costs, support costs, and software licensing options. To better help you understand these rates in relation to what you are trying to achieve, there is a free online cost estimator tool. You provide the tool information on your anticipated usage (number of instances, uptime, software packages, etc.), and the tool provides an estimated monthly cost to run your environment on the IBM public cloud.
It’s not often that I dedicate a full post to discuss a particular solution, but I wanted to cast a light on some of what IBM is doing in the public cloud space. This is by no means the only thing, but it does align quite nicely with the typical perception of a public cloud. If you want to learn more about the IBM Smart Business Development and Test on the IBM Cloud, you can visit the homepage. To find out more about all the things IBM is doing in the cloud, visit both the main cloud computing site and the IBM developerWorks site for cloud computing.