Monday, September 9, 2013

IBM SmartCloud Orchestrator – an end-to-end success

IBM recently announced General Availability of IBM SmartCloud Orchestrator (SCO). This is the newest addition to the SmartCloud Foundation solution family of standards-based IT solutions for cloud-enabled data center environments, including private, public or hybrid implementation models. The family currently includes products that enable cloud environments with functions that range from monitoring to management of security, performance, storage, control desk, workload automation, and continuous delivery operations. It also includes the complete family of PureApplication and PureFlex systems.

Figure 1 - Cloud-based service creation
We’ve heard and written about infrastructure orchestration in the past. We endorsed these efforts at automating infrastructure management as a very good thing. However, the vast majority of those orchestration products address only a very limited part of the application and service delivery process. In fact, as illustrated in Figure 1, they have been for the most part limited to addressing the activities of virtual machine provisioning (the part in the red box), not full cloud service provisioning. 

IBM SmartCloud Orchestrator changes all that by automating the orchestration of the full end-to-end cycle of provisioning and deployment of a cloud-based service. This new product enables IT to build and implement the fully-automated, dynamic, flexible, open orchestrated provisioning and deployment of resources, workloads and services.

Over the last few years, we’ve watched and commented about how IBM is building a complete architecture and basis for solutions that are targeted at major problems of IT responsiveness to business demands for faster service design, creation, development, testing, deployment, provisioning and updating. The challenge was magnified by the necessity to be able to run on and use an infrastructure that itself was under-going significant change and modification, not the least being the heterogeneity of cloud environments.

To that end, IBM invested time and effort working with and advancing a range of open-standards groups and organizations (TOSCA- platform services, OpenStack – for infrastructure service and OSLC – for governance services) to provide the necessary critical foundation for integrated management in heterogeneous operating environments. SCO with demonstrated interoperability of open cloud services is a testament to the benefits of and justification for those efforts.

The Final Word

We’ve seen multiple demonstrations of IBM’s SmartCloud Orchestrator. It comes with and has access to a variety of for fee and free workload patterns built for IBM’s PureApplication system. Patterns are usable as is or can be customized, even re-built to uniquely fit your environment. All are reusable and can be combined and extended with pre-built images, process/configuration automation patterns that are available through the Cloud Marketplace. Standardized service development and delivery makes administration and support, as well as development and deployment more efficient, which also lowers cost.

SCO yields benefits across the organization. It speeds the design and deployment of new services and applications, reducing IT costs as it improves efficiency. End-to-end exposure and detailed views of IT processes facilitates and simplifies a process of auditing and updating to eliminate inefficiencies and improve overall performance. 

For the business staff, the result is a reduction in the time-to-market and speeds the development of new services needed by the business staff to respond to and keep up with competition. The relationship between IT and business improves as IT effectiveness and efficiency in responding to business requests for service visibly improves.

IBM SmartCloud Orchestrator combines with the rest of the SmartCloud Foundation to automate and ease the effort required to keep track of the cost of cloud services, monitor and manage their health, as well as monitoring and managing infrastructure provisioning and the capacity used and needed by cloud resources. It sounds like an all-around win for IT and business to us.