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Building the Best Shape for Your Cloud

IBM Cloud Management Suite for System z has many key pieces to create a successful system

8/6/2014 1:03:15 AM | This is part two of a two-part series. Read part one here.

It is tempting to jump right in and set up a cloud infrastructure on the System z platform. However, since there are many rich features in the IBM Cloud Management Suite for System z package, it is important to use them to shape a cloud service for your community of users that makes it effective to use and attractive to consume. Also, it should be done in a way that aligns with the IT culture of your company.

In "Cloud Coverage for the Mainframe," I wrote that the IBM Cloud Management Suite for System z package is made up of four main products, including:

Lets look at the features of the key components of the IBM Cloud Management Suite for System z package in the context of the community of designers, programmers, technology practitioners and managers.

Application Designer
The application designer can use the IBM SmartCloud Orchestrator integration with IBM Business Process Manager to create and edit workflows. IBM Business Process Manager is a workflow engine with graphical tooling that can be uses to design workflows that include tools and run-time support for process design, execution, monitoring and optimization of business processes.

Since the IBM SmartCloud Orchestrator application integrates with IBM Business Process Manager, the application designer has the ability to use Process Center to review and manage process applications and toolkits, as well as Process Designer to design and configure workflows including custom extensions to SmartCloud Orchestrator. In addition, pre-built sample artifacts are provided in Business Process Manager to make process creation more straightforward.

The application designer can also make use of the OpenStack adoption that is built into SmartCloud Orchestrator. OpenStack is a cloud operating system that controls collections of compute, storage and networking resources contained in a data center. OpenStack is a global collaboration of developers and cloud computing technologists that are producing an open source cloud-computing platform for public and private clouds. Since IBM SmartCloud Orchestrator supports OpenStack, the application designer immediately has access to the resources of that community enhancing their likelihood for success with their applications.

Also for the application designer, SmartCloud Orchestrator supports importing, deploying and exporting service templates, according to the OASIS Topology and Orchestration Specification for Cloud Applications (TOSCA). TOSCA enables the use of third-party content provided in a standardized format. This openness results in improved management of cloud applications and services across their lifecycle.

TOSCA benefits more than just the application designer. The consumer of the cloud service benefits indirectly from the standardization that TOSCA brings through lower set-up and operational costs from automation. By using a product that supports TOSCA, the application designer speeds delivery of their application by making use of the work already done by supporters and contributors in the OASIS community.

Application Programmer
SmartCloud Orchestrator provides capabilities for orchestration involving multiple tiers like database, application and web. It also provides a graphical orchestrator for the simple implementation of cloud automation. SmartCloud Orchestrator is based on OpenStack software and provides useful flexibility by removing the need to develop specific interfaces for different cloud services. Application programmers can quickly combine and deploy various cloud services onto the cloud infrastructure by specifying the compute, storage and network resources with an easy-to-use graphical interface.

Infrastructure and Application Support Personnel
SmartCloud Orchestrator provides components that simplify image management. These include the Image Construction and Composition Tool and the Virtual Image Library—both useful to support personnel. The Image Construction and Composition Tool is used to build virtual images for deployment into cloud environments. Skilled practitioners can build software bundles for reuse by others. This simplifies the complexity of image creation and reduces errors. You can reuse and manage images and software in a cloud environment and build and share images that are self-descriptive, customizable and manageable.

The Virtual Image Library component provides useful services for image management. It supports VMware and OpenStack operational image repositories. After you define the repository to the Virtual Image Library and index the images that it contains, all the information about the images is stored in the Virtual Image Library database. You have the flexibility to use a local image store, called the reference repository, to save copies of key images from any operational repository or to replicate copies of images from the reference repository to any operational repository. These capabilities enhance the productivity and efficiency of infrastructure and application support personnel.

Support personnel also benefit from the reporting capability of SmartCloud Orchestrator. It provides a diverse set of reports that deliver specific data to support planning activities. System usage reports are generated to track both physical and virtual resource utilization. You can also view reports that track the user activity in the clouds that are supported by SmartCloud Orchestrator.

An intuitive self-service user interface containing a customizable catalog of offerings is available for support personnel and other users. Offerings can be grouped into categories, which are created by administrators to fit the needs of work environment. This self-service activity can be led by or simply supported by infrastructure and application support personnel.

IBM Tivoli Monitoring, which monitors and manages system and network applications, is also part of this solution. IBM Tivoli OMEGAMON XE on z/VM and Linux product are also included. This enables access to z/VM data that is obtained from the Performance Toolkit for VM. It also makes it possible to display views of Linux on System z performance data.

Tivoli Storage Manager is also part of this solution from IBM. Tivoli Storage Manager provides automated, centrally scheduled, policy-managed backup, archive and space-management capabilities for file servers, workstations, virtual machines and applications.

This combination of software provides support personnel with tools to monitor and manage the cloud infrastructure, images and storage.

Line of Business Manager
The line of business (LOB) manager will be interested in cost management. The IBM SmartCloud Cost Management component provides functionality for collecting, analyzing, reporting, and billing that is based on usage and costs of shared computing resources. With this tool, the LOB manager can understand costs and track, allocate and invoice based on allocated or actual resource use by department, user or other criteria.

Deploy the Suite With Confidence
The IBM Cloud Management Suite for System z will help you make the most of the private cloud service that you build and ease the integration with public clouds. It will support you in making the best use of the IT budget that is allocated to new multi-hypervisor cloud infrastructures. It will assist with the productivity of IT staff and help to improve operational efficiency while controlling costs and speeding time to value of your implementation of cloud computing.

Joseph Gulla is the IT leader of Alazar Press, a publisher of children’s literature.

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