Part III: PureSystems, something old, something new, something from big blue

April 12, 2012 – 8:30 pm

This is the third in a five-part series around the recent IBM PureSystems announcements. You can view the earlier post here, and the next post here.

IBM PureSystems

So what about the IBM Virtual Appliance Factory?
Where PureFlex and PureApplication (PureSystems) are the platforms or vehicles for enabling your journey to efficient and effective information services delivery, and PureSystem centre (or center for those of you in the US) is the portal or information center, the IBM Virtual Appliance Factory (VAF) is a collection of tools, technologies, processes and methodologies. The VAF  helps developers or ISVs to prepackage applications or solutions for deployment into Kernel Virtual Machine (KVM) on Intel and IBM PowerVM  virtualized environments that are also supported by PureFlex and PureApplication  systems.

VAF technologies include Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF) Open Virtual Alliance (OVA) Open Virtualization Format (OVF) along with other tools for combing operating systems (OS), middleware and solution software into a delivery package or a virtual appliance that can be deployed into cloud and virtualized environments. Benefits include reducing complexity of working logical partions (LPAR) and VM configuration, abstraction and portability for deployment or movement from private to public environments. Net result should be less complexity lowering costs while reducing mean time to install and deploy. Here is a link to learn more about VAF and its capabilities and how to get started.

So what does cloud ready mean?
IBM is touting cloud ready capability in the context of rapid out of the box, ease of deployment and use as well as easy to acquire. This is in line with what others are doing with converged server, storage, networking, hardware, software and hypervisor solutions. IBM is also touting that they are using the same public available products as what they use in their own public services SmartCloud offerings.

So what is scale in vs. scale up, scale out or scale within?
Traditional thinking is that scaling refers to increasing capacity. Scaling also means increasing performance, availability, functionality with stability. Scaling with stability means that as performance, availability, capacity or other features are increased problems are not introduced or complexity is not increased. For example, scaling with stability for performance should not result in loss of availability or capacity, capacity increase should not be at the cost of performance or availability, should not cost performance or capacity and management tools should work for you, instead of you working for them.

Scaling up and scaling out have been used to describe scaling performance, availability, capacity and other attributes beyond the limits of a single system, box or cabinet. For example clustered, cloud, grid and other approaches refer to scaling out or horizontally across different physical resources. Scaling up or scaling vertically means scaling within in a system using faster, denser technologies doing more in the same footprint. HDS announced a while back what they refer to 3D scaling which embraces the above notions of scaling up, out and within across different dimensions. IBM is building on that by emphasizing scaling leveraging faster, denser components such as Power7 and Intel processors to scale within the box or system or node, which can also be scaled out using enhanced networking from IBM and their partners.

So what about backup/restore, BC, DR and general data protection?
I would expect IBM to step up and talk about how they can leverage their data protection and associated management toolsets, technologies and products. IBM has the components (hardware, software) already for backup/restore, BC, DR, data protection and security along with associated service offerings. One would expect IBM to not only come out with a data protection optimized solution or version, as well as ones for archiving or data preservation, compliance appliance variants as well as related themes. We know that IBM has the pieces, people, process and practices, let us see if IBM has learned from their competitors who may have missed data protection messaging opportunities. Sometimes what is assumed to be understood does not get discussed, however often what is assumed and is not understood should be discussed, hence, let us see if IBM does more than say oh yes, we have those capabilities and products too.

So what do these have compared to others who are doing similar things?
Different vendors have taken various approaches for bringing converged products or solutions to the market place. Not surprising, storage centric vendors EMC and NetApp have partnered with Cisco for servers (compute). Where Cisco was known for networking having more recently moved into compute servers, EMC and NetApp are known for storage and moving into converged space with servers. Since EMC and NetApp often compete with storage solutions offerings from traditional server vendors Dell, HP, IBM and Oracle among others, and now Cisco is also competing with those same server vendors it has previously partnered with for networking thus it makes sense for Cisco, EMC and NetApp to partner.

While EMC owns a large share of VMware, they do also support Microsoft and other partners including Citrix. NetApp followed EMC into the converged space partnering with Cisco for compute and networking adding their own storage along with supporting hypervisors from Citrix, Microsoft and VMware along with third-party ISVs including Microsoft and SAP among others. Dell has evolved from reference architectures to products called vStart that leverage their own technologies along with those of partners.

A challenge for Dell however is that vStart  sounds more like a service offering as opposed to a product that they or their VARs and business partners can sell and add value around. HP is also in the converged game as is Oracle among others. With PureSystems IBM is building on what their competitors and in some cases partners are doing by adding and messaging more around the many ISVs and applications that are part of the PureSystems initiative. Rest assured, there is more to PureSystems than simply some new marketing, press releases, videos and talking about partners and ISVs. The following table provides a basic high level comparison of what different vendors are doing or working towards and is not intended to be a comprehensive review.

Who

What

Server

Storage

Network

Software

Other comments

Cisco

UCS

Cisco

Partner

Cisco

Cisco and Partners

Various hypervisors and OS

Dell

vStart

Dell

Dell

Dell and Partners

Dell and partners

Various hypervisors, OS and bundles

EMC
VCE

Vblock VSPEX

Cisco

EMC

Cisco and partners

EMC, Cisco and partners

Various hypervisors, OS and bundles, VSPEX adds more partner solution bundles

HP

Converged

HP

HP

HP and partners

HP and partners

Various hypervisors, OS and bundles

IBM

PureFlex

IBM

IBM

IBM and partners

IBM and partners

Various hypervisors, OS and bundles adding more ISV partners

NetApp

FlexPod

Cisco

NetApp

Cisco and partners

NetApp, Cisco and partners

Various hypervisors, OS and bundles for SAP, Microsoft among others

Oracle

ExaLogic (Exadata  database)

Oracle

Oracle

Partners

Oracle and partners

Various Oracle software tools and technologies

So what took IBM so long compared to others?
Good question, what is the saying? Rome was not built-in a day!

Click here to view the next post in this series, ok, nuff said for now.

Here are some links to learn more:
Various IBM Redbooks and related content
The blame game: Does cloud storage result in data loss?
What do you need when its time to buy a new server?
2012 industry trends perspectives and commentary (predictions)
Convergence: People, Processes, Policies and Products
Buzzword Bingo and Acronym Update V2.011
The function of XaaS(X) Pick a letter
Hard product vs. soft product
Buzzword Bingo and Acronym Update V2.011
Part I: PureSystems, something old, something new, something from big blue
Part II: PureSystems, something old, something new, something from big blue
Part III: PureSystems, something old, something new, something from big blue
Part IV: PureSystems, something old, something new, something from big blue
Part V: PureSystems, something old, something new, something from big blue
Cloud and Virtual Data Storage Networking

Cheers
Gs

Greg Schulz – Author Cloud and Virtual Data Storage Networking (CRC Press, 2011), The Green and Virtual Data Center (CRC Press, 2009), and Resilient Storage Networks (Elsevier, 2004)

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