IBM Cloud Private – What it Means and Why it Matters to Enterprises

By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc.  November 1, 2017

A significant disconnect exists in the public perception of cloud computing customers and end users—namely in how enterprises are served by the likes of public cloud players, including AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud and IBM Cloud.

Why is that notable? For two reasons. Since large organizations are far better funded than small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs), they are obviously attractive targets for cloud providers. But at the same time, enterprises have discretely different and far more robust computing needs.

So, while companies of every size can adopt conventional cloud offerings, those services aren’t appropriate for every application or scenario. That’s especially true for large private and public-sector organizations that face demanding compute and regulatory requirements, like healthcare and finance companies.

They typically support their most business-critical applications and data with robust, secure, on-premises systems. But that places them in a quandary if they wish to maintain the best aspects of their traditional infrastructures while gaining public cloud’s easy-to-use benefits, plus cloud-native integration and portability features, and access to new development tools and paradigms.

An approach many are taking is to deploy “private clouds” that blend the best of both worlds. In fact, IBM estimates that starting in 2017 companies will spend more than $50B annually to create and evolve private clouds, with growth rates of 15%-20% through 2020. Speeding and simplifying that process is central to IBM’s new Cloud Private platform.

The race for enterprise cloud

Before getting into IBM Cloud Private, how suited is the company to deliver private cloud solutions? Very well, by any measure. IBM’s ability to develop and serve the computing needs of large organizations is so deeply ingrained that competitors often ding the company for its enterprise focus. That is, until said competitors decide to go after those same customers.

That’s clearly been the case with AWS, Google and Microsoft, all of which regularly tout their cloud offerings’ enterprise class capabilities and features. Additionally, the growing interest in private cloud hasn’t escaped the trio. In July, for example, Microsoft introduced an Azure Stack solution leveraging its system vendor partners’ hardware for deploying and managing integrated private cloud infrastructures.

Due to the depth of its solution portfolios, and longtime support of emerging technologies and open source projects, IBM is taking a different approach to private cloud that hinges on the fact that its offerings and services are already used by tens of thousands of enterprise clients worldwide. IBM’s middleware offers good examples: 22 of the 25 largest global banks utilize IBM’s Db2 database solutions; 90% of Fortune 100 companies deploy IBM Websphere; and 70% of Global 500 companies use IBM’s high-speed MQ messaging platform.

In other words, rather than having to adopt sometimes unfamiliar, often entirely new services and features, with Cloud Private the company is instead offering customers an opportunity to leverage their experience and investments with IBM to make the deployment, management and use of private cloud and cloud-native development simple and seamless.

Features and functions

So what exactly do these new solutions provide to enterprise customers? According to IBM, Cloud Private’s key features include:

  • Infrastructure choice – Cloud Private is compatible with systems from manufacturers including Cisco, Dell EMC, Intel, Lenovo and NetApp. The solutions are also optimized for IBM Z Systems mainframes, IBM Power Systems, IBM Hyperconverged Systems powered by Nutanix software, and IBM Storage’s Spectrum Access data management and infrastructure solutions. Cloud Private can be deployed via VMware, Canonical and other OpenStack distributions or on baremetal servers.
  • Core cloud platform – Leveraging the most common PaaS technologies and developer runtimes, the platform includes cloud-native features, including a container engine, Kubernetes orchestration, Cloud Foundry, and essential, fully integrated and automated management tools.
  • Data and analytics – IBM Cloud Private supports developer services for IBM Db2, IBM Db2 Warehouse, PostgreSQL and MongoDB advanced analytics capabilities.
  • Differentiated application and integration services – The platform is available on-premises and can be complemented with public cloud services, as well as new containerized versions of software and development frameworks. Those include IBM WebSphere, Open Liberty, MQ, and Microservice Builder which provide developers the tools to build, manage and support sophisticated applications. Also included are integration services for API and service interoperability spanning multiple public clouds.
  • Developer tools – Cloud Private enables access to management and DevOps tools, including APM, Netcool, UrbanCode and Cloud Brokerage, that can be used to manage the lifecycle of workloads across any cloud environment. The platform also supports popular open-source management tools, such as Jenkins, Prometheus, Grafana, and ElasticSearch.

Finally, IBM Cloud Private supports key management and security features, including quickly and easily launching, monitoring and managing services across multi-cloud environments, automated security and vulnerability detection and alerts, encryption of data in flight and strict user access controls.

Final analysis

It’s reasonable to consider Cloud Private to be a natural and necessary step in the evolution of IBM Cloud’s service and solution portfolio. In essence, the company has used its considerable software chops to add robust, yet simple to use and manage private cloud functions and cloud-native features to core IBM enterprise platforms and solutions.

In addition, rather than being a homogeneous, proprietary offering, IBM Cloud Private leverages popular developer-facing technologies, including Kuberbnetes, Docker and CloudFoundry. Though enterprise customers can capture additional benefits by leveraging their IBM Z Systems, Power Systems and IBM Storage infrastructures, Cloud Private also supports Intel-based hardware offerings from other system vendors, and can be deployed via VMware, Canonical and OpenStack distributions.

Overall, along with delivering significant new innovations, Cloud Private also extends the value of customers’ IBM investments and is designed to meet the demands of modern heterogeneous IT infrastructures. In IBM Cloud Private, organizations finally have access to a private cloud platform and solutions that address all of their most demanding, business critical requirements.

© 2017 Pund-IT, Inc. All rights reserved.