Up in the Cloud and what makes it hot. Insights from Snehal Antani
Shaku Selvakumar 060001XT47 firstname.lastname@example.org | | Tags:  virtualization websphere_user_group soa websphere cloud computing
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Snehal Antani is the Business Strategy Lead & Product Manager for WebSphere Cloud & Virtualization Technologies. He is a passionate technologist with expertise and 10 years of experience in the domain of enterprise application infrastructure. Snehal is a recognized thought leader and subject matter expert for batch processing, cloud computing, virtualization, and high-volume transaction processing technologies.
In this interview with Kathleen Holm (@kmholm), Snehal discusses building clouds with WebSphere.
Snehal, there’s been a lot of talk out there about cloud for some time now. What is cloud and why is it such a hot topic?
I think a customer got it right when he joked at Impact, “At one point it was all about on-demand, then it was green, then it was SOA, and now it’s apparently Cloud- all the while it’s about driving more efficiencies.”
When we get away from all the marketing hype out there, cloud computing is a way to drive efficiency. It’s a Services Oriented Approach to infrastructure, middleware and applications that enables IT to be delivered as a service in a way where users see only the service, and have no need to know anything about the technology or implementation.
Can you talk a bit more about how we got where we are today?
Sure, in many ways, cloud computing can be compared to SOA because they share so many similarities. Pre-SOA applications tended to be monolithic and inflexible. SOA decomposed those huge applications into reusable services, eliminating a lot of redundancy and improving time to value.
Data centers are faced with similar challenges. They support many environments that do different things but have a lot of overlapping redundancies. Cloud decomposes IT into three areas--application services, infrastructure services and middleware services. This enables more flexibility and new delivery models, allowing organization to respond quickly to new demands. Decomposing IT and standardizing service interactions across applications, middleware, and infrastructure gives customers a new set of deployment choices.
What’s the WebSphere perspective on cloud?
WebSphere & cloud computing has three main pillars. The first pillar is made up of the building blocks or pieces needed to make a cloud. IBM supplies the pieces—hardware, software, networking, storage and so on--needed to build a cloud. WebSphere in particular provides capabilities around virtualization & automation, runtime management, cloud-enabled applications, dynamic infrastructure services, security services, and integration services.
The second pillar is made up of middleware services, where WebSphere services like the Application Server, WebSphere eXtreme Scale, WebSphere sMash, and other technologies are made available as-a-Service via partner cloud providers like Amazon EC2 as well as the IBM Cloud.
The third pillar is hybrid cloud connectivity. This involves offerings used to integrate, govern and manage services across enterprises. The Cast Iron acquisition combined with the DataPower platform and other technologies within the connectivity suite play a key role here.
There are many reasons why more and more companies are shifting toward IT solutions that include cloud computing. Cloud computing can reduce the cost of owning and operating enterprise applications and middleware. Many customers spend time installing, configuring, integrating, and maintaining application infrastructures; where they execute tasks that don’t really deliver a lot of business value. Cloud computing changes the game, and enables customers to consume middleware in new ways. Customers are realizing several benefits, including lowering both operational and capital expenses, capturing new business opportunities with as-a-Service business models, and accelerating time-to-value.
What are you seeing out there? Are customers ready for cloud?
Your question makes me think of another good line I heard at Impact--“The difference between those who say mainframe and those who say cloud is the year they were born.”
We’re seeing an ongoing infrastructure evolution. Organizations are moving from silo’d, decentralized, dedicated systems to centralized, shared environments. They start by virtualizing their hardware, consolidating systems and sharing resources to lower capital expenses. After virtualizing, they standardize as much of the stack as possible: hardware architectures, networking architectures, middleware components, and middleware topologies. After virtualizing and standardizing, they invest in automating as much as possible, freeing up their administrators and thus lowering operational expenses. Cloud evolves this thought, driving additional resource sharing through infrastructure as-a-Service, standardized middleware & optimized service delivery through platform as-a-Service, and finally integrating higher-value application services. These new infrastructures are simply more intelligent, scalable, and agile.
What is the road map for an enterprise architect who wants to pursue the cloud?
It’s more than just buying products--customers must establish operational and application development disciplines.
Every customer has to start by assessing their maturity in a number of areas to determine their next steps in pursuing the cloud. These steps include evaluating where they are in terms of virtualization, standardization and automation; runtime management; cloud enabled applications; dynamic infrastructures; security services and connectivity services.
It’s different for each customer. Some customers are very mature in virtualization and automation and at the same time have applications that are poorly written for cloud. Other customers have cloud-ready applications but do not have the security domains in place to prevent security breach exposures.
How do you build a cloud?
The first question to ask is where does you data have to exist? Does it have to be within the boundaries of your data center or can it be in a public cloud? The location of enterprise data dictates whether a private, public or hybrid cloud is the right option.
Next, you have to establish infrastructure services to optimize the hardware layer. This involves physical assets such as servers, network devices and storage disks offered as provisioned service to consumers. Virtualization is often used to provide the on-demand rationing of physical resources. Examples of infrastructure services include IBM BlueHouse, VMWare, Tivoli Service Automation Manager (TSAM), VMControl for System z & System p, and so on.
The next step is to deploy middleware services combined with intelligent management to manage workloads in the cloud. This involves allocating resources appropriately to support high priority applications as dictated by business objectives and meet service-level agreement requirements.
In the past, customers knew how many boxes they had and how much they had to pay every quarter for their infrastructure services. In highly virtualized systems, cloud-wide chargeback and security management is needed to track who uses what resources so users can be billed accordingly.
What is WebSphere doing to help support the service-based approach to the various layers of the cloud?
IBM Software delivers proven technologies & services to support the entire lifecycle of a cloud solution.
WebSphere Cloudburst Appliance provides capabilities for Virtualization, Automation, where the technology enables speed, consistency, and repeatability for deployment middleware topologies. WebSphere Virtual Enterprise creates dynamic application infrastructures, where application resources can be throttled to meet demand. WebSphere eXtreme Scale provides game-changing technology in elastic applications, caching, and data management. WebSphere Compute Grid enables elastic batch applications, where the technology can parallelize batch workloads and leverage the available resources in the cloud. All of these capabilities extend WebSphere Application Server, and are further enhanced by capabilities provided by Tivoli and Information Management. Ultimately, these technologies enable customers to be more responsive, more optimized, more agile, and more resilient application infrastructures.
When implemented thoughtfully and effectively, cloud computing can help companies lower the cost of delivering IT services and help companies build competitive advantage.
Webcast title: “Enabling Cloud Computing with WebSphere”
Speakers: Don Boulia, Director, Product Management, IBM WebSphere Software
Snehal Antani, Business Strategy Lead & Product Manager, IBM WebSphere Cloud & Virtualization Technologies
September 7, 2010 at 11:00 AM EST
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