Once in a while I hear people saying that they have a cloud environment at their company, and when I ask what kind of provisioning product they have they say it is VMware or KVM. It seems that the cloud concept sometimes is still being misunderstood because those products are responsible for virtualization, not provisioning.
To have cloud, you need to have virtualization, standardization and provisioning. The road to get there starts with virtualization, which will bring cost reduction for the companies. Standardizing the infrastructure and the workloads is a second step which can bring more savings for the company, but it is still not considered cloud yet. Adding provisioning to it allows the resources to be rapidly available with minimal management effort through deploying automation. At this point we can consider your setup as a cloud environment by deploying an Integrated Service Management through visibility, control and automation.
That is a very simplistic explanation, but it can give an idea how to get to cloud. The provisioning component is one of the most important in cloud computing, since it can add the automation needed to fully become a cloud computing environment.
There are some provisioning products in the market, and I will explain three of those from IBM:
- SmartCloud Entry – It provides basic cloud functions including intuitive self service interface, administration and infrastructure management. It provisions through all most famous hypervisors products. It has a built-in resource usage metering and simple billing. It allows building a simple approval/denial process for provisioning VMs. It allows image creation and manipulation.
- SmartCloud Provisioning – Automated provisioning designed for cloud with parallel scalability and integrated fault tolerance. Advanced image lifecycle management and analytics, Standardized middleware and application deployments. It brings a Simple GUI based Image construction & composition (ICON); a Virtual image library, search, rich analytics, image versioning; a Drag & Drop graphical tool for workload pattern composition; it allows build patterns of composite infrastructure and platform topologies
- IBM Service Delivery Manager – Advanced cloud delivery including service orchestration and runbook automation, monitoring, usage and accounting. It has a self-service portal interface; an automated provisioning engine of resources; an real-time monitoring capability of cloud resources; a metering and chargeback capability; it provides a set of prepackaged automation templates and workflows and it can be deployed on existing hardware for the cloud infrastructure
As you can see I briefly described three products (there are more; and a new one recently announced called IBM SmartCloud Orchestrator) that can be selected based on the environment you have or the level of capabilities you need.
With all the products available it may be difficult to select which one best fit the needs. In my next blog I will explain on which case you select one or another.