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Are You Looking For Open Cloud Solutions?

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In life, occasionally it is refreshing to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. In the context of cloud computing, it is imperative that you do this quite often. While it is easy to be focused and locked into a particular segment of the cloud, as I often do with PaaS, users are viewing the cloud in a holistic sense. Sure, they are interested in solutions that target a particular layer of the cloud, but just as important to understand is that they are interested in how all of these solutions come together with each other and existing IT systems for an integrated and orchestrated approach.

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Obviously, vendors should design their offerings with this user expectation in mind. I had the chance to attend the IBM Pulse event this week in Las Vegas, and my trip only served to reinforce to me the importance of integration in the cloud.

The IBM Pulse event is an annual conference put on by IBM Tivoli, and it highlights the service management capabilities of the brand. Just about anything you have in your IT landscape including servers, storage, network infrastructure, virtual machines, applications, etc., can be managed and monitored by IBM Tivoli solutions. This type of robust and prevalent management and monitoring is essential towards enabling a holistic private or public cloud approach.

In particular, I was at the conference to talk about the WebSphere CloudBurst Appliance and some of its integration stories with IBM Tivoli products. WebSphere CloudBurst is a solution focused on enabling users to create, deploy, and manage WebSphere application environments in an on-premise cloud. The appliance provides a rapid time-to-value for constructing and managing WebSphere environments in a cloud, but IBM's users do not deal with only WebSphere in their data centers. Chances are good that if they are embarking down an approach to provisioning and managing cloud environments, they want capabilities that enable them to create a diverse environment. Enter the Tivoli Service Automation Manager, which allows users to provision and manage highly heterogeneous services for their cloud environments (one can easily use the Tivoli Service Automation Manager to provision and manage non-cloud environments as well).

From a user's standpoint, when both are being used to deliver a cloud environment, WebSphere CloudBurst must be integrated into the more broadly-purposed provisioning and management capabilities offered by Tivoli Service Automation Manager. Otherwise, one must interact with multiple points of control for cloud provisioning and management, and consumability of the solution rapidly degrades. This is where the open RESTful API provided by WebSphere CloudBurst comes in handy. This allows the Tivoli Service Automation Manager to interact with WebSphere CloudBurst in a loosely coupled, distributed manner, and leverage the function of the appliance to provision and manage WebSphere application environments in an on-premise cloud. For the user, it means they can harness the functionality of both WebSphere CloudBurst and Tivoli Service Automation Manager from a single interface.

Integration via WebSphere CloudBurst's RESTful layer is not limited solely to the Tivoli Service Automation Manager. The API is open to any thing or process, thus meaning users have a wealth of options. This openness with respect to cloud environments is crucial. Without it, users are left trying to deal with multiple points of cloud control, which isn't scalable, or they are forced into buying tightly integrated, often inflexible solutions from a single vendor. From the consumer standpoint, neither of these options is particularly appealing.

If you are out there looking at cloud solutions, add the requirement of openness to your ‘must-have' list. Even if you do not necessarily see the need for the solution to be open in your current environment, chances are at some point down the road you will look to integrate it into another process or workflow. When it comes time to do that, you will congratulate yourself for your foresight!

More Stories By Dustin Amrhein

Dustin Amrhein joined IBM as a member of the development team for WebSphere Application Server. While in that position, he worked on the development of Web services infrastructure and Web services programming models. In his current role, Dustin is a technical specialist for cloud, mobile, and data grid technology in IBM's WebSphere portfolio. He blogs at http://dustinamrhein.ulitzer.com. You can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/damrhein.

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