IBM Cloud Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Stefan Bernbo

Related Topics: IBM Cloud, Linux Containers, Containers Expo Blog, @CloudExpo

IBM Cloud: Blog Post

Do Appliances Have A Role in Cloud's Evolution?

Exploring the purpose-built nature of appliances and the tie to cloud

Recently, I read an interview with fellow IBMer, Bruce Otte, in which he laid out IBM's Roadmap to ‘Smart Clouds' by highlighting five key areas. I'm not going to enumerate those here, if you are interested you can check out the interview, but there is one thing that especially caught my eye: the notion of cloud appliances.

Even before my day job revolved around one of our cloud appliance offerings, the idea of cloud appliances, and actually just appliances in general, intrigued me. Coming from a background that was decidedly hardware agnostic, which is not very uncommon when you are developing application infrastructure software, the thought of combining software with fit-for-purpose, enhanced hardware was a bit foreign. Further, since I spent my days (and nights) developing application middleware that was targeted to run anywhere and support untold variations of usage scenarios, the idea of a device built for a very narrow set of usage scenarios was completely foreign. Quite honestly, I did not understand the appeal of appliances at first.

Fast-forwarding to now, after a year and a half of chatting with users about an appliance, my views are quite different. To be clear, my views are not different because they have to be. My views are different because of the direct feedback I get from users that leverage these kinds of appliance in their enterprise. By distilling what I hear from users, a majority of the value of an appliance seems to owe to its built-for-purpose nature (important to note that this feedback is usually in the context of our various WebSphere appliances).

Appliances intentionally support a constrained set of usage scenarios. On the surface, this may seem bad, especially to those who immerse themselves in the ‘One tool to do it all' mindset, but that is clearly not the case. First, because the appliance tackles specific usage scenarios, optimization at the software/hardware integration layer is possible. Implemented correctly, the result is performance hard to match by traditionally installed software.

Additionally, because providers build appliances for purpose, they can load the devices with out-of-the-box goodness. Consider appliances that provide data transformation capabilities. Many times, these types of appliances come with assets that handle transforming data from one format to another without the need for any kind of user coding or scripting. Any built-in expertise is an advantage and a bump in time to value, because it means users do not invest initial development resource, or ongoing maintenance resource, to provide these capabilities.

This is not all that I hear from users regarding value derived from appliances' purpose-built nature. Users like the hardened approach to security resulting from being able to do things such as dedicating hardware within the appliance for security processing or decreasing attack surfaces by only initiating critical processes. They enjoy the user consumability afforded by appliances. They do not have month's worth of features to learn, rather a narrow set of functionality to learn and exploit. Quite simply, in a world full of born skeptics, there seems to be a real soft spot for appliances.

All of this brings me back to Bruce's interview and his mention of cloud/cloud-enabling appliances. I cannot help but wonder if appliances will become a central, de-facto part of cloud architectures (or maybe they already are)? Certainly, the affinity of typical issues faced in the cloud (connectivity, resource management, data integration and management), towards purpose-built appliances seems strong.  In addition, the purpose-built nature of appliances really looks like a microcosm of the *aas trend that we see in cloud. Essentially, these appliances provide some type of functionality as a service, with little effort on the user's part. So, what do you think? Will appliances be an integral part of cloud computing going forward?

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.

IoT & Smart Cities Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that IoT Global Network has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 6–8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. The IoT Global Network is a platform where you can connect with industry experts and network across the IoT community to build the successful IoT business of the future.
CloudEXPO New York 2018, colocated with DXWorldEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City and will bring together Cloud Computing, FinTech and Blockchain, Digital Transformation, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, AI, Machine Learning and WebRTC to one location.
Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settlement products to hedge funds and investment banks. After, he co-founded a revenue cycle management company where he learned about Bitcoin and eventually Ethereal. Andrew's role at ConsenSys Enterprise is a mul...
The best way to leverage your Cloud Expo presence as a sponsor and exhibitor is to plan your news announcements around our events. The press covering Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo will have access to these releases and will amplify your news announcements. More than two dozen Cloud companies either set deals at our shows or have announced their mergers and acquisitions at Cloud Expo. Product announcements during our show provide your company with the most reach through our targeted audiences.
DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO are the world's most influential, independent events where Cloud Computing was coined and where technology buyers and vendors meet to experience and discuss the big picture of Digital Transformation and all of the strategies, tactics, and tools they need to realize their goals. Sponsors of DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO benefit from unmatched branding, profile building and lead generation opportunities.
Disruption, Innovation, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, Leadership and Management hear these words all day every day... lofty goals but how do we make it real? Add to that, that simply put, people don't like change. But what if we could implement and utilize these enterprise tools in a fast and "Non-Disruptive" way, enabling us to glean insights about our business, identify and reduce exposure, risk and liability, and secure business continuity?
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that Telecom Reseller has been named "Media Sponsor" of CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO 2018 New York, which will take place on November 11-13, 2018 in New York City, NY. Telecom Reseller reports on Unified Communications, UCaaS, BPaaS for enterprise and SMBs. They report extensively on both customer premises based solutions such as IP-PBX as well as cloud based and hosted platforms.
Digital Transformation: Preparing Cloud & IoT Security for the Age of Artificial Intelligence. As automation and artificial intelligence (AI) power solution development and delivery, many businesses need to build backend cloud capabilities. Well-poised organizations, marketing smart devices with AI and BlockChain capabilities prepare to refine compliance and regulatory capabilities in 2018. Volumes of health, financial, technical and privacy data, along with tightening compliance requirements by...
In this Women in Technology Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo, moderated by Anne Plese, Senior Consultant, Cloud Product Marketing at Verizon Enterprise, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO at MetraTech; Evelyn de Souza, Data Privacy and Compliance Strategy Leader at Cisco Systems; Seema Jethani, Director of Product Management at Basho Technologies; Victoria Livschitz, CEO of Qubell Inc.; Anne Hungate, Senior Director of Software Quality at DIRECTV, discussed what path they took to find their spot within the tec...
To Really Work for Enterprises, MultiCloud Adoption Requires Far Better and Inclusive Cloud Monitoring and Cost Management … But How? Overwhelmingly, even as enterprises have adopted cloud computing and are expanding to multi-cloud computing, IT leaders remain concerned about how to monitor, manage and control costs across hybrid and multi-cloud deployments. It’s clear that traditional IT monitoring and management approaches, designed after all for on-premises data centers, are falling short in ...