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The Value of Workload-Aware Management

Moving clouds past infrastructure

A couple of weeks ago, I dropped by the Intel Developer Forum to present a session and listen in on a few others. As always in these types of shows, I learned quite a bit. Most strikingly though, I was reminded of something that is probably quite obvious to many of you: Consumer interest in cloud computing will not be letting up any time soon.

Based on this, and some of the other things I heard at the show, I decided to catch up with fellow IBMer Marc Haberkorn. Marc is an IBM Product Manager and is responsible for IBM Workload Deployer amongst other things. I asked him about IBM Workload Deployer, the competition, and cloud in general. Check out what Marc had to say below:

Me: IBM Workload Deployer is one among many of a growing wave of cloud management solutions. How do you differentiate the focus and business value of it versus the myriad of other solutions out there?

Marc: To sum it up, we offer a combination of depth and breadth.  IWD delivers both workload aware management and general purpose management.  Workload aware management differentiates IWD from its competition, as it can deliver more value for the set of products for which it has context.  There is a set of actions that workload aware management tools can do that is normally left to the user by general purpose management tools.  This list includes configuring a middleware server to know its hostname/IP address, configuring multiple middleware servers to know of one another, arranging clusters, applying maintenance, and handling elasticity.  By handling more of these activities in the automated flow, there are fewer chances for manual errors and inconsistencies to enter a managed environment.

That said, without infinite resource or time, it's impossible to deliver this context-aware management for everything under the sun.  As such, in order to allow IWD to deliver differentiated value AND allow it to handle a customer's entire environment, we offer a mix of workload-aware management and general purpose management.

Me: VMware is a good example of a company active in the cloud space, and they seem to keep a consistent pace of new product delivery. What do you think of their product development focus?

Marc: I think VMware has built a very compelling set of capability in the virtualization space.  I think the main difference between VMware's suite and IBM Workload Deployer is the perspective from which the environments are managed.  VMware puts the administrator in the position of thinking about infrastructure from the ground up.  The administrator is thinking about virtual images, hypervisors, and scripts.  In IBM Workload Deployer, we think about things from the perspective of the app, because that's ultimately what the business cares about.  By providing a declarative model through which an application can be instantiated and managed, we feel we deliver a deeper value proposition to clients, through workload-aware management.

Me: The 'one tool to do it all' approach is a popular, if not hard to achieve goal. What is your advice to users when it comes to choosing between breadth and depth for cloud management solutions?

Marc: The advantages of a "one tool to do it all" are many: less integration, more uniformity, less complexity.  As such, customers will always prefer a single tool when possible.  This is why IBM Workload Deployer has focused on not only providing differentiated, deeper value for common use cases but also providing a way to handle the "everything else."  As such, my advice to users is not to choose between breadth and depth - use IBM Workload Deployer which offers both.

Me: To close, I'm curious to know where you think we are heading in the cloud market. What do you think users will be most readily adopting over the next one to two years? Where does the cloud industry need the most innovation?

Marc: I think most users are currently looking at the broad picture of cloud computing, and have been adopting primarily in the private cloud realm.  There are several reasons for this.  One reason is that many customers have a large set of hardware resources which amount to sunk cost that needs to be leveraged.  Another reason is around data security concerns in off-premises clouds, and still another reason is around the human factor of comfort, which has taken time to develop around off-premise cloud models.  However, businesses have become increasingly comfortable with various sources of outsourcing in recent years, especially in mission critical areas involving very sensitive data.  Just look at IBM's Strategic Outsourcing business, which handles entire IT operations for many large businesses.  I think that trend will (and really, has already begun to) continue in the area of cloud computing, and will lead to more public and ultimately hybrid cloud computing adoption.  In order to get to hybrid cloud computing, I see much of the focus and innovation being associated with data security, workload portability (across private and public, in a seamless fashion), and license transferability between private and public.  When this space reaches fruition, clients will be able to enjoy true elastic economics in a computing model that allows a mixture of owning and renting compute resources and software licenses.

Me: Thanks Marc!

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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