IBM Workload Deployer (IWD) is a private cloud hardware appliance that provides access to SOA middleware components, virtual images, and patterns. Do people really need appliances? What does this appliance do that makes it compelling for users?
There are many ways to make the case for appliances, but I like to keep it simple. When I make the decision to purchase a car, I don’t buy the motor, transmission, carburetor, battery, tires, and other components separately and then assemble it all in my garage. I buy a pre-built machine specifically built for the purpose of getting me from one place to another. Appliances offer the same model of consumption for IT buyers. Instead of buying servers, storage, switches, and software separately, you can buy a pre-integrated device that has been optimized for a specific set of use cases. IBM Workload Deployer is a cloud management device that fits the appliance bill in every way. Its purpose in life is to make the act of creating, deploying, and managing workloads in a private cloud, and it does this via a combination of integrated management components and pre-built, cloud-ready content. This means that users of IBM Workload Deployer benefit from significantly accelerated time to value when building their private clouds.
What is the value of easily, quickly and repeatedly creating application environments that can be securely deployed and managed in a private cloud?
Users across the industry have spoken loud and clear about the pains involved in creating and managing their application environments. Namely, the environments take too long to install and they are too hard to correctly configure. These two root causes manifests themselves in the form of inefficient use of existing resource, lack of organizational agility, and slower time to market. The pattern-based approach and rapid deployment capabilities of IBM Workload Deployer mean that companies can quickly and easily configure the application environments that they need to support their business. The result is greater utilization of existing resource, increased agility, and perhaps most importantly, faster time to market for new services.
Time to market is one of the things you mention. This seems kind of elusive in terms of providing a measurable benefit. Why does this matter? Do you have any numbers on this? Do people sell more if they get to the market quicker? Do they achieve competitive advantage? How do you measure this?
I actually believe this is easier to see than we may think. In today’s hyper-competitive economy, you either get services to consumers in a timely manner or you watch your competitors do it. You are either the first to market with a new service, or you play catch up. There are many examples of this, but the one that I think resonates most clearly at this point in time is the smart phone market. A particular provider has been consistently at the forefront of innovation in this market, and they have reaped the rewards that come along with being the recognized industry leader. I think organizations in every industry can learn quite a bit from the way the smart phone market has played out in front of us. That said, in order to consistently deliver meaningful new services, IT organizations have to be in a position to move as fast as consumer demand. Technologies like IBM Workload Deployer can help those organizations do just that.
Can you more fully describe a cloud based workload template? Is it kind of custom because people build it out of SOA components? Do the templates end up being industry specific? Are they reusable, and in what context if they are?
The idea of a workload template, or what we call virtual application patterns, is to give users a means to codify and harden their application environments. Using these patterns, one declaratively describes the components, relationships, and policies that make up an application environment. When users are ready to ‘install’ this application environment, they simply deploy the virtual application pattern. IBM Workload Deployer provides the know-how to translate the application and its policies into a completely configured application environment. Further, the appliance manages the environment over time in accordance with the policies specified by the user. In effect, virtual application patterns enable organizations to focus on the services they want to deliver as opposed to the infrastructure services that go into supporting those services.
Now, the very nature of application environments dictate that these virtual application patterns will be somewhat unique among different users, but that does not mean that each user needs to reinvent the wheel. The idea is that IBM and a strong ecosystem of contributors can deliver a robust set of patterns to meet a wide array of needs. Enterprises can consume existing patterns and make tweaks for their use case, or they can use IBM tools to build customized virtual application patterns from the ground up.
How does the workload deployer appliance hide complexity from the user? I can imagine that error free deployments are of value, but does this really happen?
There are a number of different ways in which IBM Workload Deployer strives for simplicity. One can first see the focus on simplicity by examining the form factor. By delivering IBM Workload Deployer as a hardware appliance, users do not have to install or configure any software to get started. They simply rack the device, connect it to a network, and start to put IBM Workload Deployer to use. One of the first tasks users complete when initially configuring IBM Workload Deployer is to define their internal cloud. Here again, one finds simplicity in the way IBM Workload Deployer abstracts details of the target virtualization platform and provides simple, automated management of the defined resources.
While those are important points of simplicity, virtual application patterns represent the most obvious elimination of complexity. These patterns bottle up the knowledge necessary to rapidly deploy and autonomically manage complete application environments, from the operating system right up to the application. By being able to confidently offload system configuration and management activities to IBM Workload Deployer and virtual application patterns, users can focus most of their effort on the applications and services they deliver to their consumers.
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