If you’re an IT manager trying to get your company’s cloud application up for the big launch next week, every minute counts. Slow deployments only delay projects and add cost. IT has no time to make sure basic plumbing just works. That’s where IBM’s prepackaged expertise comes in.
Unveiled in April, the company’s PureSystems family makes use of IBM’s extensive experience in setting up enterprise datacenters. PureSystems gather simplified datacenter elements into a single “box.”
Well, two boxes. The PureFlex infrastructure system (the first box) aims to lower infrastructure operating expenses and speed deployment. The PureApplication platform system (the second box) layers applications on top of the PureFlex infrastructure.
For years now, IBM has shifted away from selling commodity systems, moving toward high-margin areas where the company has distinctive competence. The PureSystems lineup exemplifies this strategy.
The know-how that IBM pours into these boxes includes things like smart data placement, which increases the performance of critical applications. By optimizing the generation of potentially thousands of virtual machines on a single system, PureFlex can reduce software-licensing costs by using fewer physical processing cores. Management capabilities are built right into the systems, allowing IT managers to diagnose problems quickly.
IBM baked integration into the design from the very beginning, allowing for greater application density, which saves floor space. Security is embedded from the hardware up through the stack to the application layer, removing the requirement to do any security configuration during setup. And internal networking features allow more applications to avoid sending traffic through the top-of-rack switches, which speeds up performance.
Since the systems are preconfigured and tested at the factory, setup is greatly simplified and the time it takes to bring up a system is minimized. The system does its own housekeeping, shuffling workloads around dynamically across physical and virtual resources, all without IT managers having to intervene. Storage provisioning occurs in a similar manner, with the system making its own sage decisions about where to put things and when.
The PureSystems family runs on Power or x86 chips and is agnostic when it comes to hypervisors, hosting potentially Red Hat’s KVM, Microsoft’s Hyper-V, VMWare’s ESX, or IBM’s own PowerVM. The Power configurations can run AIX, i, or Linux operating systems, and the x86 systems can run either Linux or Windows.
While most enterprise suppliers — Dell, Cisco, Hewlett-Packard, and Oracle — have also moved in recent times to provide integrated computing, storage, and networking, the PureSystems family takes this game up a level. Given IBM’s vast software portfolio and extensive partnerships, PureSystems brings a high degree of utility and openness to the datacenter.
The Company has packaged its expertise in what it calls “patterns,” or templates, which embody pretty good guesses as to what will work in a wide variety of circumstances. These patterns come from three sources. They are preinstalled in the boxes by IBM, loaded in by application vendors, or in some cases may come from the IT shop itself.
Because of the PureSystems family architecture, these standardized systems can be thrown straight into a cloud infrastructure. Resources can be scaled dynamically. They support virtualization, multi-tenancy, and automated provisioning. And they have a host of built-in monitoring and management capabilities.
With this new set of products, IT managers can spend more time working on systems that support the business’s revenue generation and less on just keeping existing systems going.
Disclosure: Endpoint has a consulting relationship with IBM. A version of this piece originally appeared on Forbes.com in April 2012.
Roger L. Kay is President of Endpoint Technologies Associates, Inc., an independent technology market analysis company. Previously, he was Vice President of Client Computing at IDC, covering client PCs (desktop and mobile computers).