With the announcement of its plans to acquire CSL International as a strategic addition to its System z portfolio IBM is underscoring its intention to move the z even closer to the cloud, if that is possible. For over a year DancingDinosaur has been touting the z’s growing cloud-ness, most recently here, at the start of this year.
The mainframe has been part of cloud computing for so long that when private clouds were first being talked about data center managers couldn’t understand the fuss. They remarked to DancingDinosaur that they had considered their System z—highly virtualized since the moment it arrived—a private cloud from day one.
Still, it is good to see CSL added to the z product portfolio. CSL provides a simplified management of the virtualization environment. CSL Wave, which is targeted initially for the zEnterprise Linux Server, enables companies to monitor and manage their z/VM and Linux on System z environments using an easy-to-use graphical interface. The software provides drag and drop simplicity to instantly create, discover, visualize and connect virtual servers to resources. Admins can add, move and change virtual servers; connect and rearrange them as needed on the fly; and manage the resulting environment easily and quickly, no big learning curve to climb. In the process, it frees up skilled staff to address other business challenges.
CSL really is intended as a virtualization technology, and virtualization underlies cloud computing. The first step to a private cloud is to consolidate and virtualize the existing IT infrastructure and that is what CSL will enable. The next step is to automate the management, which also is where CSL plays. So, expect CSL Wave to show up immediately in zEnterprise Linux Server-based private clouds.
What comes next for CSL isn’t clear. As IBM puts it, virtualization, a foundation of cloud computing, and has been designed into the fabric of the System z architecture since its inception nearly 50 years ago. The z offers expansive scalability with a shared-everything design for maximum utilization – up to 100 percent – of computing resources. The CSL acquisition simply extends the value of IBM’s current cloud offerings.
In fact, IBM has been bolstering its cloud portfolio all year long. It was obvious at IBM Edge 2013, where nearly every session referenced the cloud in one way or another. It is even more evident in the recent SoftLayer acquisition. SoftLayer Technologies Inc. was a privately held cloud computing infrastructure company based in Dallas until June when it agreed to be acquired by IBM. The deal was closed earlier this week.
SoftLayer provides what amounts to a cloud on ramp for born-on-the-web companies, government agencies, and the Fortune 500. It offers a fully-automated platform to enable enterprises complete access, control, security, and scalability through SoftLayer’s functionally independent data centers, which feature redundant resources and are fully integrated through the company’s high performance global network architecture, described as a network-within-a-network topology. The network allows for true out-of-band access, and an easy-to-use customer portal built around a robust API that provides full remote access to all product and service management options.
At the same time, IBM announced that Flow, a real-time data platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and content curation platform, will stream its real-time data analytics based on IBM SmartCloud and the SoftLayer technology platform. Flow, a New York City-based company with Fortune 500 partnerships, transforms the way companies process, publish and consume real-time information, enabling it to be accessed and viewed from mobile devices. IBM will offer integrated solutions combining Flow, the high performance SoftLayer technology, and IBM SmartCloud. This streamed, integrated real-time data will enable clients to send and receive data from any mobile device, ensuring that it is integrated with enterprise data, thereby facilitating the collaboration essential to social business.
In short, the combination of Flow and SoftLayer will deliver the ability to intelligently connect, process, and route real-time data to and from any number of enterprise applications, analytics and mobile services. The result: real-time information dashboards and mobile apps can be deployed in minutes without any IT support.
The financial analyst community has been nervous about IBM at least since the last quarterly earnings report. (IBM’s key competitors fared worse.) The financial analysts want to see IBM mixing it up with everyone from established cloud players to low margin hot cloud upstarts and still make money. Of course, some of those same cloud players haven’t ever made money, and even if IBM has a bad year (which is not a given based on one quarter) it will still do $100 billion. That’s not exactly shabby.