Posts Tagged ‘hybrid clouds’

IBM Continues Cranking Up Blockchain

August 16, 2018

 

 

Somehow between quantum computing, AI, and hybrid clouds IBM is managing to squeeze in blockchain as an active, growing business. For instance, a previously unnamed collaborative effort between the world’s largest shipping company, Maersk, and IBM has now grown to 92 participants and been dubbed TradeLens.

IBM has 92 participants in the TradeLens blockchain network

DancingDinosaur long considered blockchain as a natural for the Z due to its zero downtime reliability and high certified levels of security (EAL4+). The most recent models include IBM’s automated pervasive encryption. No more wasting time making decisions about what to encrypt. The Z just encrypts it all with minimal overhead penalty. Your applications and workloads won’t even notice and compliance audits become a breeze.

TradeLens is emerging from its beta to accept early-adopter applications and announced a new custom contract service for executing complex shipping orders with fewer middlemen. “We have seen a lot of skeptics talk about the validity of blockchain solutions,” said Marie Wieck, IBM general manager and head of blockchain. “And I think with over 90 organizations and more than 150 million events captured on the system, “we really are seeing the proof,” she adds.

The initiative now includes Germany-based Hamburg Sud, which Maersk bought last year for $4 billion, and U.S.-based Pacific International Lines, along with numerous customs authorities, cargo owners and freight forwarders. Collectively, the shipping companies account for more than 20% of the global supply chain market share, with 20 port and terminal operators in Singapore, the U.S., Holland, and more serving 235 marine gateways around the world.

TradeLens, in practice, gives users access to their own blockchain node similar to those on the bitcoin blockchain that lets users send money without the need of banks. In the case of TradeLens a shipper can cut out as many as five middlemen, even for simple queries such as identifying the location of a shipping container.

At stake is what Transparency Market Research expects will be a $32.9 billion global supply-chain software business by 2026. As far back as 2015, the World Trade Organization estimated that simplifying the global supply chain could reduce costs among users by as much as 17.5%, with developing nations expected to see as much as a 35% increase in exports as they leapfrog over legacy technology platforms.

The cooperative effort between Maersk and IBM still needs to make money. To do so, the two companies have shifted the business model from a stand-alone joint-venture to the intellectual property that comprises TradeLens being co-owned and jointly developed.

But the new cooperative structure could unnerve some potential customers. To offset concerns, the CEO of Maersk’s New Jersey-based TradeLens operation, Mike White, says a number of barriers have been put in place, including contractual restrictions on sharing data and technical barriers in the form of the independently managed blockchain nodes.

If successful, TradeLens might literally embody the common refrain among blockchain users that “all ships will rise” when they use a shared, distributed ledger. Facing decreasing global freight rates, Maersk last quarter became just the latest container shipper to cut profit forecasts.

Among competitors aiming to cut those costs and increase profits is the former head of blockchain at accounting firm Deloitte, who earlier this year announced he was raising $100 million to launch a supply chain platform using the ethereum blockchain. Similarly, blockchain startup Fr8 is preparing to raise $60 million via an initial coin offering to build its own blockchain logistics platform.

“The value proposition is for all ecosystem participants,” said White. “The ability to get better access to more real-time data, to have better visibility end-to-end, and to be able to connect one-to-many in a more efficient and effective way, makes the cost of getting that information lower, makes the ability to manage your own business better, and makes the ability to service your customers that much stronger.”

DancingDinosaur is Alan Radding, a veteran information technology analyst, writer, and ghost-writer. Follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog. See more of his work at technologywriter.com and here.

 

IBM Applies Fit-For-Purpose to Accelerating Hybrid Cloud Adoption

September 16, 2016

Almost every company is using the cloud, but not for everything, according to a recently announced study from IBM’s Institute of Business Value (IBV). Although 78 percent of the executives surveyed reported cloud initiatives as coordinated or fully integrated, almost half of computing workloads are expected to remain on dedicated, on-premises servers. This forces IT managers to consider applying IBM’s old server fit-for-purpose methodology to the cloud era, something mainframe shops haven’t seen since 2009-2010 with the arrival of hybrid mainframes.

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Given cloud evolution, notes the study researchers, it is imperative that organizations determine and regularly re-assess which combination of traditional IT, public cloud, and private cloud best suits their needs. This sounds eerily similar to IBM’s fit-for-purpose mantra that it used to steer buyers between the company’s various server offerings: enterprise mainframes, midrange machines, and entry level PC servers. Only in today’s cloud era, the choices are on-premises private clouds, off-premises public clouds, and hybrid clouds.

Picking up the fit-for-purpose mantra, IBM’s Marie Wieck said:  “Enterprises are moving to the cloud, especially hybrid cloud, faster than anyone expected to support their digital transformation, drive business model innovation and fuel growth.” She concludes by rephrasing the old server fit-for-purpose pitch for the cloud era: “Successful clients have integrated plans to place workloads where they fit best, and IBM’s hybrid cloud strategy provides this on-ramp for flexibility and growth.”

DancingDinosaur has no problem with the fit-for-purpose approach.  It has proven immeasurably useful to me over the years when pressed to explain differences between IBM platforms. That the company is starting to apply it to various ways of deploying cloud computing seems both fitting and ironic. It was the emergence of the Internet in the first place as a forerunner to the cloud that saved IBM from the incompatibilities of its myriad platforms. This was after IBM’s internal effort to make its systems at least interoperate in some rudimentary way, no matter how kludgy, failed. This happened under an initiative called Systems Application Architecture (SAA), which started in the late 1980s and was gone and forgotten by 2000. Vestiges of SAA actually may still linger in some systems. Read about it here.

It should be no surprise that the cloud has emerged as a strategic imperative for IBM. In addition to being where the revenue is heading, it is doing good things for its customers. The latest study finds that the top reasons executives cite for adopting hybrid cloud solutions are: lowering total cost of ownership (54 percent), facilitating innovation (42 percent), enhancing operational efficiencies (42 percent), and enabling them to more readily meet customer expectations (40 percent).

Furthermore, the researchers found that organizations are steadily increasing their use of cloud technologies to address wide-ranging requirements. Specifically companies reported undertaking cloud initiatives that enabled them to expand into new industries (76 percent), create new revenue sources (71 percent), and create and support new business models (69 percent).

Given the widely varying possible cloud starting points from which any company might begin its cloud journey the fit-for-purpose approach makes even more send. As the researchers noted: The particular needs and business conditions of each enterprise help define its optimal hybrid solution: most often, a blend of public cloud, private cloud, and traditional IT services. Finding the right cloud technology mix or deployment approach starts with deciding what to move to the cloud and addressing the challenges affecting migration. In the study, executives achieved the strongest results by integrating cloud initiatives company-wide, and by tapping external resources for access to reliable skills and greater efficiency.

Cloud computing undeniably is hot. According to IDC, worldwide spending on public cloud services is expected to grow from $96.5 billion this year to more than $195 billion in 2020. Even as cloud adoption matures and expands, organizations surveyed expect that about 45 percent of their workloads will continue to need on-premises, dedicated servers – nearly the same percentage as both today and two years ago. Clearly organizations are reluctant to give up the control and security they retain by keeping certain systems on-premises, behind their own firewalls.

Hybrid cloud solutions promise a way to move forward incrementally. Hybrid clouds by definition include a tailored mix of on-premises and public cloud services intended to work in unison and are expected to be widely useful across industries. Each organization’s unique business conditions and requirements will define its optimal hybrid technology landscape. Each organization’s managers will have to balance cost, risk, and performance considerations with customer demands for innovation, change, and price along with its own skills and readiness for change. Sounds like fit-for-purpose all over again.

DancingDinosaur is Alan Radding, a veteran information technology analyst and writer. Please follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog. See more of his IT writing at technologywriter.com and here.

 

Docker on IBM z System

January 7, 2016

“If you want Docker on z, you can do it in next to 30 seconds, says Dale Hoffman,Program Director, Linux SW Ecosystem & Innovation Lab.  At least if you’re running Linux on z and preferably on a LinuxONE z.  With all the work Hoffman’s team has done laying the ground work for Docker on the z, you barely have to do anything yourself.

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Containers are ideal for cloud computing or, more importantly, for hybrid clouds, defined as the connection of one or more clouds to other clouds. Hybrid clouds are where IBM sees the industry and the z going, and containers, particularly Docker containers, have emerged as the vehicle to get enterprises there. Click here for an FAQ on Docker with z.

z System shops can get there fast using tools Hoffman’s group has already built for the z. To get started, just click here. Or, simply go to IBM Bluemix, from which you can build and deploy Docker containers for the z and other platforms. Back in June IBM introduced enterprise class containers that make it easier for developers to deliver production applications across their hybrid environments.

IBM also offers its own IBM branded containers that allow organizations to deploy, manage, and run application components on the IBM Bluemix development platform by leveraging the open-source Docker container technology. IBM Bluemix now offers three infrastructure compute technology choices to deploy applications – Docker containers, OpenStack virtual machines, or Cloud Foundry apps. Designed for enterprise production workloads, IBM Containers can be securely deployed with integrated scalability and reliability, which enterprise customers rely upon.

In keeping with IBM’s policy of not going it alone, the company also has become a founding member of a coalition of partners and users to create the Open Container Platform (OCP) that aims to ensure containers are interoperable. Features of the IBM Containers include integrated tools such as log analytics, performance monitoring and delivery pipeline, elastic scaling, zero downtime deployments, automated image security/vulnerability scanning, and access to Bluemix’s catalog of over 100 cloud services including Watson, Analytics, IoT and Mobile.

Enterprise z shops want containers because they need to be as fast and agile as the born-in-the-cloud upstarts challenge them. Think survival. Containers like Docker really provide ease of use, portability, and fast deployment almost anywhere to get new applications into production fast. Through containers Docker basically puts its engine/runtime on top of the OS and provides the virtual containers to deploy software into the container. The appeal of this is easy portability for the application/software to any Docker container anywhere and fast deployment.

Specifically the Docker technology provides application portability by utilizing open-source, standardized, light-weight, and self-sufficient container capabilities. IBM’s implementation of the Docker technology with enterprise capabilities further strengthens IBM’s support for hybrid cloud environments. Of course, not every application at every stage in its lifecycle will run in the public cloud—many if not most won’t ever–but IBM Containers enables the developers to determine when to run containers on premise and when to deploy to the public cloud on IBM Bluemix with full Internet connectivity. Image files created within IBM Containers support portability and can be instantiated as containers on any infrastructure that runs Docker.

Through the use of containers on z you can shape your environment using system virtualization and container elements according to your landscape and your requirements with hardly any constraints in performance.  In addition, Docker on z provides greater business agility to go to market quicker and solve business problems effectively through DevOps agility via Docker containers and microservices. Then add hybrid cloud and portability by which you move the same application across multiple clouds.   In short, you can define your IT structures according to your needs, not your system constraints.

Finally, there is nothing threatening about Docker containers on z. Docker is Docker is Docker, even on z, says Hoffman; it relies on the same container technology of Linux, which has been available on z for many years. So get started with containers on z and let DancingDinosaur know when you have success deploying your z containers.

DancingDinosaur is Alan Radding, a veteran information technology analyst and writer. Please follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog. See more of his IT writing at technologywriter.com and here.

Red Hat Summit Challenges IBM and zEnterprise

June 29, 2012

The Red Hat Summit in Boston this week showed off a slew of new products, some of which are sure to challenge IBM although none included hardware. As for the zEnterprise there was little beyond RHEL specifically aimed its way.

Although IBM has a long relationship with Red Hat, it is becoming clear that in some cases the two companies compete.  Despite moments of discomfort, IBM managers still are generally amenable to working closely with Red Hat. Coopetition, a mix of cooperation and competition, increasingly is the norm for all technology companies, not just IBM and Red Hat.  Both companies, for instance, have a strong interest in promoting KVM, which provides a low price hypervisor option. But as one IBM manager noted, price is only a door opener for a bigger discussion.  From that bigger discussion, IBM still holds more and stronger cards when it comes to delivering a complete customer solution.

The centerpiece of the conference was Red Hat’s announcement of four open hybrid solutions; hybrid here refers to the blend of public and private clouds. Find the announcement here. The four open hybrid cloud solutions consist of:

  • OpenShift Enterprise PaaS Solution combines Red Hat CloudForms, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization and JBoss Enterprise Middleware. It aims to deliver the speed and agility of PaaS desired by enterprise developers while addressing the governance and operational requirements of enterprise IT in an open and hybrid cloud.
  • Red Hat Hybrid Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) Solution, described by Red Hat as the industry’s first open hybrid cloud solution for enterprises, it includes the software needed to deploy and manage a hybrid cloud, including virtualization management with Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization; cloud management, governed self-service and systems management with Red Hat CloudForms; and guest operating system with Red Hat Enterprise Linux.
  • Red Hat Cloud with Virtualization Bundle, promises to move enterprises to the cloud for the price of virtualization and consists of Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization and Red Hat CloudForms, effectively combining virtualization and cloud management into the same project cycle.
  • Red Hat Storage, a software-only offering provides open source scale-out storage software for the management of unstructured data.  It is generally available with Red Hat Storage Server 2.0 today but the company has big ambitions for this.

All the above are software-only solutions. Red Hat is not getting into either the server or storage hardware business. Of these, the OpenShift PaaS product, which promises an easy on-ramp to open hybrid cloud computing with reduced complexity, sounds a little like IBM PureSystems and particularly the IBM PureSystems PureApplication System, which provides a fully integrated  hardware/software PaaS offering in a box.

Red Hat Storage, which is built around Red Hat’s recent Gluster acquisition, an open source software company that maintained GlusterFS, an open source, distributed file system capable of scaling to petabytes and beyond while handling thousands of clients. GlusterFS brings together storage building blocks over an Infiniband, RDMA, or TCP/IP interconnects to aggregate disk and memory resources and manage data within a single global namespace.

GlusterFS supports standard clients running standard applications over any standard IP network.  Red Hat’s GlusterFS gives users the ability to deploy scale-out, virtualized storage through a centrally managed and commoditized pool of storage while freeing them from monolithic legacy storage platforms.

The poster child for Red Hat Storage today is Pandora, which delivers music on demand over the net. Pandora put Red Hat Storage across 100 NAS nodes, producing what amounts to NAS in the cloud.  Where organizations have IBM storage, Red Hat Storage will virtualize and manage it as it does any other storage.

The most interesting discussion DancingDinosaur had revolved around Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). RHEL has experienced generally steady growth, and the RHEL team is cocky enough to target selected Microsoft workloads to drive further growth.  RHEL appears to be a dominant Linux distribution everywhere but on the z. Among z shops running Linux,  RHEL is treading water at around 33% share. SUSE is the dominant Linux distribution on z.  Given the upheaval SUSE has experienced you’d expect the zEnterprise to be a RHEL growth opportunity, especially with growing interest in multi-platform hybrid computing involving the z. Red Hat clearly needs to pay more attention to the z.


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