Posts Tagged ‘SmartCloud Entry’

Bringing the System z into the Cloud via OpenStack

July 11, 2014

Last week DancingDinosaur looked at how organizations can extend the System z into the cloud and especially hybrid clouds.  One key component, the IBM SmartCloud Entry for the z remained a bit unclear. DancingDinosaur had turned up conflicting reports as to whether the z was supported by SmartCloud Entry or not.

As you read last week: The easiest way to get started should be through IBM’s SmartCloud Entry and Linux on z. Good idea but just one catch: in the spring, IBM SmartCloud entry for z, was still only a statement of direction: “IBM intends to update IBM SmartCloud Entry to support the System z platform…” The product apparently didn’t exist. Or did it? DancingDinosaur found a Starter kit of IBM SmartCloud Entry for IBM System z. Go figure. (2 years ago DancingDinosaur wrote that SmartCloud Entry for z was imminent based on an IBM announcement that was later pulled).

IBM just got back to DancingDinosaur with a clarification. It turns out IBM rebranded the product. The rebranded product family is now IBM Cloud Manager with OpenStack, announced in May. It provides support for the latest OpenStack operating system release, Icehouse, and full access to the complete core OpenStack API set to help clients ensure application portability and avoid vendor lock-in.

Most importantly to DancingDinosaur readers,  it unequivocally extends cloud management support to System z, in addition to Power Systems, PureFlex/Flex Systems, System x, or any other x86 environment. The new solution also supports IBM z/VM on System z, as well as PowerVC for PowerVM on Power Systems to add more scalability and security to Linux environments. As of this writing, the Starter kit for IBM SmartCloud Entry for IBM System z was still live at the link above but don’t expect it to stay up for long.

IBM goes on to explain that the rebranded product is built on the foundation of IBM SmartCloud Entry. It offers a modular, flexible design that enables rapid innovation, vendor interoperability, and faster time-to-value. According to IBM it is an easy-to-deploy, simple-to use-cloud management offering that can deliver improved private cloud and Service Provider solutions with features like security, automation, usage tracking metering, and multi-architecture management. You can access the technology through the OpenStack Marketplace here.

Expect to hear more about the z, hybrid clouds, and OpenStack at IBM Enterprise 2014 this coming October in Las Vegas.

DancingDinosaur is Alan Radding. Follow on Twitter, @mainframeblog and at

Extend the System z to the Cloud via IBM Bluemix

July 2, 2014

The System z offers an increasing number of cloud options.  At a SHARE conference this past spring Erich Amrehn, IBM Distinguished Engineer elaborated on Cloud Computing with IBM System z.  In his presentation, Amrehn focused on five cloud options: Solution Edition for Computing and Data Cloud, SAP Cloud, CICS Cloud, Hybrid Cloud, and Mobile solution for z. And that’s not even mentioning the z-based IBM Enterprise Cloud System.

Why should a z data center care?  In short, you risk being left behind. The next architecture will encompass traditional systems of record and the new systems of engagement. Both, according to Amrehn, are headed to the cloud.

From the cloud your data center can deliver on-demand self-service, ubiquitous network access, location-independent resource pooling, rapid elasticity (for storage, compute, and network), and pay-per-use. For this, Amrehn identifies 5 steps starting with virtualization. However, with his last step—patterns—many z shops drop the ball. All they have is Rational Programming Patterns via Rational Developer for System z.

Patterns become critical when the organization wants to capitalize on the agility, efficiency, orchestration, and optimization that are essential for gaining maximum value from clouds, especially hybrid clouds.

The easiest way to get started should be through IBM’s SmartCloud Entry and Linux on z. Amrehn notes just one catch: in the spring, IBM SmartCloud entry for z was still only a statement of direction: “IBM intends to update IBM SmartCloud Entry to support the System z platform…” DancingDinosaur, however, found a Starter kit of IBM SmartCloud Entry for IBM System z. Go figure. Still awaiting clarification from IBM (2 years ago DancingDinosaur wrote that SmartCloud Entry for z was imminent based on an IBM announcement that has since been pulled).

The hybrid cloud is emerging as IBM’s preferred cloud solution. The company suggests a 2-step path to the hybrid cloud: 1) select an automated cloud application platform and 2) capture the desired application(s) into a pattern. IBM’s PureSystems, particularly PureApplication, directly enable hybrid cloud innovation, especially with the IBM Pattern Engine and its support for a variety of containers.  Notice the evolution in IBM’s thinking around PureApplication. What started as integrated hardware with built-in expertise in the form of patterns is morphing into the PureApp software system and service with a cloud component.

For best results, you want expert-driven automation at the infrastructure, application, and deployment tiers. Through patterns, especially IBM patterns, you avoid any need to re-architect when shifting from on premise to off premise (and back, if needed). Without patterns, you must do everything manually, an inefficient and costly approach. You can find a selection of patterns at  the IBM Cloud Marketplace.

To capitalize on your hybrid cloud environment you eventually will want to augment it with new software—mobile apps, customer-driven innovations, whatever—apps that tap the capabilities of the latest devices and integrate with mobile and social environments. That’s why IBM is rolling out Bluemix, an integrated application development and deployment environment.

Bluemix is not your standard IBM licensed technology. IBM has adopted distinctly different pricing for Bluemix. Runtimes are charged by the GB-hours that your app runs, including some free per month. For IBM this truly is innovative pricing, and IBMers suggest it is a work in progress. Right now, pricing varies with each Bluemix service. Whatever mix of services you end up with, they will be tallied monthly and charged to your credit card.

The current charges look like this:

courtesy of IBM

courtesy of IBM

The goal is rapid app development; to go from idea to app in minutes, no coding. Instead assemble new apps using APIs and existing systems. Bluemix handles the heavy lifting (via Cast Iron) behind the scenes, including integrating with legacy systems.

And it works. A demo by San Francisco’s BART showed how they used Bluemix to build a mobile app in 15 days. EyeQ reduced operations costs by 30% by focusing on the apps and code while leaving Bluemix to handle the infrastructure. aPersona, which provides multi-factor authentication, used Bluemix to reduce the time to deploy a new customer from 2 days to 30 seconds.

Bluemix speeds development and deployment through instant access to IBM’s SoftLayer cloud infrastructure, IBM software, runtimes, third party services, and IBM DevOps services.  Now IBM needs to get the z completely wired in.

Expect to hear more about the z, Bluemix, SoftLayer, and hybrid clouds at IBM Enterprise 2014 this coming October in Las Vegas.

DancingDinosaur is Alan Radding. Follow him on Twitter, @mainframeblog and at

System z Finally Comes to SmartCloud

June 11, 2012

A few weeks ago IBM announced it was bringing the System z to its SmartCloud Enterprise offerings.  This raises a few questions, for starters: what took IBM so long? You could argue that the mainframe, as the original time-shared system, has been doing an early form of cloud computing for decades. More recently, mainframes have been available as hosted services at the company’s data centers.

Maybe a better question is why now? Might it be that Oracle bolstered its cloud offerings earlier this month? Similarly, barely a week ago EMC announced a cloud venture with a Verizon subsidiary. Not to be left out, HP also announced an updated converged cloud strategy last week. In that sense, IBM was ahead of the curve with its latest SmartCloud enterprise announcement, including System z. The industry’s sudden infatuation with big data is driving vendors to bolster their public and private cloud offerings.

IBM SmartCloud Enterprise+ for System z, as IBM describes it, is a cloud computing service designed to meet the evolving needs of IBM mainframe organizations. The service provides shared, secure and scalable IBM z/OS mainframe capacity delivered as secured logical partitions (LPARs) within a continually refreshed, managed environment residing in the cloud. IBM suggests companies will adopt this offering to avoid capital outlays for hardware and reduce software expenditures as they move toward a pay-for-use financial model.

In fact, IBM presents what amounts to myriad public, private, and hybrid cloud offerings. The IBM System z Capacity Offering for Cloud allows for partial balancing of incremental capacity growth on IBM zEnterprise 196 or z114 during a twelve month period. The offering enables companies to deal with business change by moving capacity between systems and even between locations.  As to be expected, IBM constrains how much you can rebalance, although the constraints are based on an unusually straightforward formula.

The IBM System z Disaster Recovery Offering for Cloud offers active capacity mobility between IBM zEnterprise 196 or z114 primary servers and disaster recovery servers. As IBM explains: companies need to test their disaster recovery capability by running production at the disaster recovery site over an extended period of time, such as when wanting to ensure, in the event of a disaster, all systems and processes can efficiently run from the disaster recovery site.

To that end, System z Disaster Recovery Offering for Cloud allows active capacity mobility between z196 or z114 primary servers and mirrored disaster recovery servers. With this offering an organization can perform a thorough disaster recovery test longer than a CBU test by moving its primary active workload on z196 or z114 to its disaster recovery server for up to 60 days. Usually this is needed to satisfy stringent audit or compliance requirements.

Again, the product comes with a few constraints.  For example, a workload may be moved up to four times a year, and for each move the maximum time a workload may run on the Disaster Recovery machine is 60 days.

There are more IBM SmartCloud offerings than noted above. And DancingDinosaur expects to see other z offerings in the cloud moving forward. Fully virtualized from the start, the z is a natural for the cloud. Power, another highly virtualized and integrated IBM system that should play well in the cloud, also has a SmartCloud offering now.  It’s about time.

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