Skip to content

IBM Smart Cloud, Enterprise and Enterprise+ Overview

You’ve probably heard that IBM launched two new, public cloud offerings recently, Enterprise and Enterprise+. These offerings are oriented around the requirements IBM is getting from larger companies – they’re hoping to match the feature sets to existing work-loads and application types.

While at the IBM Cloud Forum where IBM announced these offerings, I sat down with IBM’s Jan Jackman and CohesiveFT’s Craig Heimark to talk about these offerings. Jan tells us about the two Smart Clouds and the types of work-loads people are using cloud for; Craig goes over how CohesiveFT partners with IBM to secure these work-loads and help manage the stacks.


Michael Coté: Well hello everybody, here we are in lovely San Franscisco at the IBM Cloud Forum, and I’ve got two guests with me to talk about something that IBM came out with today which is pretty exciting with all the cloud discussion that’s been going on. And that’s sort of two types of Smart Cloud, if you will. Do you guys want to introduce yourselves?

Jan Jackman: Sure, I’m Jan Jackman and I lead our global cloud services as part of IBM Global Technology Service division within IBM.

Michael Coté: And yourself?

Craig Heimark: And I’m Craig Heimark, I’m one of the Founders of CohesiveFT, we’re one of the cloud partners of IBM.

Michael Coté: Like I was saying, you guys came out with two Smart Cloud offerings today, Enterprise and Enterprise Plus, and I’m wondering if you could just give us an overview of what those offerings are?

Jan Jackman: Sure. What we see in the marketplace is that most of our Enterprise customers have a variety of workloads or applications that they need to run in the cloud environment and move to the cloud environment. And there are different characteristics that are required based on security, based on the type of workload whether it’s bursty type of workload that runs within days or weeks or if it’s a long running production application that may run months or years.

And so what we introduced today is the Enterprise platform which deals with the multi-tenant bursty type of workload, so workloads that would be like the development and test environment or even applications that may run for a short period of time, that could leverage as cloud and the associated service level agreements with that type of a workload.

The Enterprise Plus really looks at a fully managed environment. So as clients move from doing a development and test, and then they want to move the app into a production level environment that has higher security needs, higher SLA, higher isolation of different workloads, then we have the continuity of the platforms to be able to move from one environment to the other. So if you take Dev/Test as a use case and take Application Lifecycle Management, what you see is the need to be able move between different cloud environments.

So you may do development and test, development on a private cloud behind your firewall, you may want to for reasons of economics do performance testing or stimulations on cloud to take advantage of the burst capability of the infrastructure and then you may want to move it into a production environment. So what we see in order to implement these type of workloads with this example, it takes a number of a capabilities from IBM and also capabilities from our partners.

Michael Coté: One of the things that I am starting to like about the Enterprise and the Enterprise Plus offerings were, your guys just take on what the enterprising cloud is, if you will, it’s exactly that you’re getting into that different workloads or applications or different stuff to really abstract that, if you will, then your running on the cloud, sort of demands different handling in the cloud, and at some point you need to get above the level of — we’re achieving all this cloud goodiness with standardization and things like that. But above that there is still a sort of, we don’t want to all have the same application, I guess, or we don’t all have the same application that we could use.

Jan Jackman: Right, or the applications have different characteristics from a security or availablity —

Michael Coté: Right, right. And to that end, how is CohesiveFT helping manage all those different workloads in the cloud?

Craig Heimark: Well instead of the technical term stuff or even more specific workloads, we tend to use the word application topologies.

Michael Coté: Right.

Craig Heimark: Because, the real unit of work at the enterprise level is actually the application topology, so typically a cluster of three to ten servers working together that provide some business functionality. And from the get-go we were aimed at making these application topologies portable between different underlying virtualized infrastructures.

So we targeted virtualization as a platform, but knew there were going to be many different flavors of virtualization, so VMware, ESX behind the firewall. IBM’s KVM format and their public cloud, Amazon’s AMI format; and our technologies, what we do is we provide, we call it Secure Cloud Containers. And these containers abstract away, the differences between these different production platforms. And underlining those secure cloud containers are three technologies. There is one that deals with different image types, the different image types that are needed on the different platforms.

Another one which deals with the virtual networking, so the ability to maintain a consistent address space and a consistent network space, between your data center and IBM’s Cloud or Amazon’s Cloud or whomever.

Michael Coté: And is that your — the VPN stuff that you guys came out with?

Craig Heimark: Yeah, that’s called VPN Cubed. It was called VPN Cubed; it’s not a VPN alone, because that’s about securing the tunnel between your data center and the cloud. It’s actually a complete overlay network, so think about it as switches and routers, a complete networking infrastructure done in software. So you can run it on the top of hardware that you don’t own and is not dedicated to you. What that allows you to do is it allows you to treat IBM’s cloud as a node on hour LAN. And the third technology that underlies our Secure Cloud Containers, is called Context Cubed, and that is topology management, so portable topology management, to maintain those relationships between the servers and the clusters that you’re moving back and forth.

Michael Coté: Thinking about moving workloads around a lot, like what are the — in the hare and now what are the things that you are finding people having success with moving the workloads around, what are those bursty things that they are using?

Jan Jackman: So, typical web applications that you see — we will say there are commerce applications, that needs compute power over a period of time for a quick set of transactions that are happening. We’re seeing examples of these cases that are even more traditional legacy capability. We have an insurance company that’s doing a reinsurance application, has a set of analytics that they do, algorithms that they run in order to comply with the regulators and so they are able to run that one week a month, make sure that they comply to the risk levels of the regulators require in their industry and then it goes dormant for the next three weeks.

And so this is a workload that’s run for a period of time, goes down and so it’s very efficient to run in the Smart Cloud enterprise environment. And we start to look at Enterprise Plus and sort of needing to manage all the way up through the application. And so if you take certain processes, let’s take SAP as an example. There are certain processes that are repeated as you deploy and update in your SAP environment. These processes are perfectly suited for the cloud, but they typically will need to be run and managed in a fully managed environment.

Michael Coté: It makes me think of another area that I think both of you could address and that’s — there’s a whole lot of IT that’s existed before cloud. I know a lot of you know cloud forward people might not be happy about that or acknowledge it. So you’ve got that legacy IT and then you got all the new IT that’s going on and you described something very interesting there as far as I guess to use another technical term, kind of decomposing an SAP application into the various services that you have, and then figuring out, to use a highly technical term, how you can cloudize those different services or you can’t. And I wonder, between the two enterprise clouds, how much of that decomposing of the existing IT you guys are finding useful for people to do?

Jan Jackman: I’d say we’re at the beginning of this journey, so we’re learning, and seeing the use cases that are applicable for both. As we go and we look at our client environments and look at what they’re running today, what we’re finding is that probably 15%, 20% of what they run today, that is applicable to move to cloud and get the benefits of cloud. So it’s not going to solve for highly customized enterprise apps, you’re not going to be able to move those and get the benefit of cloud.

But as we talked about with the SAP, there are certain processes that are very applicable to cloud. And so what we see is that as SOA applications are being written, as mobility, as the driver to be able to have more service oriented architectures, to be able to deploy on these new device and mobility attributes, that there are going to be more and more workloads that are very relevant for our cloud environment.

So while you can start today, the growth of what we see that would apply in these two scenarios is going to continue to be a larger more important part of the enterprise. And most of our clouds are there from a cost perspective, where can I take cost out and apply this with some of the applications that I’m running, because if I lower my cost I can do more new things as I migrate forward in a new IT environment.

Michael Coté: You can free up resources.

Jan Jackman: Right, and so what essentially — you know cloud is a new way to deliver and consume IT. It’s not new technology. It’s really a new delivery methodology, and using the economics of scale, which is important, it allows you to leverage infrastructure in new ways to get much higher utilization.

But more importantly, as you think about new business value, you’re able to create new businesses that were not possible before, because you didn’t have instant access to the IT to be able launch new services quickly.

Michael Coté: I think CohesiveFT, you know, since — not necessarily all of it, a lot what you guys do is securing parts of the applications that are moving on or providing the scaffolding needed, if you will. Like how would you answer that same question of the types of applications, whether they are legacy or new that you guys are seeing moving into the cloud?

Craig Heimark: The short answer is the cloud really is the new platform for production. So over time as the tools and things develop, I think what we’ll do is see most of the kinds of use cases moving to the cloud. Your earlier question about, well what use cases are there that can only be done in the cloud, are the kinds of very bursty types of applications and the cyclicality of seasonality or for example the parallelization that is needed to do massive Monte Carlo simulations or something like that.

So, those kinds of things really, practically can’t be done any place except the cloud today. But I think we got to look at the cloud as the next generation IT platform. We’re seeing compelling evidence about the cost savings that get realized by moving to the cloud. I think more important than any of that actually is the speed and the agility that the cloud enables. And what we see is a typical corporate takes 90 days to requisition stage and deploy a visible circuit. Using our Elastic Server Coud, you can do the same thing in 15 minutes virtually. And I actually, I’m a former business guy that moved over to IT, because IT was a constraint, and I think what you’ll see is that over time the cloud infrastructure and the types of tools that go on it are going to eliminate that as de-constraint to changing your business process. So enterprises that don’t move in this direction are going to be at the risk of having much longer cycle time in changing their business processes.

Michael Coté: The conversation of cloud giving you agility, or I’ve enjoyed that recently because agility has been a word of something that we all want in IT forever. And I feel like, it’s sort of hasn’t been well defined with a credible technological basis, whereas when — in the cloud you can say well agility means doing things faster and therefore being able to do them more, so you’re not sort of stuck into an old plan if you will, and I think a lot of cloud technologies have demonstrated that, you can actually achieve that.

It’s not just sort of like an aspirational promise that we all want to get towards, but it’s something that has been demonstrated to actually work. So people are interested in this stuff, you know, for as many tangible benefits as the Smart Cloud and other clouds seem to offer, where do they go to start getting it, like what’s the — like where can they go get this off the shelf?

Jan Jackman: Right. Well, if you look at our Smart Cloud enterprise, you can go on the web today, you can sign up for it and test it out, right, it’s available on the web. You can access it, provision servers, and go and be able to test out these tools. Now, most of the enterprise customers really are looking for help for a roadmap, how do I apply it correctly, because if you just jump into this, you might be thinking workloads to your get in a value.

So we have a set of consulting services and capabilities that really help enterprise customers take a look at the application environments they have, look at the workloads that are relevant for cloud, and help them build a roadmap to be enabled to leverage and start simple, to get familiar with the cloud, over concerns with security differences or where the management, the overall management of their data, sits, and then be able to progress down the roadmap.

Craig Heimark: If you’re using the cloud for a test environment, it’s unlikely that the particular image type of that cloud is actually identical to the stuff you’re running behind your firewall, so you described this as a burgeoning technology — that’s exactly right. So do your scalable testing in the cloud, and then if you want to run it yet behind your firewall using our technology you can import it back and then overrun, translate it automatically instead of doing another manual migration.

Michael Coté: I appreciate you guys taking all this time to go over this, it’s fun to see IBM having more cloud stuff, for as much cloud conversation as IBM and also CohesiveFT gets involved in it. it’s always good to see the equivalent of SKUs out there, actual, uh, products. With that great, simple name.

Jan Jackman: It’s always exciting when we see customers benefit from it.

Michael Coté: Oh sure.

Jan Jackman: So, certainly our goal is to make sure that there is business value for our clients.

Michael Coté: Absolutely. Well, thanks again.

Jan Jackman: All right, thank you.

Craig Heimark: Thank you.

Disclosure: IBM is a client and sponsored this podcast.

Categories: Cloud, Enterprise Software, IT Management Podcast, RedMonkTV.

Tags: , , , ,

Comment Feed

One Response

Continuing the Discussion

  1. […] to take advantage of new technologies without having to do major re-writes – there’s some mention of that in Smart Cloud land), getting cloud economics, mobile backends, and so forth from the “hot, exciting, and new […]