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IBM Promises Bridge From Data Center To Cloud

IBM said at its Interconnect conference its new services will allow easier shifting between the enterprise data center and public cloud.

IBM sees opportunity in helping IT shift workloads between a company's own data center and public cloud environments. For the foreseeable future, half of IBM's cloud developers will be assigned to generating hybrid services oriented toward data management, IBM said Monday.

IBM thinks "data sprawl" across different computing environments is one of IT managers' biggest problems in using the public cloud. IBM's new hybrid services based on public standards "will break down the barriers between clouds and on-premises IT systems," said IBM Senior VP Robert LeBlanc on Monday.

IBM made its hybrid services announcement at its Interconnect show for cloud customers, which runs this week in Las Vegas. IBM didn't say when the services will be generally available, but execs made frequent references to "this year."

The new services will be based on IBM's SoftLayer public cloud infrastructure-as-a-service offerings, and its BlueMix platform-as-a-service products. For example, IBM promises what it calls Enterprise Containers -- Linux containers based on the Docker API that will give enterprise applications a degree of portability, security, and control that they have lacked, LeBlanc said.

IBM's Robert LeBlanc

(Image: via IBM)

IBM's Robert LeBlanc

(Image: via IBM)

Enterprise Containers are designed to let IBM customers develop a new application in a public cloud data center such as IBM Softlayer's, and then bring it into a company's on-premises data center in the container format. IT teams might want this approach for an app that they need to build quickly (and thus want to quickly spin up public cloud infrastructure for its development), but that they then want to run inside the enterprise firewall for reasons such as data control. In some cases, customers feel they need to keep data on-premises to meet regulatory compliance. Data sovereignty can be an issue if customers are located in European countries.

[Want to learn more about why IBM would standardize on Docker containers? See Google: Docker Does Containers Right.]

IBM has been quick to recognize developer interest in the value of Linux containers, which offer a different approach to achieving application portability between environments. It showed support for containers by being among the first companies to jump into the Kubernetes open source code project for Linux container management when Google launched it last July.

IBM expands on-premises, private cloud options

IBM will also sell software to let customers build a private cloud on premises that matches its BlueMix platform-as-a-service. The software dubbed BlueMix Local will let a development team locally invoke the same APIs that they use when accessing BlueMix public cloud services. BlueMix Local will be a subset of the tools and application middleware services available on BlueMix PaaS. IBM also says that sometime this year it will deliver IBM DataWorks, which is an online service for analyzing data. DataWorks is meant to help separate out segments of data needed for analysis.

Bluemix and Bluemix Local are somewhat analogous to the move that Amazon Web Services made when it tolerated and then later partnered with the creator of look-alike open source APIs of its EC2 cloud. Eucalyptus Systems became a third party source of software that could be used to establish an on-premises private cloud that shared APIs with the Amazon public cloud.

In addition, IBM will seek to improve developer productivity through new services. One such service will be API Harmony, which will use search to match what a developer is trying to do with existing APIs in use by the enterprise. The Bluemix Watson Zone will be available to help developers search for APIs and other components, even on on-premises System Z mainframes. Cloud environments can speed development, said LeBlanc, but finding the right API for an application can be a hunt for "a needle in the haystack."

IBM officials told the Interconnect crowd Monday that it has opened five SoftLayer data centers in four months, including new locations in Sydney and Montreal. SoftLayer now occupies 40 distinct regions around the globe.

It also has signed a deal to work with India's Tech Mahindra to build a single-tenant version of Bluemix -- Bluemix Dedicated -- for use on IBM's cloud infrastructure. BlueMix Dedicated might be used by manufacturers who want the high-speed networking and other computing power of Softlayer infrastructure but want strict control over the data involved, Raju Wadalkar, CTO of Tech Mahindra, said.

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Charles Babcock is an editor-at-large for InformationWeek and author of Management Strategies for the Cloud Revolution, a McGraw-Hill book. He is the former editor-in-chief of Digital News, former software editor of Computerworld and former technology editor of Interactive ... View Full Bio

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pcharles09
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pcharles09,
User Rank: Ninja
3/30/2015 | 8:03:39 PM
Re: IBM role in cloud computing?
@TerryB,

Very interesting commentary. I had a feeling you were going to say cost as the main factor. Makes sense. Now that you mention it, I'll look into the i5, etc as  you mention. You're right, I didn't even know this existed except for half a page in CS classes years ago. So most of it was a footnote on the page. Good to know now though.
TerryB
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TerryB,
User Rank: Ninja
3/24/2015 | 10:20:51 AM
Re: IBM role in cloud computing?
All about cost @pcharles. These mainframe and i5 (formally AS400) servers are Character User Interface (CUI) still, just like old days. When GUI and web became (rightfully) the new primary user interface, the low cost of Windows servers and it's GUI nature took over the small and midrange business market. No one saw this level of hacking/security becoming the issue it is today. Businesses were focused solely on getting those e-commerce sites out there, security was barely an afterthought. Now that security is a priority, the basic flaws in Windows, and to a lesser degree Linux, is killing people. You've got to remember Windows was created as a single user system. As MS tried to create Win Server to behave like mainframes, they didn't have the security focus that IBM did when they created MVS. In their defense, could anyone have really seen coming what we are dealing with today?

Although cost was by far primary reason for market loss of these IBM servers, it also didn't help IBM had no clear path for creating GUI/web applications for programmers like myself who grew up with CICS/COBOL. I experimented for years with various technologies trying to find something close to the efficiency of CUI application creation. Java sucked. CGI/HTML sucked. WebSphere sucked. Only in last few years did I discover the Javascript/HTML5 (Sencha Ext JS, although jQuery very popular also) path and settled on it to replace CUI applications. Most of newer generation like yourself came up in Windows development, from COM to .NET to ASPX. The UNIX side became Java. So it became a self fulfilling prophecy, if you bought an i5 server you might not find anyone who could work on it.

With the power in computers now, mainframes are really only feasible for the largest companies. The CitiBank's of the world. But the i5 server is still a hidden jewel, the finest business server you could ever own. But you then need an application plan, which ERP to use and how to support/create your own. I expect IBM to really push the security aspects versus Windows but not likely to ever really explode their market share again. Kind of sad, really. But I guess you know that Watson, the Jeopardy computer, is the same hardware that runs i5/os. Now Watson itself is UNIX based (AIX), i5/os is geared for businesses, like the manufacturing company I work for.IBM consolidated it's POWER servers, can run either o/s.

All this said @pcharles, the i5 or mainframe can still be hacked thru application vectors. If your goal is to steal a file of credit card info and you put up a internet facing site with a poor PHP configuration, someone can still grab that file. My comments are strictly about the o/s itself, you don't corrupt the core o/s from web browsers or email attachments or network worms.

Hope that helps explains my position, right or wrong. I just know I sleep very, very well each night knowing the i5 has my back. Been using that machine since 1988. The cost of low end i5 server now is very competitive with Windows now, about $20K. Keep in mind that includes database and software, unlike Windows/UNIX you don't buy SQL Server, Oracle, etc separately and install. But I think ship has sailed it ever kicks Windows butt again, just not enough people like me left and very few schools teach with those.
pcharles09
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pcharles09,
User Rank: Ninja
3/24/2015 | 12:44:00 AM
Re: IBM role in cloud computing?
@jagibbons,

Tell me about it!
pcharles09
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pcharles09,
User Rank: Ninja
3/24/2015 | 12:41:54 AM
Re: IBM role in cloud computing?
@TerryB,

You are right. I have no clue what you're referring to about MVS, etc. They seem like the prototype of what was taught in school, but seemed more fairy tale than anything. I guess it did exist. To segue the conversation, since you have experience with these hardened OS's, why aren't they more mainstream?
TerryB
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TerryB,
User Rank: Ninja
3/17/2015 | 1:08:45 PM
Re: IBM role in cloud computing?
Look @pcharles, I'm not trying to insult you. I've seen your posts before and you are not a dumb guy. But I get impression you are a younger guy who has never worked on MVS or i5/os in you life, and likely never will. If that is case, then this forum is not medium I can explain why those o/s are so much different than Windows, Linux/UNIX. If you do come from that background, I'd love to hear you explain just one attack vector/exploit that works on those machines. And I'm not talking about some idiot hooking machine to WAN with an Admin password left at default, a real exploit. I also don't want to hear about a Chinese agent working on IBM software team and building a backdoor into the o/s. If your comment "anything can be hacked" is including that level of insider access, of course I agree with you. But good luck actually pulling that off.

For the rest of you to understand what I mean, here are two reasons these machines are different: You can NOT access the memory of one process from another process, I don't care if you have God's credentials. So you don't play those games where you install malware and hide it from even showing up as running on machine. The other primary reason is these machines don't run scripts, you have to compile code before it will run. So you don't drop an executable file on server and it just runs to configure remote access backdoors. That only exists in these kiddie systems like Windows.

Like I said, I'm always willing to learn. Send me a link to an exploit to pawn i5 or MVS servers if you know of such a thing. But don't hide behind argument they don't exist because no one wants to try. Those machines existed 20 years before these crappy Windows servers came along and are still going strong. This isn't legacy stuff, my i5 serves up business data to Ext JS 4 applications. And I do it single handedly, including the operational/system side of IT operations. Show me a Windows shop that does that.
jagibbons
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jagibbons,
User Rank: Ninja
3/16/2015 | 10:21:25 PM
Re: IBM role in cloud computing?
Exchange definitely ranks up there in terms of complexity. Make multi-version upgrades that much more difficult.
pcharles09
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pcharles09,
User Rank: Ninja
3/16/2015 | 10:08:05 PM
Re: IBM role in cloud computing?
@jagibbons,

A manager once told me that Exchange == lots of communication. No pun since it is an email platform but there's so much back & forth from the design phase up to & after implementation. But the same thought process should be used with any systems integration and/or upgrade. Technically, should be for simple things too.
jagibbons
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jagibbons,
User Rank: Ninja
3/16/2015 | 10:05:19 PM
Re: IBM role in cloud computing?
Tough one. Lots of communication might help, but sometimes it's an uphill battle.
pcharles09
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pcharles09,
User Rank: Ninja
3/16/2015 | 10:00:31 PM
Re: IBM role in cloud computing?
@jagibbons,

Agree 100%. The worse part is that the client can't quite understand why it's such a complicated process. The interface changing is the only thing they consider different. So frustrating.
pcharles09
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pcharles09,
User Rank: Ninja
3/16/2015 | 9:56:03 PM
Re: IBM role in cloud computing?
@TerryB,

I do have a clue what I'm talking about. If you're saying that my point is invalid, then I disagree with you as well. Security being "baked in" may only mean to some that it takes longer to hack, not that it's un-hackable.
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