IBM Orchestrates Web IT Tasks

Web Infrastructure Orchestration combines blade servers with a host of software to automate management of Web services and applications.

InformationWeek Staff, Contributor

October 8, 2003

3 Min Read

IBM on Wednesday unveiled the next product in its Project Symphony initiative, a bundle that combines its blade servers with a host of software to automate the chore of managing Web services and applications.

The IBM Web Infrastructure Orchestration integrates a trio of IBM's software--WebSphere, its DB2 database, and Tivoli Storage Manager--with BladeCenter blade servers, said Tim Dougherty, the manager of the company's eServer Blade Server division. Wrapped around the software and hardware is IBM Tivoli Intelligent ThinkDynamic Orchestrator, a policy-based utility computing package that IBM rolled out last month.

Project Symphony is the moniker for the line of products and services IBM is touting as an on-demand solution to help businesses automate some or all of their IT infrastructure.

"Orchestrator is the special ingredient here," said Dougherty, because it lets administrators automatically manage their company's Web environment and infrastructure by setting policies for such things as deploying applications or adding server capacity.

"Administrators can set rules that, for instance, say that Application A is more important than Application B," Dougherty said, "and Orchestrator looks at the totality of the servers that are available to run those applications, and makes decisions based on the policies."

This workflow-style automation lets companies prioritize Web services and applications, then walk away from the manual chore of setting up new servers to handle the load or reprovisioning existing ones with the desired application. "It takes the workload off administration and makes the chore as much policy-driven as possible," Dougherty said.

The idea, he said, is for companies to use their server resources more efficiently and to be able to dynamically react to demand spikes.

"As the Web workload picks up on one application, Orchestrator automatically takes workload off the other servers and starts up a whole new server for that application. It's all done automatically; the server is reprovisioned for that application with no human intervention required."

Orchestrator is the intelligent glue embedded in the blade servers, and manages all the hardware, including storage capacity, and the IBM-provided software, shifting resources as they're needed.

The big benefit, said Dougherty, is that what used to take days--reconfiguring a Web-services environment to reallocate resources to the most pressing demand--now takes hours or just minutes. The IBM Web Infrastructure Orchestration bundle can react in less than an hour in almost all cases, Dougherty said--and often in a few minutes.

Dougherty said that IBM would extend the Orchestrator-driven resource-shuffling concept to areas beyond Web services and applications, such as collaboration and E-mail systems like Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Notes.

The bundle is built on the eServer BladeCenter, a multiserver device that can hold as many as 14 blades. Along with the announcement of IBM Web Infrastructure Orchestration, IBM also said it will offer BladeCenter Standby Capacity, an on demand-style plan where customers can populate the BladeCenter with the maximum of 14 blades, but pay for only the first seven. As capacity increases, the Orchestrator will "switch on" additional blades automatically.

Pricing for IBM Web Infrastructure Orchestration begins at $20,000 for the base Orchestrator software, said Dougherty, and ranges up to $300,000, depending on the configuration of the BladeCenter and the licenses needed for the bundle's software components. Customers can pick and choose which components to purchase if, for instance, they prefer Oracle's database to IBM's DB2.

Web Infrastructure Orchestration and BladeCenter Standby Capacity will be available at the end of this month

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