Today is arguably one of the most exciting times to be working in technology — there is such vast amount of innovation and transformation occurring all around us. Developers are witnessing an explosion of new application development models that leverage containers, serverless computing and microservice-based architectures that in turn allow them to modernize their applications and rapidly innovate to realize business value faster. They want fully automated DevOps pipelines so that as soon as new code is pushed, new containers are built and put into immediate use. Data scientists are seeing an explosion of new artificial intelligence frameworks, allowing them to unleash new insights for the enterprise from enormous data lakes. The advent of the public cloud has fundamentally changed the way users (e.g., developers and data scientists) expect to interact with their infrastructure. Users want on-demand infrastructure and applications to maximize innovation and focus on creating business value. Herein lies the question — how on earth can you build a multi-architecture cloud platform that’s capable of fulfilling all of these demands?
IBM Cloud Private is a private cloud platform for developing and running applications — all behind the enterprise firewall. It’s an integrated environment that enables you to design, develop, deploy and manage on-premises, containerized cloud applications (and virtual machines, but more on that later…). It leverages the industry’s de-facto standard container orchestration technology — Kubernetes, a private Docker image repository, a management console and monitoring frameworks. These tools collectively allow administrators and developers to modernize existing enterprise applications, build new cloud-native applications and innovate with emerging artificial intelligence frameworks (e.g., IBM PowerAI) — all whilst leveraging the latest tools and technologies. It’s also accompanied by a rich catalog of software, which can include IBM middleware, open source software, ISV software and your company’s software.
It’s a Multi-Architecture World
IBM Cloud Private delivers a seamless experience across a variety of enterprise hardware platforms, including Power Systems, IBM Z and x86. This means that developers can build their applications on the most appropriate platform for the task and users can deploy their applications without having to have any insight into the underlying infrastructure (i.e., “invisible infrastructure”). For example, Power Systems are well poised to run intensive cognitive and data processing applications and commodity x86 servers may be slated to run a web load balancing tier — and the end user need not be concerned with what’s running where. Figure 1 (shown below) showcases how IBM Cloud Private unifies the data center to provide the ultimate hybrid cloud experience to end users.
Containers — Got Storage?
Data storage is a critical aspect of running any application — after all, data has to be saved somewhere, right?!? So how is persistent storage provided to containerized applications within IBM Cloud Private? Don’t worry, there are several options here, such as setting up an NFS or GlusterFS cluster, which can be used to provide storage access to Kubernetes pods (i.e., the place where containers run) to store critical application data, such as the backing data store for a database.
While NFS and GlusterFS are both options for Power Systems, are there better alternatives that don’t require setting up a new shared storage technology? Drum roll please… absolutely! For customers already using IBM PowerVC, you can leverage the PowerVC FlexVolume driver, which allows the storage array(s) (e.g., IBM Storwize, Dell EMC, Hitachi, etc.) that are registered with PowerVC to provide persistent storage for containers. Alternatively, you can use IBM Storage Enabler for Containers, which provides persistent storage to containers when using select IBM storage arrays (e.g., A9000(R), XIV or Storwize) — an excellent choice when no Infrastructure-as-a-Service product (e.g., PowerVC) is available within the environment. The net — regardless of your infrastructure, we’ve got your storage needs met!
What about Virtual Machines? Don’t Worry — You’re Covered!
Containers are undoubtedly becoming a fundamental building block for how applications are built. But make no mistake, virtual machines (VMs) will continue to be fundamental building blocks for IT administrators and developers as well. This is one of IBM Cloud Private’s (ICP) key differentiators — not only does it leverage Kubernetes to orchestrate container deployments, but it can also provision VMs to multi-cloud environments via IBM Cloud Automation Manager (CAM). CAM is an application (for purchase) that runs within ICP that can talk to various cloud endpoints, such as IBM PowerVC, IBM Cloud, AWS, Azure, vCenter and more! And the best part is that these VM-based applications can be put in the ICP application catalog right alongside of containers — so SAP HANA and Oracle on AIX can sit right alongside WebSphere Liberty in the catalog; end users need not know anything about the underlying technology — they just deploy their app and use it!
No Day Like Today
There you have it — a cloud platform that delivers the needs of today’s applications and empowers developers, data scientists and others with all the tools they need to create tomorrow’s innovations. IBM Cloud Private enables a heterogeneous cloud infrastructure with Power Systems, IBM Z and x86 that’s capable of orchestrating container deployments and DevOps pipelines as well as VM deployments via IBM Cloud Automation Manager. And with POWER9 now available to handle mission critical, cognitive and cloud-native applications, there’s no time better than today to get started! For more information on how to get started installing IBM Cloud Private on Power Systems, check out this getting started guide.