Earth never stops, our life constantly changes. Thinking about how information technology (IT) changed our everyday life, I like recalling that the World Wide Web was born more than twenty years ago and today I access my bank account, buy music, and make travel reservations using my smartphone, wherever I am. But if IT continuously evolves, its complexity grows too.
From the perspective of a Chief Information Officer (CIO), managing complexity, reducing costs, and following business changes are uneasy challenges. Published studies about the priorities of CIOs show virtualization as one of the key strategies, yet virtualization is not a new concept and today is largely diffused.
Probably, virtualization is becoming a building block of a new kind of solution, which has to transform IT into something like a chameleon. It is not simple, because this “chameleon” has to be able to quickly change color and having the right color for any need.
Is IBM PureApplication System like a chameleon?
Melting networking, storage, computational nodes, software, and built-in expertise together, PureApplication System applies the simplicity of an appliance in the provisioning of applications. So, it can change color quickly.
PureApplication System let you design applications in terms of patterns. You can design your patterns, but IBM and IBM Business Partners can provide patterns for specific solutions. This means that your catalog of patterns can rapidly grow. So, PureApplication System can have many colors.
Integrated hardware and software plus built-in expertise, PureApplication System introduces a new way of doing things, drastically simplifying the provisioning of virtual applications. What are virtual applications? What are their benefits and limitations?
The chameleon’s colors
If PureApplication System were a chameleon, virtual applications would be its colors. You can choose a virtual application pattern from the catalog and deploy it, seeing that the new instance is up and running in a few clicks.
Well, you can onboard an existent application to PureApplication System, if the application is ready to become virtual. In fact, during the deployment phase, PureApplication System uses its own built-in expertise for automatically realizing the entire software architecture behind the selected application. This capability has some constraints. For this reason, the process of onboarding applications to PureApplication System requires an assessment in order to understand the best approach to use for each application.
Acquiring new colors
Onboarding an application to PureApplication System means transforming it into a pattern. This is a quick step. Designing a pattern is something like drawing an application’s architecture. The following figure shows a sample case, consisting of a scalable web application connected to a database and a user registry.
The point is: when you design a virtual application, you keep the focus at application-level. You don’t have to think to infrastructure’s aspects like topologies, virtual machines or high availability mechanisms. You simply describe the application in terms of:
- Which components do you need (web applications, databases, queues, and so on)?
- What are the characteristics of each component (application module files, database tables, and so on)?
- What is the behavior of each component (scalability requirement, multi-tenancy, security, and others)?
- What are the relationships between components?
When you deploy a virtual application pattern, PureApplication System realizes a new instance for it, that is an entire software architecture. In fact, deploying a pattern, PureApplication System takes many decisions, like:
- Which resources to use (storage, computational nodes, and others)
- Which virtual machines to create
- How to configure the operating systems inside the virtual machine
- How to configure the software inside the virtual machine
- How to solve software interdependencies, scalability, high availability, and so on
At the end of the deployment phase, your application is ready to use.
PureApplication System is in charge of handling all complexity behind the deployment of an application. Of course, beyond pattern designing and deployment, there are other activities about resource management, networking, monitoring, and so on. PureApplication System allows a complete pattern life-cycle management and its system management console offers a single view of the entire cloud ecosystem (network, storage, computational nodes and software), simplifying the collaboration between all involved roles (in my experience, this is not a secondary aspect).
IT has to become a dynamic service provider and PureApplication System can be the right building block.
The concept of pattern allows the transforming of solutions into repeatable deployable assets. The strict integration between hardware, software, and expertise, provides the necessary capabilities for an easy provisioning of optimized solutions. Finally, the full virtualization (from network to applications) represents the only way to maximize the usage of resources, keeping the cost low.
I tried to highlight benefits of virtual applications, because this kind of pattern represents an application-centric approach lined up to cloud computing paradigm, promising a reduction of time-to-value and lower total cost of ownership (TCO), although, PureApplication System provides a system-centric approach too.
Next questions are: what is Virtual System Pattern? What are its benefits and limitations?