Top Blog Post of 2012 Countdown: Is the IBM PureFlex System ready for private cloud?

Coming in at number four in our countdown is Vijay Bhadriraju blog post discussing whether PureFlex System is ready for private cloud. This post originally appeared on the Expert Integrated Systems blog on May 30, 2012.

In my previous blog, Key differences between IBM PureFlex System and IBM PureApplication System, I explained that IBM PureFlex System is a fully integrated infrastructure system and caters to businesses that would like to have ultimate control of their infrastructure pieces in their IT environment. From a cloud computing services view, the PureFlex System can be viewed as an infrastructure as a service, and the PureApplication System can be viewed as a platform as a service, which is ready for immediate use of private cloud deployme

The PureFlex System being an infrastructure system raises the question of whether it is capable of deploying private clouds.  The answer is yes, it does support private cloud deployments through the IBM SmartCloud Entry offering, which is a simple-to-deploy and easy-to-use cloud solution with a self-service portal for both IBM PureFlex System for System x (x86) and Power Systems platforms.

In this blog post, I explain the IBM SmartCloud Entry offering on PureFlex System for x86 and Power Systems and show you the key components that make up this private cloud solution. I also explain, at a high level, the steps involved in setting up IBM SmartCloud Entry on both PureFlex System x86 and Power platforms, and point you to relevant documentation for detailed setup procedures.

The following figure shows the various components that make up the SmartCloud Entry on PureFlex System for x86 and Power platforms. The lower left side of the figure shows the key components of SmartCloud Entry for System x (x86) and the lower right side shows for Power platform.

On both System x and Power platforms, the IBM SmartCloud Entry is delivered as a pre-integrated software stack and implemented as a lightweight web application that runs as an Open Services Gateway initiative (OSGi) application. The web application is a self-service portal with the following cloud key features and capabilities:

  • Cloud Administration and Management for:
    • Approval Policy, Project and Users & Roles management
    • Events and Auditing
    • Metering and Usage
    • Virtual Image Library and Configuration
  • Provides Rest API so ISVs or customers can easily extend and customize the UI.
  • The intuitive self-service UI simplifies cloud administration and improves operational productivity for processes such as:
    • Provisioning and de-provisioning virtual servers
    • Capturing a workload to create a new virtual appliance
    • Starting and shutting down virtual servers
    • Resizing existing virtual servers
    • Creating projects to give team-specific access to workloads
    • Providing network configuration that set unique network properties to the separate workloads
    • Billing, accounting, and metering support
    • Providing request and approval workflow support

PureFlex System with System x (x86) compute nodes

The installation of the IBM SmartCloud Entry on x86 involves the following key components:

  • On System x, the IBM SmartCloud Entry is delivered as a VMware vApp in a VMware ESXi virtual image, and requires an existing installation of VMware vSphere Enterprise Server (ESXi 4.1) managed by a vCenter Server standard edition running on a PureFlex System x86 compute node. The vApp communicates with vCenter using vCenter API.  It uses a database that resides in the SmartCloud Entry home directory. The default database is Derby, but optionally DB2 can be used to replace Derby. For Windows or Linux operating system (OS) on System x, a 64-bit JRE 1.6 must be running in the virtual machine (VM) for proper functioning of SmartCloud Entry. The instructions for deploying the vApp can be found in the IBM SmartCloud Entry for System X documentation.
  • (Optional) IBM Systems Director Standard Edition V6.2 and the IBM Systems Director VMControl V2.3.1 plug-in to Systems Director can be installed to provide management, automation, and health monitoring of the cloud. The Systems Director Standard Edition includes the Express Edition functions and additional capabilities around OS deployment, energy management, network control features, and upward integration into VMware vCenter. See the installation procedure for Systems Director.
  • (Optional) IBM Systems Director Storage Control can be installed to discover and collect inventory, and monitor health of select storage subsystems like the IBM Storwize V7000 storage system (used in PureFlex System) and Fibre Channel switches. See the installation procedure for Systems Director Storage Control.


  • (Optional) IBM Tivoli Provisioning Manager for Images V7.1 can be installed to improve the image management capabilities. The Tivoli Provisioning Manager for Images provides capabilities to capture and deploy physical or virtual systems, anywhere-to-anywhere server image conversions, and snapshot and restore of servers, independent of the underlying hardware. Install Tivoli Provisioning Manager for Images in a VM that is separate from the vApp VM on PureFlex System. See the installation procedure for Tivoli Provisioning Manager for Images.

PureFlex System with Power compute nodes

IBM SmartCloud Entry for Power Systems solution builds upon IBM PowerVM virtualization and IBM Systems Director VMControl. The installation of the IBM SmartCloud Entry on PureFlex System on Power platform involves the following key components:

  • The Power VM virtualization with Virtual I/O Server (VIOS) and logical partitions (LPAR) needs to be created and configured with AIX OS running in each LPAR in preparation to installing SmartCloud Entry. LPAR is the terminology used for a VM on the Power platform.
  • IBM Systems Director 6.2 and the IBM Systems Director VMControl 2.3.1 plug-in to Systems Director are pre-requisites and can be installed in one of the LPARs. Systems Director and the Systems Director VMControl provide the same capabilities on Power as explained earlier for System x. SmartCloud Entry communicates with Systems Director VMControl using a VMControl API.
  • On Power platforms, the SmartCloud Entry is delivered as an executable AIX binary package. For AIX on Power, a 32-bit JRE 1.6 must be running in the LPAR for proper functioning of SmartCloud Entry. See the instructions for setting it up on Power.
  • (Optional) The Network Installation Manager (NIM) Master can be installed in one of the LPARs and the NIM aids the installation of AIX images in LPARs. NIM is a client/server application that provides an environment to install and mange AIX file sets on systems over the network. The NIM server is the master; the client LPARs connect to the master to download and install the AIX OS. NIM provides an easy and efficient way to perform various installation and software maintenance tasks over several network types (such as Ethernet). See the instructions for setting up and configuring NIM for IBM SmartCloud Entry.


In conclusion, the IBM SmartCloud Entry solution, although branded as an entry-level private cloud solution, has a multitude of features built into a small footprint, is simple to use, and can quickly deploy a private cloud on PureFlex System x86 and Power Systems platforms and is included in the IBM PureFlex System Standard and Enterprise editions.


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Vijay Bhadriraju

About Vijay Bhadriraju

Open Group Master certified IT Specialist in the IBM Software Competitive Technology Laboratory with 16 years of software industry experience that includes 14 years at IBM. At IBM he has worked in the areas of Customer Consulting, Product Development and Business Partner Enablement. His current focus is performing competitive analysis of IBM vs. Oracle products. Additionally, he develops and showcases demos on various IBM WebSphere middleware at CPO customer events worldwide. He has hands on programming experience on Java, J2EE, Java EE, Web Services, XML, Web 2.0, Mashups, REST, HTML technologies. He possesses a wide breadth of WebSphere experience helping customers and business partners implement industry solutions. He holds a Bachelors of Engineering degree majored in computer science.