From IBM WebSphere CloudBurst Appliance to IBM PureApplication Service on SoftLayer

Over the past five years, IBM has made a significant contribution to the cloud computing space. Specifically, IBM developed and delivered several appliances and rack solutions. Figure 1 shows a timeline on three products.

IPAS history timeline

Figure 1. Approximate timeline

IBM WebSphere CloudBurst Appliance (WCA) first came out in 2009, bringing the appliance experience to a virtual WebSphere enterprise. The premise behind WCA was to create private clouds for WebSphere environments. WebSphere Application Server patterns reduced setup and configuration time. Administrators were able to provision WebSphere Application Server instances (deployed patterns) in a repeatable and predictable manner to a private cloud. Inside of WCA were patterns, scripts, images, management capabilities and security management. See Figure 2.

IPAS history CBA internalsFigure 2. What’s inside WebSphere CloudBurst Appliance

This quote from an executive overview of WebSphere CloudBurst Appliance sums up the appliance’s capabilities quite nicely:

“The cloud manager provides a self-service deployment interface that maintains permissions, information about cloud artifacts such as virtual images and patterns, and resource usage (for chargeback). The WebSphere CloudBurst Appliance is a secure hardware appliance that represents such a cloud manager. It optimizes the configuration, deployment, and management of WebSphere Application Server environments in a cloud.”

—“Rapid WebSphere Application Provisioning with WebSphere CloudBurst Appliance” (2009)

Around 2009, IBM Workload Deployer (IWD) was released with essentially the same function as WebSphere CloudBurst Appliance. The appliance’s form factor was changed and it was marketed more heavily as a cloud offering. A wider offering of patterns and tools was delivered with the appliance. The software internals were essentially the same as WebSphere CloudBurst Appliance. See Figure 1, but imagine an IWD appliance. This quote from an architectural overview of IBM Workload Deployer showcases the capabilities of the appliance:

“The IBM Workload Deployer provisions both standard and customized middleware virtual images and patterns to the cloud. It can also monitor application workload demand conditions and adjust resource allocation to achieve established service level agreements. The appliance manages individual user and group access to resources. IBM Workload Deployer integrates with development and service management tools from IBM Rational® and IBM Tivoli® for architectural, design, development, management, and monitoring purposes.”

An Architectural Overview of IBM Workload Deployer” (2012)

In 2012, IBM dramatically changed the cloud market when it debuted as IBM PureApplication System. The same tenets of WCA and IWD were carried forward with PureApplication System (the ability to provision patterns in a repeatable and predictable manner). With WCA and IWD, the appliance was connected to a private cloud. The most obvious change with PureApplication System was that the appliance, in this case the rack, became the cloud. The rack contains all the components needed for a cloud: compute nodes, storage and networking. This statement provides a summary of PureApplication System’s capabilities:

“The IBM PureApplication System is a workload optimized and integrated hardware and software solution. It features integrated management capabilities, which allows self-service provisioning of elastic applications, databases, and middlewares. With PureApplication System, the middleware, development, and deployment expertise are integrated and optimized from the factory.“

—“Adopting IBM PureApplication System V1.0” (2013)

Through the brief history of these products, the key capability of deploying and managing workloads has been carried through the product line. In PureApplication System, there is a PureSystems Manager (PSM) node that hosts system administration and workload deployer functions. The PSM’s workload deployer function allows application patterns to allocate system and application resources for optimal performance, security and reliability.

The next chapter in PureSystems family history will be written by IBM PureApplication Service on SoftLayer, which was announced in March 2014. PureApplication Service on SoftLayer makes key PureApplication Server capabilities such as virtual machine (VM) management, the PSM and pattern technologies available as services on IBM SoftLayer. As shown in Figure 3, SoftLayer provides computing, storage and networking through its public cloud infrastructure.

 IPAS history PureAppServiceFigure 3. PureApplication Service on SoftLayer

PureApplication Service on SoftLayer is the next generation of hybrid cloud. An enterprise can use this offering in many different ways. One scenario uses PureApplication Service on SoftLayer as a development and test bed. PureApplication System might then be used as a production platform. In another scenario, applications might run on premises on PureApplication System, but as more capacity is needed, PureApplication Service on SoftLayer can be used to add capacity.

In addition to the publications about each of the offerings that are discussed in this post, check out this YouTube video: What aspect of PureApplication Systems is running on the SoftLayer public cloud infrastructure?


The future is right around the corner. What do think the next chapter in this history book look like?

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Addison Goering

About Addison Goering

Addison Goering is a Certified IT Specialist with the WebSphere Education team. His main specialty is the design, development, and delivery of courses in the WebSphere product family. He has developed and delivered courses ranging from webinars to week-long workshops on products such as WebSphere ESB, IBM Workload Deployer, WebSphere Application Server, WebSphere Business Services Fabric, and WebSphere BPM. He is the lead developer on the WebSphere Education team that is developing education on IBM PureApplication System. Addison holds a B.S. in education from Keene State College in New Hampshire, mainframe certification from DePaul University in Chicago, and several certifications from IBM. He is the father of five children and plays as much golf as possible in between shuttling children.