When someone is talking about how great his product is, I just look at the restrictions that it has. When someone says “appliance” or “optimized for some application,” the first thought that comes to my mind is where I can use it and where I cannot.
The product can be anything—an appliance for a database, an application system, or cloud—and the most critical aspect that I think about is flexibility:
- Storage flexibility
- Processor flexibility
- Application flexibility
- Virtualization capability and flexibility
In short, when I think of a great solution, I don’t want to think of the “what if” or “will I be able to” questions. IBM’s new solution provides end-to-end flexibility that no other solution in the market can match. IBM came up with a new term, expert integrated systems for this new category of systems that combine the flexibility of a general purpose system with the simplicity of an appliance with integrated expertise throughout. Expert integrated systems are not a bunch of systems put together, (such as some servers with a database or application). Expert integrated systems are based on “patterns of expertise” that automatically balance, manage, and optimize the elements necessary—from the underlying hardware resources up through the middleware and software—to deliver and manage today’s modern business processes, services, and applications.
IBM Flex System is a family of expert integrated systems that span from fully configurable systems to preconfigured application platforms. IBM PureFlex System is the infrastructure system with the integrated computing system that combines servers, enterprise storage, networking, virtualization, and management into a single structure.
In the beginning I was talking about flexibility. In a majority of the appliances, there is the vendor “lock-in.” The appliance works only with one vendor storage, or one virtualization solution, or one application, or a combination of all. IBM, however, is not going for the vendor lock-in approach; instead IBM promotes flexibility.
IBM Flex System infrastructure platform offers an integrated disk storage solution. Unlike other competitor solutions that incorporate disk storage, IBM’s goal is to not lock-in. Integrated storage has the capability of storage virtualization: Customers can use their existing storage by virtualizing third-party storage with non-disruptive migration of the current storage infrastructure.
By virtualizing and consolidating storage, IBM helps customers reduce administrative costs and improve cycle time. Also with the tiered storage capability, customers will be able to build out automated tiered storage architecture to maximize performance and reduce operating expenses by efficient use of solid state drives (SSDs) to increase performance of critical applications and migrate less accessed data to less expensive disks automatically.
With IBM Flex System, IBM offers the choice of both the newest x86 and POWER7-based processors, in the same infrastructure, with unified management. Customers can choose the correct platform for their workload.
Because the infrastructure system provides flexibility in compute nodes, flexibility in virtualization is also offered to customers. IBM Flex System’s virtualization capability is based on VMControl, and VMControl provides workload placement based on virtual machine compatibility and resource availability. With VMControl, customers can manage virtual machines from a variety of hypervisors, such as VMware ESX, VMware vCenter, Hyper-V, KVM, and PowerVM from one window.
One aspect to remember about the real value of VMControl: With VMControl, administrators will shift from managing virtualization to using virtualization to manage.
IBM is working with more than 100 ISVs to provide customers the flexibility for their workloads. SAP, Microsoft, VMware, SAS, Juniper, Red Hat, SUSE, Dassault and Schlumberger are some of the 100+ ISVs that will have their applications ready for IBM Flex System.
In summary, defining one added value for IBM Flex System is not easy—it is a collection of real values added for the customers. IBM Flex System is the new family of expert integrated systems with these features:
- Built-in expertise to address complex business and operational tasks automatically
- Integration by design to tune systems for optimal performance and efficiency
- Simplified experience from purchase to maintenance
With these aspects in mind, IBM Flex System provides all of these elements with unmatched flexibility.