IBM SmartCloud Enterprise unleashed II

Originally written for and posted on ThoughtsOnCloud.com.

This blog posting will elaborate some of the capabilities of SmartCloud Enterprise and detail some usage scenarios. The usage scenarios show you what different types of functionality can be offered by combining SmartCloud Enterprise capabilities with and without third-party capabilities to get ready business functionality.

If you’ve missed the first blog posting, detailing the capabilities of, and how to use and configure IBM SmartCloud Enterprise to fit your business needs and add the most value, you can also find it here or on the official IBM cloud blog thoughtoncloud.com.

What’s new

Since May SmartCloud Enterprise has gone though some significant improvements with enhanced features, Microsoft License Mobility and ISO/IEC 27001:2005 certification.

IBM SmartCloud Enterprise 2.1

The May 17, 2012 version 2.1 was announced, enabling the following new features and capabilities:

  • New service level agreement (SLA) of 99.9% SmartCloud Enterprise gives clients confidence in factoring cloud-centric applications for a broad array of workloads.
  • Two new Red Hat Enterprise Linux operating systems; Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.8 will add new and improved functionality for enhanced performance, flexibility and security while Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.2 delivers improvements in virtualization, resource management and high availability, and offers new features in storage, file system performance and identity management.
  • Upgrades to the persistent storage system, enabling increased speed and performance, and upgrades to embedded KVM hypervisors providing greater security and performance improvements.

Microsoft License Mobility

IBM is now an Authorized Mobility Partner for Microsoft License Mobility through Software Assurance. This new relationship allows IBM SmartCloud Services offering, including IBM SmartCloud Enterprise (SCE) and SmartCloud Enterprise+ (SCE+), customers to move their existing “on-premise” licenses to our cloud offerings. The portability of a customer’s select Microsoft application licenses is covered under Microsoft’s License Mobility through System Assurance. Additional information about this new capability can be found on the IBM SmartCloud website here

ISO/IEC certification

Since June 2012 SmartCloud Enterprise has officially achieved certification to ISO/IEC 27001:2005. The certificate covers the planning, design, implementation and operation of IBM Smart Cloud Services, including SmartCloud Enterprise (SCE), encompassing local and global capabilities. The certification covers all SCE data centres in Canada, Germany, Japan, Singapore and the United States.
ISO/IEC 27001 is an auditable international standard which defines the requirements for an Information Security Management System (ISMS). The standard is designed to ensure the selection of adequate and proportionate security controls.

  • Demonstrates independent assurance of internal controls and that we meet corporate governance and business continuity requirements.
  • Independently verifies properly identified, assessed and managed information security processes, procedures and documentation.
  • Validates senior management’s commitment to the security of its information.

Functional usage scenarios

Technical capabilities are great, but functionality that offers business value is even better. Using this though I have written down a few use cases that can offer great business value, by using the capabilities of SmartCloud Enterprise.

Discover the rich capabilities of object storage

To demonstrate you the rich capabilities of SmartCloud Enterprise – object storage, I will shortly describe one of the use cases that offers unique functionality.
By combining the geographical redundant capabilities of object storage with a 3rd party storage front-end you are able to quickly and efficiently implement enterprise grade “Dropbox” functionality. Object storage makes sure that the files are securely and redundantly stored in a pay-for-use fashion, which the 3rd party software allows you to access the files from anywhere, using any device in a secure way. And with secure I mean multiple layers of security, Active Directory or LDAP integration, enterprise ownership and control of information while using HTTPS, AES 256 bit encryption.

DevOps in the cloud

A few weeks ago we have started to open up a pilot on the first set of platform (PaaS) services on top of SmartCloud Enterprise. The first release will offer collaborative lifecycle management service, also known as DevOps and application workload service. Read this thoughtsoncloud.com blog posting on what DevOps is, what the benefits can be and what tools you can use for it.
The complete set of platform services, called SmartCloud Application Services, will offer managed middleware services like relational database service and integration service to support a full lifecycle of accelerated application development, deployment and delivery. Read more here.

IBM Innovation Center events

IBM Innovation Center offers a wide range of no-charge workshops, seminars, and briefings conducted by highly trained subject matter experts. Our events help you build technical skills, learn how to market and sell more effectively with IBM, and connect with other Business Partners. Upcoming events are:

IBM SmartCloud Services solutions showcase

The Ready for IBM SmartCloud Services solutions showcase features applications, software, and tools from IBM Business Partners that run on IBM SmartCloud. These solutions have gone through the Ready for IBM SmartCloud Services validation process to ensure compatibility with SmartCloud Services.
Learn about business partner solutions on IBM SmartCloud Enterprise which you can use to accelerate your migration to the cloud. Have a valuable software solution to share; demonstrate your commitment to quality in the IT cloud industry and show your customers that your solution meets IBM validation criteria for the IBM SmartCloud Enterprise public cloud offering.

Technical usage scenarios

Sample API uses

Some of the more advanced SmartCloud Enterprise capabilities is only available though the API and not though the portal. This paragraph will show you some of these advanced capabilities and their practical use.

Usage reports

Since release 2.0 of the IBM SmartCloud Enterprise, you can get usage reports from the IBM SmartCloud Enterprise. This report provides usage information about SmartCloud Enterprise resources. The data within this report may not reconcile with monthly billing information you receive from IBM, the reports contain information for your operations only. These reports are available via the API and portal and must be requested using an admin user only. You can request a report for the current period or a previous period. Two csv format reports are available; A summary report (csvsummary) and a more detailed report (csvdetail). Read more on this blog posting.

Anti-collocation

If you´re building a high available architecture, two clustered instances with the same application for redundancy, you want to make sure that both the instances are running on physical different servers. This can be done by setting the anti-collocation parameter. For now it is only possible to manage two instances, and anti-collocation currently supports the segregation of physical hosts but does guarantee network switch individuality/uniqueness. More information about this parameter can be found in the API documentation on the portal under the support tab.

Where to backup your data in SmartCloud Enterprise

There are many choices for backing up your data using the capabilities that SmartCloud Enterprise offer. The Virtual Machine itself (instance, operating system (OS), application (App)) can be backed up using different techniques, however the only way it can be restored is from an image of the instance.
In the image on the left we see the three types of storage the SmartCloud Enterprise offers:

  • Ephemeral; Comes with the instance, will be wiped once the instance is shut down.
  • Persistent; Can be attached to an instance, will remain until storage is deleted.
  • Object; Is hosted in separate data centers, even with the option to spread your data automatically across multiple geographic locations. Data will remain until storage is deleted.

You can use any of these storage types to backup (copy) your data from/to on file level manually, scripted or using almost any specific backup software solution available.

Persistent storage can also be cloned to the same or a different SmartCloud Enterprise data center, same as you can copy your instance image to another SmartCloud Enterprise data center.

Object storage can be used for securing files using either a software NAS (network attached storage), which allows you to connect to your files using standard file sharing protocols like SMB, CIFS and NFS, or you can use one of the specific backup solution available that can directly communicate with the object storage API

If you would like to know more on this, read this developerWorks article Recover data in IBM SmartCloud Enterprise, explore backup and restore options in the IBM Cloud.

Data center to IBM SmartCloud Enterprise migration

In the former blog post I already mentioned ways to import images into SmartCloud Enterprise, read this thoughtsoncloud.com blog posting on extending these capabilities with a specific vendor solution set from CohesiveFT. Cohesive’s technologies in image import, deployment, and contextualization have exploited some of the newest features of IBM SmartCloud Enterprise to solve the migration issues when moving to cloud, and have done it with a sleek SaaS portal named the Elastic Server.

Transfer image assets between different accounts

IBM SmartCloud Enterprise accounts are enabled in such a way that shared images are only visible from within the same account. Usually, the shared images are images customized by the enterprise to fulfill specific business needs, but there are more and more cases in which a customer has different SmartCloud Enterprise accounts for different purposes (such as development, pre-production, production, testing), and the customer wants to share such private image assets among different accounts to both protect the assets and avoid duplicate work effort. IBM SmartCloud Enterprise provides an amazing solution for such requirements. Read this step-by-step guide to transferring an image from one account to another. One prerequisite for this task is that the operator has to have the credentials for both accounts.

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