Featured on Thoughts on Cloud on January 7, 2013.

Cloud computing changes the way we think about technology. Cloud is a computing model providing web-based software, middleware and computing resources on demand. By deploying technology as a service, you give users access only to the resources they need for a particular task. This prevents you from paying for idle computing resources. Cloud computing can also go beyond cost savings by allowing your users to access the latest software and infrastructure offerings to foster business innovation.

The Business Value

Cloud computing is becoming an increasingly important technology which has already changed both business and everyday life – from consumers who perhaps unknowingly use it to access their favorite music to companies that purposely harness its powerful resources. While much activity and buzz relating to cloud computing involves its technological capabilities, the benefits of cloud adoption actually extend into the business realm. Its adoption is expected to accelerate rapidly, companies are already starting to embrace the power of cloud to optimize, innovate and disrupt business models. In a recent study by the IBM Institute for Business Value, for example, almost three-fourths of business leaders surveyed said that their companies have already piloted, adopted or substantially implemented cloud technologies. Ninety percent expect to have done so within three years.

There’s no one-size-fits-all cloud solution

Cloud computing has captured the attention of technology and business leaders alike, but the actual value it delivers to the organization varies with the application. When applied to the right workloads, cloud can deliver game-changing value. When applied to the wrong workloads, cloud’s value over traditional delivery models can be diminished or lost altogether. In selecting workloads for cloud, it is important to consider the soft, intangible benefits as well as the more visible and easily quantifiable benefits. After all, intangibles like customer satisfaction and quality of service are often significant elements of cloud value. For some workloads, they may represent the lion’s share of the value delivered.

IBM SmartCloud Infrastructure Services

IBM SmartCloud Infrastructure Services is the suite of IBM public cloud solutions, consisting of IBM SmartCloud Enterprise and IBM SmartCloud Enterprise+. Both enable you to align your infrastructure environment to the needs of your business in five ways:
Technology platform:

  • Establish dexterity across hypervisors and hardware platforms including IBM System x, IBM System i, IBM System z, IBM Power Systems and other key components.
  • Management, support and deployment: Gain greater transparency and control by choosing either a public cloud solution (IBM SmartCloud Enterprise) or a managed service (IBM SmartCloud Enterprise+).
  • Availability and performance: Achieve industry-leading service level agreements (SLAs), up to 99.9%.
  • Security and isolation: Choose a secure hosted infrastructure with options to configure firewalls, deploy VPN or VLAN to your data center, or access dedicated pods within secure IBM data centers.
  • Payment and billing: Access virtual machine resources with models tuned to your needs, from pay-as-you-go pricing to reserved capacity and optional managed services payment models.

IBM SmartCloud Enterprise is an agile computing infrastructure as a service (IaaS) designed to provide clients with rapid access to enterprise class cloud environments. When this service was launched, over two years ago, it was know as IBM Smart Business Development & Test. Originally intended for just development and test workloads, to both validate the stability and reliability of the platform and to fit to the market at that time which was all about orientation and experimenting with workloads in a public cloud.

Already a few months after the availability of the service, it was already used for production grade infrastructure services like batch processing, web hosting and a broad spectrum of born-on-the-web applications. This solution, developed for organizations that want a low-cost cloud environment suitable for running moderate-risk applications, can also help dramatically reduce the client’s IT costs.

The service provides the user with a managed portal, extensive catalog with IBM and non-IBM software images and ability to upload your own images, while allowing the user full control of everything above the managed hypervisor. This increases the flexibility of using the service and enables rapid provisioning (average 5  to 20 minutes). Find out more on my blog post IBM SmartCloud Enterprise Unleashed.

IBM SmartCloud Enterprise+ is an enterprise class cloud managed infrastructure as a service (IaaS). This service has been developed for driving business value and competitive advantage while reducing operational risk. It offers a robust, security rich, cost-effective multi-tenant private cloud infrastructure used for running production workloads (including SAP applications).

A broad range of architectural elements is provided, including hardware, hypervisor and isolation elements. With flexible configuration options, you can configure your cloud infrastructure to meet your unique needs. With access to a variety of standard options, you gain the flexibility to choose the appropriate configuration that meets both the capacity and performance requirements of your application workloads across many different types of use cases.

This scalable solution is designed to provide services that are optimized for our clients’ unique workload requirements and are delivered on a common cloud management architecture that will be utilized for future IBM SmartCloud offerings. A standard set of software images (operating system, middle-ware, databases) is readily available supported with committed service level agreements aligned to business and usage requirements.

IBM SmartCloud Enterprise+ Service capabilities include complete operating system (OS) monitoring and management services based on ITIL 3.0 best practices as well as complete deployment and management of the service environment. It offers higher levels of availability, reliability, service with integrated resiliency services and around-the-clock access to online support tools and live experts. Find out more on the IBM website.

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