IBM Launches Private Cloud to Ease Public Cloud Transition

IBM on Wednesday announced IBM Cloud Private, a software platform that allows enterprise customers to run applications and store critical data in an on-premises, private cloud environment.

The new service employs a Kubernetes-based container architecture that supports both Docker containers and Cloud Foundry.

IBM also introduced new container-optimized versions of core enterprise software including Websphere Liberty, Db2 and MQ.

Companies in heavily regulated industries like finance and healthcare have embraced private clouds as they plan their transitions to public cloud environments, IBM said. Companies will spend an estimated US$50 billion per year on these efforts and grow private cloud business at an estimated rate of between 15 percent and 20 percent per year.

“Innovation and adoption of public cloud services has been constrained by the challenge of transitioning complex enterprise systems and applications into a true cloud native environment,” said Arvind Krishna, senior vice president for IBM Hybrid Cloud.

IBM Cloud Private brings “rapid application development and modernization” to existing IT infrastructure, he said, and allows it to be combined with the services of public cloud technology.

Building Blocks

IBM has played a key role in the development of cloud-based computing for the enterprise. It is a founding member of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, and just last month open-sourced its WebSphere Liberty Code to support Java microservices. More than 12 million Java and enterprise developers are managing legacy WebSphere and Db2 applications, according to IBM.

IBM and Google last month announced plans to open-source the Grafeas project, which is designed to help developers deal with security issues when working with containers.

The Grafeas technology has been one of the key building blocks for IBM Cloud for many years, said Chip Childers, chief technology officer of Cloud Foundry.

“Companies like American Airlines depend on IBM to provide an easy solution to deliver code to production, something Cloud Foundry Application Runtime excels at,” he told the E-Commerce Times. “This offering is a huge step in the right direction — it shows IBM doubling down on open source not just with Cloud Foundry, but also adding Kubernetes into the mix.”

The Cloud Private software contains several key features to help enterprises manage their applications and data, IBM said, including the following:

  • Cloud Management Automation — streamlined management across cloud environments to help launch, monitor and manage services, and maintain security.
  • Security and Data Encryption — Security Vulnerability Advisor to scan for potential vulnerabilities and in-flight data encryption.
  • Core Cloud Platform — a container engine, Kubernetes orchestration, Cloud Foundry and essential management tools surrounding developer runtimes.
  • Infrastructure Choice — compatibility with systems from technology firms including Cisco, Dell EMC, Intel, Lenovo and NetApp, as well as IBM Power Systems, IBM Z, and IBM Hyperconverged Systems, powered by Nutanix.
  • Data and Analytics — integration with database services including IBM Db2, PostGreSQL and MongoDB.
  • Application Support and DevOps Tools — containerized versions of IBM WebSphere Liberty middleware, Open Liberty, MQ and Microservice Builder and other frameworks are included in software bundles. APM, Netcool and UrbanCode can be added for an additional fee.

Ready to Launch

IBM is running pilot programs with Finnish pension firm Illmarinen and Chile’s Banco de Credito, according to spokesperson Joseph Collier. Illmarinen, which manages pensions that cover 900,000 people in that country, is expected to start regular production with Cloud Private by early 2018. BCI’s schedule was not immediately available.

IBM has certain built in competitive advantages as it strives to expand its increasingly critical cloud computing business to compete against Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and other data and information companies, suggested Jeff Kaplan, managing director of ThinkStrategies.

“IBM’s greatest comparative advantage is its ability to appeal to its installed base of enterprise companies that have made enormous investments in traditional data center systems and software, and still believe they need to rely on private cloud resources to support their corporate operations and objectives,” he told the E-Commerce Times.

The Cloud Private program is the “newest example of how IBM embraces modernization technologies,” Pund-IT Principal Analyst Charles King told the E-Commerce Times, “to ensure the continued relevancy of its various platforms and services.”

David Jones is a freelance writer based in Essex County, New Jersey. He has written for Reuters, Bloomberg, Crain's New York Business and The New York Times.

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