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IBM Targets Private Clouds with New PureSystems

While public and private clouds are changing the economics and delivery model of computing, IBM hopes to shake up the status quo of how systems are configured and supplied.

Big Blue on Wednesday said it will deliver a new class of hardware and software this quarter that it believes will reshape how servers, storage, networks, middleware and applications are packaged, set up and managed in datacenters run by enterprises, hosting facilities and cloud service providers.

IBM describes PureSystems as "expert integrated systems" because they consist of turnkey, multicore servers that are tightly bundled with storage and network interfaces and feature automated scaling and virtualization. The company will also offer versions of PureSystems bundled with middleware including IBM's WebSphere and DB2 database. And IBM is offering, through its partners, models tuned with various vertical and general-purpose applications. The systems will all include a single management interface.

Gearing up for this week's launch, IBM told partners at its PartnerWorld Leadership conference in New Orleans in late February of the coming rollout of what insiders internally called "Project Troy."

The company is initially releasing two models. The first is PureFlex System, designed for those looking to procure raw, virtual compute infrastructure in a turnkey bundle. The systems include caching, scaling and monitoring software. "Essentially it's focused on the infrastructure as a service level of integration of all the hardware and system resources, including cloud, virtualization and provisioning, which will take standard virtual images as patterns for effective deployment," said Marie Wieck, general manger of IBM Software Group's Application and Integration Middleware business unit.

The second offering, PureApplication System, builds on top of PureFlex by including IBM's WebSphere and DB2. With the addition of those components, the PureApplications System offers platform-as-a-service capabilities, Wieck said. Both offerings will be delivered as a single SKU and offer a single source of support.

The bundling, or datacenter-in-a-box approach, itself is not what makes PureSystems unique though. Cisco, Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Oracle all offer converged systems. But IBM appears to be upping the ante with its so-called "scale-in" systems design by which all of those components and applications are automatically configured, scaled and optimized.

IBM also has teamed up with 125 key ISVs, including Dassault Systèmes, EnterpriseDB, Fiserv, SAP, SAS, Sophos and SugarCRM, who are enabling their apps to be customized and tailored using what IBM calls "patterns of expertise" that embed automated configuration and management capabilities.

With these embedded technologies, IBM claims customers can get PureSystems up and running in one-third the amount of time it takes to set up traditional systems, while substantially reducing the cost of managing those assets, which it says now can consume on average 70 percent of an organization's operational budget.

Designed with cloud computing principles in mind, IBM said the new PureSystems automatically scale up or down CPU, storage and network resources. IBM offers a common management interface for all of the infrastructure and applications. The company claims the cost of licensing apps is more than 70 percent less than when purchased with traditional systems.

"This is a whole different discussion, they are creating packages that perform like never seen before," said analyst Joe Clabby, president of Clabby Analytics. "In effect, IBM has distilled decades of hardware, middleware and software design and development experience into PureSystems, resulting in solutions with deeply integrated system and automated management capabilities," added analyst Charles King of PundIT, in a research note.

"The company is also offering additional integration related to specific applications and software packages that can be implemented at the factory, so PureSystems are ready out of the box for quick and easy deployment. In essence, IBM has taken what were once (and for most other vendors, still are) highly customized, usually high-priced solutions and made them into standardized SKUs that can be easily ordered, deployed and implemented to address serious existing and emerging IT challenges."

The PureSystems line will also appeal to ISVs and systems integrators that want to deliver their software as a service, according to Wieck. "It's not just the integration of the hardware components that is as compelling as the integrated management across the environments and the resources that are applied and the software necessary to manage those resources," she said.

PureSystems were brought together by a cross-section of IBM's business units, including its Tivoli systems management group, Rational development tools unit, which is the software business that develops its WebSphere infrastructure platform and DB2 and its server and storage divisions. IBM acquired the networking components from Blade Network Technologies in 2010.

The systems are also available in a number of configurations, powered by the company's own Power processing platform running Linux or IBM's AIX implementation of Unix, or Intel-based CPUs that can run Linux or Microsoft's Windows Server. Customers can configure the systems with a number of virtualization options including VMware, KVM, Microsoft Hyper-V and IBM PowerVM, as well as any virtual machine that supports the Open Virtualization Format (OVF) standard.

Entry-level systems consisting of 96-core CPUs will start at $100,000. High-performance configurations with up to 608 cores will run into the millions of dollars.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on April 12, 2012


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