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How to Navigate your Hybrid Multicloud Vision with IBM Power Systems

Today, cloud computing provides many opportunities to run your enterprise infrastructure more effectively, including on-demand access to compute resources, disaster recovery solutions, invisible infrastructure maintenance, security patches, and more. Whether you’re creating an on-premises private cloud, leveraging one or more off-premises public clouds (i.e., multicloud) or taking a hybrid cloud approach, cloud infrastructure capabilities can expand your business opportunities. 

Given this broad range of technologies, how can IBM Power Systems users, running IBM AIX®, IBMi, and Linux® enterprise apps, understand these capabilities and create a technology roadmap in an approachable and methodical manner? 

A Clear Vision 

A recent Gartner survey showed that 81% of organizations utilizing public cloud services are using more than one public cloud provider.1 And, according to the RightScale 2019 State of Cloud report, “Enterprises are prioritizing a balance of public and private clouds.”2 Hybrid multicloud has become a reality for enterprise and technology leaders. Yet, there is a need for a clear vision of how to navigate and operate in this environment. 

What is Hybrid Multicloud? 

A hybrid cloud is a computing environment that combines a private cloud and a public cloud by allowing applications and data to be shared between them. A multicloud refers to a cloud environment made of more than one cloud service from more than one cloud vendor. Thus, a hybrid multicloud combines a private cloud, a public cloud, and more than one cloud service from more than one cloud vendor. A multicloud strategy can unlock tremendous organizational value, because it combines the best of both private cloud and public cloud. It allows organizations to run mission-critical applications and host sensitive data on-premises. It offers the flexibility of public cloud. It also enables the movement of information between the private and public services. 

Hybrid Multicloud Motivators and Use Cases 

There are several motivators driving enterprises to construct a hybrid multicloud platform. Let’s explore some of the more prevalent scenarios for POWER customers (several of them are often pursued in parallel): 

  • Deliver streamlined deployment of enterprise resources, including AIX, IBM i and Linux virtual machines (LPARs), and containerized apps 

Users have grown to expect easy and on-demand access to IT resources through a cloud experience. Developers, QA engineers, and line-of-business users want simplified access to infrastructure and applications. IT administrators want trusted enterprise-grade security and simplified operations. Streamlining all of these processes is made possible by adopting Power Systems hybrid multicloud technologies and processes within the data center. 

  • Increase operational and budgetary flexibility by way of leveraging IBM Power Systems in a public cloud 

One of public cloud’s major advantages is that it provides effectively limitless access to compute capacity billed as an operational expense. With a few clicks of the mouse on, users get immediate access to new virtual machines or containers — where they want, when they want. IBM Cloud is the perfect place to spin up QA, production or high availability (HA), and disaster recovery (DR) environments for your Power Systems estate. 

  • Modernize existing applications to adopt cloud-native software development principles (e.g., containers and microservices) 

Containers, Kubernetes, and Red Hat® OpenShift® have unquestionably transformed how software is packaged, installed, and operated — paving the way for new software delivery models. To that end, enterprises worldwide are exploring container technology and developing plans on how to integrate them into their technology stacks, while delicately balancing the ongoing business need to deploy, manage, operate, and integrate with today’s virtual machine-based applications. 

  • Integrate IBM Power Systems with the broader cloud strategy 

As the industry shifts towards hybrid multicloud, a comprehensive cloud management strategy has become increasingly important. According to the RightScale 2019 State of Cloud Report, “enterprises, optimizing cloud costs (84 percent in 2019 vs. 80 percent in 2018) and cloud governance (84 percent in 2019 vs. 77 percent in 2018) are growing challenges.” 2 Long gone are the days of building siloed infrastructures. Enterprises are striving towards a model of interconnectedness so that the collective strength of their platforms and cloud providers can be leveraged to create the next wave of innovation. 

High-level Reference Architecture 

Power Systems is architected to economically scale mission-critical data intensive apps, either virtual-machine based or containerized — delivering industry leading reliability to run them and reduce the cost of operations with built-in virtualization to optimize capacity utilization. It also provides flexibility and choice to deploy apps in the cloud of your choice. 

From a cloud deployment perspective, the on-premises private cloud solution includes PowerVC that provides the infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) layer and Shared Utility Capacity (previously Enterprise pools 2.0) to deliver a pay-per-use consumption model with permanent activation of installed capacity. These solutions deliver agility and economics of cloud in an on-premises environment while enabling organizations to rapidly respond to shifts in workload demand. 

Power Systems servers are also available in the IBM Cloud and other public clouds, providing flexibility and choice to deploy HA/DR, DevTest, and more. Sitting atop the infrastructure layer is Red Hat OpenShift, which provides the enterprise Kubernetes platform-as-a-service (PaaS) layer. OpenShift users can run their software of choice, including IBM’s enterprise software delivered via IBM Cloud Paks™, ISV software, open source software, and custom enterprise software. To manage and operate everything from a centralized location, the IBM Cloud Pak for Multicloud Management can be used to connect the historically separate cloud infrastructures. Lastly, the Red Hat Ansible® Automation Platform can be leveraged across the entire landscape to provide a consistent approach to manage all of your operating systems cloud infrastructures — regardless of the platforms you’re running. 

Journey to the Hybrid Multicloud 

The path to hybrid multicloud begins with a solid foundation of infrastructure and hardware management capabilities. From there, users are directed towards establishing a cloud experience within their own data center (i.e., a private cloud), offering simplified virtualization management and operations, advanced automation, and a platform to start building innovative cloud-native applications leveraging Red Hat OpenShift, Kubernetes, and containers. As a parallel track to establishing a private cloud, it is also recommended to explore the public cloud to spin up QA, production or high availability (HA) and disaster recovery (DR) environments without the need to procure and administer the infrastructure in your data center. Lastly, users need to establish robust connectivity between their on-premises and off-premises infrastructures so that applications and data can flow seamlessly between the two. 

Deploy Hybrid Cloud on IBM Power Systems 

Ensure business continuity and lower IT acquisition costs with on-premises private cloud 

The IBM Private Cloud Solution with Shared Utility Capacity lowers IT acquisition costs and delivers a by-the-minute pay-per-use consumption model in an on-premises environment. The base capacity that a user has to purchase is as low as 1 core and 256 GB. Users can buy capacity credits for resource usage above the base capacity. They can also add multiple systems in the pool. When resource usage exceeds the aggregated base of the pool, capacity credits will be debited in real-time, based on by-the-minute resource consumption. 

In addition, Shared Utility Capacity delivers cloud-like economics in both enterprise and scale-out POWER9 based Power Systems. It provides multiple benefits to users. The low base capacity reduces IT acquisition costs by up to 58%. With the fully activated pay-per-use capacity, customers have additional capacity that is only charged when it is consumed. This additional capacity ensures business continuity during demand spikes. With multisystem resource sharing in the pool, customers have the flexibility to balance workloads across systems and optimize resource utilization. The by-the-minute metering also helps users to only pay for the precise capacity they consume. 

IBM Power Virtualization Center (PowerVC) provides on-premises enterprise virtualization management for Power Systems, inclusive of AIX, IBM I, and Linux guests. Built on OpenStack, it provides a multi-tenant IaaS layer in your data center, allowing administrators to quickly provision new virtual machines in minutes. 

It also provides numerous operational benefits such as one-click system evacuation for simplified server maintenance, dynamic resource optimization (DRO) to balance server usage during peak times, automated virtual machine restart to recover from failures, importing and exporting virtual machine images for cloud mobility, and more. It also enables DevOps capabilities such as “infrastructure as code” by way of Ansible or HashiCorp Terraform. Terraform can provision Power resources through PowerVC by leveraging the out-of-box OpenStack provider. PowerVC provides the foundational technology on top of which the rest of the on-premises POWER cloud stack is built. 

Reduce data center footprint and get cloud agility with public cloud 

IBM Power Systems Virtual Server integrates AIX, IBM i and Linux capabilities into the IBM Cloud experience and is available on POWER9 based Power Systems. Users receive fast, self-service provisioning, flexible management and access to a stack of enterprise IBM Cloud services with pay-per-use billing. Users can easily export virtual machine images in the standard OVA format from PowerVC and upload them into the IBM Cloud for easy back and forth image mobility. With this public cloud solution, POWER users can grow at their own pace and run enterprise workloads when and where they choose with a variety of flexible operating systems, compute, storage, and networking configurations. 

Simplify Hybrid Cloud Management 

IBM Cloud Pak for Multicloud Management can run on Red Hat OpenShift and provide a single control point to manage a hybrid IT environment. This provides consistent visibility, governance, and automation across the entire hybrid multicloud landscape, bridging traditional virtual machine apps with new cloud-native container apps. Offered as part of this Cloud Pak are three critically important management applications to hybrid multicloud: 

  • Infrastructure Management (formerly known as CloudForms) provides centralized management and dashboarding of the virtual infrastructure components (e.g., virtual machines, volumes, networks, etc.) across hybrid cloud. It also offers connectivity to major public cloud infrastructures, including PowerVC for on premises management of your Power Systems environment. 
  • IBM Cloud Automation Manager (CAM) provides advanced multicloud orchestration capabilities. Using HashiCorp Terraform as its underlying engine, CAM enables connectivity to numerous cloud infrastructures, including PowerVC (OpenStack), IBM Cloud, AWS®, Azure®, Google®, and several others. CAM can provision virtual machines, including LPARs via PowerVC, as well as containers. This allows users to create software catalog entries that build complex multi-tier applications with a single click. And, because CAM is delivered as part of an IBM Cloud Pak, it runs on Red Hat OpenShift, creating a centralized service catalog from which you can deploy all your applications. 
  • IBM Multicloud Manager (MCM) provides a single multicloud dashboard that enables organizations to oversee multiple cloud endpoints on public or private cloud infrastructures. MCM provides consistent visibility, governance, and automation across a hybrid multicloud environment. 

Achieve Consistent Enterprise IT Automation with Ansible 

Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform is enabled for IBM Power Systems3 across AIX and IBM i environments and runs on Power Systems private and public cloud infrastructures. Red Hat Ansible Certified Content for IBM Power Systems helps you include workloads on Power Systems as part of your wider enterprise automation strategy through the Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform ecosystem. Enterprises already using Ansible for other IT infrastructure, such as x86 or IBM Z servers, can seamlessly integrate Power servers as well. The Ansible content helps enable DevOps automation through unified workflow orchestration with configuration management, provisioning, and application deployment in one, easy-to-use platform. This is an important step in delivering a comprehensive enterprise-grade solution for building and operating IT automation at scale. 

Build Modern Cloud-Native Apps with IBM Cloud Paks and Red Hat OpenShift 

IBM Cloud Paks care enterprise-ready containerized software solutions that provide an open, fast, and secure way to move core business applications to any cloud. They are lightweight and easy to run, certified by IBM and Red Hat. Each Cloud Pak sits atop Red Hat OpenShift and can run anywhere on-premises, in the cloud or at the edge. 

Cloud Paks are comprised of a set of containerized IBM middleware and common software services. IBM offers six Cloud Paks: IBM Cloud Pak for Applications, IBM Cloud Pak for Data, IBM Cloud Pak for Integration, 

IBM Cloud Pak for Automation, IBM Cloud Pak for Multicloud Management, and IBM Cloud Pak for Security. Each offering provides a broad set of capabilities for a particular domain. 

Red Hat OpenShift is the industry-leading platform-as-a-service (PaaS) technology built on Kubernetes, fully enabled and supported on IBM Power Systems. Red Hat OpenShift provides an infrastructure-independent common operating environment that serves as a common foundation across both private and public cloud, making it the de-facto standard fabric for hybrid cloud infrastructures. Red Hat OpenShift provides a trusted platform from which to build new cloud-native, container-based applications. It also provides a broad set of open source software, including IBM enterprise middleware (via IBM Cloud Paks) and ISV software. 

Integrations with Other Cloud Orchestrators 

VMware vRealize Automation™ (vRA) speeds up the delivery of infrastructure and application resources through a policy-based self-service portal, on-premises, and in public cloud. In addition to x86 VMware-based virtual machines, vRA is able to provision Power virtual machines (including AIX, IBM i, and Linux) with PowerVC, providing the ability to orchestrate deployments across hybrid cloud. 

VMware vRealize Operations for IBM Power Systems brings together all management functions including performance management, capacity, cost analytics, planning, topology analysis, and troubleshooting in one integrated, highly intuitive, scalable, and extensible platform. It also provides deep insights and key performance indicators for enterprise applications, including SAP HANA, Db2, Oracle, and several others. This comprehensive monitoring solution is a perfect complement to a cloud management software stack as it provides a broad and deep perspective into what is happening in the cloud. 

We hope our commitment to delivering open and flexible solutions for your hybrid multicloud journey will help you leverage partner cloud technologies and seamlessly integrate Power Systems with the rest of your data center. 

Seamlessly Integrate with IBM Power Systems 

With the right advice and solutions, IT leaders can seamlessly integrate IBM Power Systems into their overall hybrid multicloud strategy. Whether you are looking to streamline virtual machine deployments, operations via a private cloud, leverage the flexibility of public cloud, modernize applications with microservices, containers and Kubernetes, innovate with AI, or build a hybrid multicloud, POWER has a solution. 

Let us help you identify the next steps in your journey to the hybrid multicloud world. Reach out to Data Integrity, a Power Systems sales representative and IBM Gold business partner. 

1 “Why Organizations Choose a Multicloud Strategy,” Laurence Goasduff, Gartner, May 2019 

2 “Rightscale 2019 State of the Cloud Report: See the Latest Cloud Trends.” Flexera, January 2019 

3 Some Ansible content is only available in open source form from Ansible Galaxy.