Integrated Systems & Virtualization for Midsize Business – IBM #expertsyschat

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Earlier today @IBMPureSystems held a #ExpertSysChat discussion on Twitter; they run these periodically about a variety of issues surrounding Cloud & Virtualization adoption. Obviously they have a product in this area but the discussions tend to be interesting.

Generally they get an independent expert to chair the discussion and propose questions, a selection of IBM staff are on-hand to answer questions and stimulate the debate. Today Paul Gillin (@pgillin) chaired the discussion, below are each of the questions and my notes from the responses.

Q1: What ROI benefits does @IBMPureSystems deliver beyond more computing power?

  • Integrated systems (server, storage, network) simplify management
  • Business agility, time to market (days or weeks, not months)
  • One support contract for all the components
  • High density shared services (rather than idling tin)

Q2: Aren’t expert integrated systems too complex for midsize businesses to implement?

  • Complexity is likely less than a roll-your-own solution
  • Alternative is ‘public cloud’ which could have prohibitive data issues
  • Turn-key solution, building their own is likely not their core business
  • Frees resources to focus on the core business (doing things faster)

Q3: What common concerns do midsize businesses have when considering virtualization?

  • Utilisation, reuse and resource sharing
  • Predicting demand and forecasting future hardware spend
  • Vendor lock-in through either tools or data formats
  • Confusion around the ecosystem of tools/platforms (VMware? OpenStack? etc.)

Q4: How can virtualization help with the cost and complexity of infrastructure management?

  • Improve utilisation of resources (more bang for less bucks)
  • Time to market – days/weeks for resources, not months
  • Simplifies management of daily operations and capacity planning (keeping the lights on)
  • Elegantly handling failures (reprovisioning virtual machines, switching over to backup networks)

Q5: What are some essential requirements for simplifying a data center at a midsize biz?

  • Self-service, automation – not adding to the trouble-ticket backlog
  • Agility to respond to business demands (flexibly and quickly)
  • Scalability to expand capacity and deal with unexpected demand
  • Reliability & Availability reduce or eradicate downtime

Q6: #IBM says @IBMPureSystems is designed ‘with cloud in mind.’ What exactly does that mean?

  • Portability of data (ability to migrate to and from the platform)
  • Ability to ‘burst’ into a hybrid cloud with a compatible provider

For a bit of fun I threw my own question out there;

Q: If you had to name one failing of Virtualization (as it stands today) what do you think it would be? tools? complexity?

  • Complexity
  • Communication (between ops & dev)
  • Operational / support costs (retraining staff)
  • The fact you have to manage it at all

Final Thought

From my point of view I can totally see some of the problems, SMB’s want some of the promise of Cloud and Virtualisation. On the face of it solutions like OpenStack/CloudStack imply you can roll-you-own easily, but in reality it’s never quite that simple (I know, I’ve tried). At the same time the rise of the DevOps culture means every Developer feels they could do a better job than IT and just deploy/manage it themselves on Heroku or Amazon EC2.

I have been guilty of knowing that launching a sexy new web-application is going to need:

  • someone from Infrastructure Design to validate what I’m proposing,
  • followed by a review by someone in Network Design,
  • only to go to someone who will order machines from a supplier,
  • for them to be delivered 4 months later,
  • be PAT tested,
  • have the OS installed by the UNIX team,
  • and finally scheduled for racking.

Naturally the temptation to whip out a credit card and launch/manage it on Cloud infrastructure in a matter of minutes is all too strong.

In my humble opinion, the future of the Business IT function is going to be embracing technologies that enable them to be far more agile to the changing needs of their businesses. The company that figure out how to get this balance spot-on is going to come out on top. IBM PureSystems looks like a step in the right direction.


The next #ExpertSysChat is scheduled for August 29th, “How can Expert Integrated Systems accelerate Results for Today’s Global Businesses”.

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