IBM Brings Cloud Management In-House with New Console
May 8, 2017 Alex Woodie
Don’t be surprised to see the cloud seeping into your data center, because it’s all part of IBM’s plan. Yesterday during the COMMON Opening Session in Orlando, Florida, IBM executives gave the IBM i faithful a preview of a new Cloud Management Console that’s designed to enable customers to monitor and (eventually) manage their Power Systems environments from the comfort of the cloud.
Steve Sibley, IBM‘s director of worldwide product management for IBM’s Power Systems line, gave IT Jungle a preview of the new Cloud Management Console, which was expected to be one of three products announcements he planned to talk about during his keynote address Sunday morning at the COMMON Annual Meeting and Expo. (The other news pertained to a new DB2 for i connector for Watson, which Dan Burger tackles elsewhere in this issue, and the new GDR offering, which we covered last week.)
IBM plans to formally announce the Cloud Management Console on Tuesday. When it ships later this year, it will give users the ability to monitor a handful of Power Systems metrics, including server inventory, performance logs, and security updates, all from the comfort of a cloud console, according to Sibley.
“Our view is, even your data center is part of your cloud,” Sibley said. “You could have four data centers in different parts of the country, along with backup environments, and you’re able to see all those and be able to know where you need more resources, what actions you need to take on your infrastructure to keep it up to date. You’ll be managing it in a cloud-like way, even though it’s in the coziness of your own data center.”
IBM developed the new offering on its Bluemix cloud platform, which is where it lives. Clients will be able to log into the console to view the state of their Power Systems servers, including some level of detail about their IBM i, Linux, and AIX partitions. The console will be delivered securely through a Web browser running on any device.
Although smaller shops can certainly use it, the Cloud Management Console will be geared toward larger organizations that have multiple data centers and those with a large number of Power Systems boxes to manage, Sibley said.
“Certainly as you get up into 10 or more servers, this will provide a good monitoring tool for you, if you don’t already have something in place in a single data center,” he said. “If you have two, three, or four data centers in different environments for different reasons, this provides a really good aggregation of that information into a single place.”
The console will be heavily used by IT managers who are responsible for day-to-day operations, Sibley added. “A lot of IT managers are going to want to use this on a daily basis,” he said. “They’re going to be looking at and understanding performance and patch status, and the health of VMs – those types of things.”
While IT managers are the primary targets of the Cloud Management Console, executives will also find it worthwhile. “I actually just had a CIO tell me ‘This is going to be a great way for my team to show me how things are running,'” Sibley said. “So it’s going to be an operational tool for the IT management team, all the way up into getting their IT executives information about what’s running and how it’s running.”
Managed service providers (MSPs) that offer public or hybrid IBM i cloud offerings could also use the new offering. However, many of them have already built their own homegrown tools to monitor and manage multiple Power Systems servers, or bought a third-party system monitoring tool, such as HelpSystems Robot. In any case, they’re not the targeted users for this tool, according to Sibley.
Cloud Management Console will start with monitoring, but eventually it will gain some management capabilities too, such as the capability to start and stop virtual machines. It will eventually get hooks, via exposed APIs, into other tools, such as PowerVC, PowerHA, PowerVM, and the new Geographically Dispersed Resiliency (GDR) offering.
“We’re rolling out monitoring initially for a very specific reason,” Sibley said. “We think there could be some reluctance to allow management through the cloud, even though we think we’re going to get there, probably soon.”
When management capabilities are added to Cloud Management Console, it will be through integration with other tools that Power Systems shops run on premise, such as the OpenStack-based PowerVC console, Sibley said.
“We will add management capability over time,” he said. “As you get closer to the environment, you usually get more granular capability to turn knobs and do different things. But certainly things like managing partitions we anticipate to be able to do.”
The idea is to keep the Cloud Management Console as a fairly lightweight and purpose-built tool, as opposed to loading it up with functionality that is already addressed with other tools. “As you begin to grow that application space, it can become more and more complex,” Sibley said. “So you actually want to talk to those things through APIs, versus trying to replicate all the functionality and make a very heavyweight application in the cloud.”
IBM clients should have no qualms about signing into the Bluemix service to view sensitive information about their production Power Systems environments via the Cloud Management Console because it’s very secure, Sibley said. “We’re on a very secure cloud with this capability,” he said. “You’re the only one who has access to your data. IBM doesn’t even have access to your data and what we put into this service.”
As it does with other Bluemix offerings, IBM expects to introduce new monitoring and management capabilities fairly frequently, and often without formal announcements. In other words, don’t expect a formal IBM Announcement Letter to be notified about new capabilities added to the Cloud Management Console – or other Bluemix services, such as the new DB2 for i connector that’s pushing data into the Bluemix cloud for consumption by its Watson cognitive service.
“We’re going to continue to build on that cloud management console with new services that will be rolling out every couple of months,” Sibley said. “In the future, we’ll give visibility into the state of health of your entire environment as far as what needs patching for security or what needs patching for maintenance. It’s going to be a pretty exciting management and monitoring capability for clients to be able to see their entire infrastructure with a cloud platform, and that includes IBM i or AIX or Linux partitions.”