IBM CloudBurst tackles cloud configuration issues

As people actually deploy apps and services using cloud architectures, they find configuration issues can be troubling. At its IBM Impact SOA event in Las Vegas, Big Blue unveiled CloudBurst, which seeks to ease configuration of cloud-based services.

IBM's yearly SOA conference kicked-off today with some looks at innovative uses of service-oriented architecture to address business and social issues. Company leaders soundly rejected the oft-heard contention that "SOA is dead." The company also gave a view of a hardware appliance meant to ease deployment of on-premises 'private clouds.'

During the Impact Smart SOA Conference 2009 in Las Vegas, IBM will spotlight numerous customer successes with SOA. Many of these stories encompass so-called 'green' initiatives in which IT is used to create innovative applications while efficiently using resources.

"Everyone is on a path to shared services, which is the essence of what service-oriented architecture is about. There is no alternative," said Steve Mills, who directs IBM's software businesses. He characterized the "SOA is dead" discussion as "a useless debate."

Mills and company took the occasion of the Impact conference to roll out new products intended to extend their business process management, event processing, and other middleware lines, as well as their mainframe and cloud computing product suites.

For the cloud, IBM unveiled its new WebSphere CloudBurst Appliance. As people actually deploy apps and services using cloud architecture, they are experiencing issues that some might not have anticipated – some of these issues revolve around configurations settings. With multiple tiers, and multiple clusters, these can get pretty complex.

The CloudBurst release at least in part addresses how you deploy and manage applications and services on cloud infrastructure. As an appliance, CloudBurst comes with out-of-the-box virtual images and patterns. These represent known best ways to deploy services. Related tools include the IBM Rational Automation Framework for WebSphere, which optimizes configuration and application deployment, and the BuildForge build tool.

"Software containers are important in the cloud," said Judith Hurwitz, head of Hurwitz Associates. "[CloudBurst] is about putting the right pieces into the right containers."

"As we move out of the world of traditional packaged applications into a much more service-oriented one, where components are linked together to create value, creating the build becomes even more important," she continued.

"If you look at what it takes to set up an environment around an application, it can become pretty complicated," said Kareem Yusef, director, product management for WebSphere Software. In moving to cloud schemes, this build process becomes another challenging task for developers and admins.

"I see our customers being able to use the CloudBurst appliance to provide a platform-as-a-service to developers. It provides a menu of choices to provide the kind of environment they want," said Yusef.

"This is about removing that time required to deliver applications," said Yusef. "It is also about capturing best practices." In effect, the new software can take known successful deployments and replicate them.

This IBM Impact Smart SOA Conference 2009 in Las Vegas also came with some humorous looks at technology in a keynote presentation courtesy of actor and comedian Billy Crystal.

While IBM did its best to make SOA and BPM terrifically exciting, Crystal kidded and cajoled. "I feel the same excitement as the Oscars," said Crystal drolly to an appreciative audience.

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