Sunday, 15 April 2012

Storage and expertise – the PureSystems box

On Wednesday 11 April, IBM introduced to the world the PureSystems family of data centre infrastructure products. The idea behind them is that they will simplify the management, automation, and running of enterprise applications on a range of virtualization technologies.

This new line of integrated systems has the ability to automatically handle everyday tasks such as configuration and updates, which reduced the amount of time needed to get applications up and running and also reduces the management overhead. Therefore, IT staff are freed up to get on with other work. Users gain the expertise of 125 independent software vendors (such as VMware, SugarCRM, Infor, and Juniper Networks) who developed what IBM calls “patterns of expertise” that automate many common IT and industry tasks such as deployment, configuration, and upgrading of applications onto the appliances. “For example, a customer relationship management program that used to take three days to deploy can now be deployed in under one hour”, claims IBM. In addition, companies can scale their operations very quickly, allowing them to go from a small number of computer systems in one site to service on the cloud, with systems that can be accessed around the world.

IBM proudly described its PureSystems family as one of the most significant announcements of the last 20 years, and said it is the result of $2bn research and development spend over many years.

The announcement might be viewed as a way for IBM to match competitors Oracle, HP, and Cisco Systems, who have all been promoting converged infrastructure – integrating server, storage, networking, and other technologies into a single managed architecture. As a sweetener, IBM says it will buy back servers, ie those sourced from HP and Oracle, from clients who migrate to PureSystems.

As mentioned above, each PureSystems package combines servers, storage, networking and virtualization technologies into a single appliance, with additional services from IBM. The PureSystems initially come in two versions – PureFlex System (which is a basic infrastructure platform for self-service private clouds), and PureApplication System (which includes IBM’s WebSphere middleware and DB2 database and can be used for Web and database applications). The systems support the Hyper-V, KVM, Power-V, and ESX hypervisors from Microsoft, Red Hat, IBM and VMware, respectively, and are based on either Intel or IBM Power processors. Storage is provided by IBM’s Storwize V7000 appliances, and networking can be a choice of either Brocade, Cisco, or Juniper kit.

IBM has included a cloud self-service and provisioning interface in the PureSystems, based on the same technology used in IBM’s public SmartCloud services, giving customers a ready-to-go cloud computing system in a box, they said.

Customers are able to define the PureFlex configuration, while the PureApplication System is available in four configurations ranging from 96 CPU cores and 1.5TB of memory, up to 608 cores and 9.7TB of memory.

IT departments will be pleased to know that IBM is offering a single support hotline for the entire system, whether an issue is with the hardware or software, while there is also just a single procurement process for the entire system.

“You can order just one box with one pin number, and it has on it all you need to get an out-of-box experience straight away with the software, the middleware, the hardware, storage, the network fabric”, claimed Graham Spittle, chief technology officer for IBM in Europe.

There is also just a single management console, according to IBM, although they can also integrate with IBM’s Tivoli platform for customers who’ve standardized on that for management.

Pricing for the PureSystem family starts at about $100,000.

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