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IBM Shows Off SOA Cloud Appliance

Cloud computing and virtualization can save money, but the environments aren't easy to manage. The security challenges of dynamic datacenters drove Trend Micro's acquisition of Third Brigade yesterday.

Today, IBM is answering the provisioning challenges of rapidly changing datacenters with its IBM WebSphere CloudBurst Appliance

Priced at $45,000, the appliance will deliver pre-fabricated software images to servers in private clouds, easing patching, updating, and provisioning. It will be unveiled at IBM's IMPACT conference next week in Las Vegas.

"You could do this by hand, but it takes time," said Tom Rosamilia, general manager of the applications and integration middleware division at IBM's (NYSE: IBM) software group.

"The appliance helps companies move from version to version of the software. You can download the latest fixes and freeze a new image and any subsequent image will get the new stuff," he said.

In addition, he added, the appliance better enables datacenter managers to adjust to changing demand because automated provisioning is faster than manual provisioning. "If today you all of a sudden see a peak in demand and you try to deploy a server manually, the peak will be gone by the time you deploy it. As a result, people often have to do peak provisioning. They either risk a slowdown or denial or provision for peak demand and have unused servers."

It is the latest in IBM's service-oriented architecture (SOA) lineup, WebSphere DataPower SOA Appliances.

It works especially well with IBM's WebSphere Enterprise Service Bus, which delivers standards-based integration and service oriented interfaces to WebSphere applications.

The software image used by CloudBurst is called IBM WebSphere Application Server Hypervisor Edition. It comes with Novell's SUSE Linux but customers can replace that with Red Hat. It uses Tivoli License Manager to ensure that a company does not exceed the number of software images that its licenses allow.

IBM is further supporting CloudBurst by delivering an on-premise test environment for the appliance through its IBM Implementation Services for Cloud Computing initiative.

Software on the public cloud

In addition to the appliance that manages private clouds, IBM is announcing BPM BlueWorks, a set of tools available in the cloud for Business Process Management (BPM).

Cloud tools make sharing easier. "Some people use [Microsoft] PowerPoint or Visio to model business processes," said Rosamilia. "With cloud tools I don't have to buy a license, download software, and train people. I can work in the cloud and share what I've done with a colleague. In fact, I can collaborate with others in the public cloud whether we're working for the same company or not."

Often, cloud versions of software destroy the market for licensed versions of the same software, but that won't happen with BlueWorks. Although the cloud software allows users to model processes for free, they will have to buy a license to implement those processes in software. Furthermore, the licensed version of the software has more features and functions than the cloud version.

The cloud is a great delivery tool for software vendors and also empowers customers by allowing them to test drive software. "It's an easy on-ramp for BPM," Rosamilia said.

IBM is committed to cloud computing, he concluded. "These are great examples of how we provide value to clients through private and public clouds. We are committed to both models. It may surprise some people to see us in the public cloud."