PORTLAND, Ore. -- IBM is hawking software-defined environments (SDEs) based on OpenStack to virtualize not just computer hardware (at the bottom) and end-user software (at the top), but every element of the data-center infrastructure in-between. By supporting OpenStack, IBM is aiming to reproduce, in the cloud orchestration space, its previous successful support of the Linux open-source operating system.
"Software defined environments use virtualization of compute, storage, and networking resources to allow the software developer to control what used to be controlled by hardware," said Matt Hogstrom, IBM chief technology officer for SDEs in an interview with EE Times. "What's unique about IBM's approach is that we are looking at the whole stack -- from the bare metal all the way up to the software developers' desktop -- allowing them to adjust the infrastructure to match the workload."
Like IBM's pioneering support for the open-source-operating Linux, the company is similarly backing the open-source SDE efforts of the OpenStack Foundation.
"OpenStack is a set of APIs that allow developers to create compute [nodes], to allocate storage, and to define networking," said Hogstrom. "It has become a de facto lingua franca of how to think about allocating infrastructure."
For the flexible management of workloads ranging from big-data analytics to mobile cloud services, OpenStack allows the solution definition to be cast into a software pattern that can be instantiated in infrastructure. The advantage, according to IBM, is that these patterns can be continuously optimized as well as tweaked and reused in other settings using templates (as shown in the chart below).
Software-defined environments (SDEs) allow a solution definition to be cast into a reusable software pattern that can be instantiated as an infrastructure pattern by virtue of application programmer interfaces (APIs).
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"In terms of defining these patterns, the way to be really successful is to make sure they are not tied to a specific implementation, but rather focused on an open-standards environment so that others can pick them up and deploy them anywhere."
OpenStack was founded by Rackspace Hosting and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to manage public, private and hybrid clouds. Over 150 organizations are OpenStack members including HP, Intel, Dell, NEC, Hitachi, Acer, and Broadcom. As a result service providers, value added resellers, and businesses can become architects of open-source cloud platforms that avoid the use of proprietary APIs such as those from Amazon. All of the code for OpenStack is freely available under the Apache 2.0 license.