IBM and Cisco have a successful partnership with their joint converged infrastructure solution – VersaStack. Building upon this success, the pair have announced enhanced capabilities for VersaStack, including integration with the hybrid cloud.

Recall that a converged infrastructure (CI) combines servers, storage, and networking, as well as integrated management into a pre-configured bundle. CIs have become increasingly popular because they accelerate application deployment, reduce risk, decrease costs and speed up time to value of new IT investments.  These benefits arise for a number of reasons, including simplification through replacing manual processes with automation and orchestration capabilities.

The simplest VersaStack offering is a single rack solution which uses Cisco UCS servers, Cisco MDS or Nexus networking switches and IBM storage, particularly the all-flash FlashSystem V9000, the Storwize V7000F and V5030F, and the IBM All-Flash SAN Volume Controller. IBM recommends all-flash storage for both performance (10X flash performance acceleration) and capacity (up to 5X more storage with IBM Real-time Compression) reasons.

The original VersaStack deployments have been in traditional datacenters on premises or as a private cloud, either on premises or through dedicated resources at a co-location facility run by service providers. The new VersaStack offerings enable customers to use public cloud as part of the overall solution, which thus creates a hybrid cloud solution. Note that the VersaStack infrastructure remains where it was, but now can work with a public cloud for processes such as application deployment or data migration.

Why would one want to include the public cloud in the solution? The increased flexibility to deploy and manage applications and data anywhere in the hybrid cloud enables IT to best take advantage of dynamically changing conditions. That freedom of choice results in both better cost and resource management.

Hybrid cloud can support a number of use cases. The first is hybrid IT as a service, which delivers user self-service on-demand access to applications and data while at the same time preserving central visibility and control for what is happening. A second is in helping accelerate DevOps processes. A third use case is capacity augmentation whereby IT resources can be better utilized in either a datacenter or public cloud. A fourth is the ability to better migrate and manage workloads by being redeploying them to any cloud while maintaining a consistent management environment.

Both Cisco and IBM contribute major components that enable VersaStack to play nicely with the hybrid cloud. Cisco’s software contribution is the CloudCenter.  Cisco CloudCenter supports IT as a service  (ITaaS), a service delivery approach with automation at its center. Services can be consumed and managed from a self-service portal infrastructure. The Cloud Management package within the suite supplies the tools to deploy, provision, and manage applications in 20 hybrid cloud environments, including IBM’s Bluemix (formerly Softlayer). That deals with the application side of the house.

At the same time, IBM delivers its Spectrum Copy Data Management (CDM for short) to deal with the data side of the house.  CDM is about much, much more than just making copies of data. CDM provides ongoing visibility into where data lives,  how that data is used, and who has access to it.  CDM does this through data lifecycle management automation that delivers self-service data access along with necessary orchestration and visibility features.  IBM’s software-only platform provides data discovery and search capabilities through the use of a catalog, policy-based SLA compliance automation, and cloud-integrated and DevOps-enabled transformation capabilities. Among the use cases for CDM are improved data protection and disaster recovery and automated copy management by SLA.

These software products from Cisco and IBM are the additional software components that go along with the existing VersaStack software and hardware components to enable the platform to work in a hybrid cloud world.

The latest VersaStack announcement further reflects the partnership commitment between Cisco and IBM. Both companies recognize the value of strong partnerships, where complementary skills are necessary for success.

Mesabi musings

Converged infrastructure solutions have become quite popular and VersaStack is a leader in the CI space.  But both IBM and Cisco realized that users wanted (and needed) their traditional datacenter and private cloud information infrastructures to play nicely with public clouds and support hybrid cloud environments. Users want the freedom to choose such things as being able to manage their DevOps processes more efficiently and to more effectively manage data migration processes

Cisco and IBM each made major software contributions to VersaStack to make this happen. Cisco contributed its CloudCenter and IBM contributed its Spectrum Copy Data Management.  Existing VersaStack users should feel greatly empowered with these new capabilities and the Cisco/IBM partnership has an extra strong new message to deliver to prospective buyers of converged infrastructure solutions.