Client Technical Sales Engineer
In my previous blog post, I discussed containers and Kubernetes. In short, containers (which were made popular with technologies like Docker, LXC, OpenVZ, Linux VServer, etc.) are virtual constructs that hold the OS, customizations, and applications as a single entity. This is a significant change in how virtualization is handled, especially when compared to traditional Virtual Machines (VMs). They are growing in importance both as a potential replacement for traditional Virtual Machines (such as those made popular by VMware, Microsoft Hyper-V, or Red Hat KVM) as well as an enabling technology and gateway to Cloud Computing.
Along with the container concept, the container orchestrator, Kubernetes enables the deployment, management, load balancing, and availability of containers. Google was one of the first to start working with containers and saw the value of a container orchestration platform. They developed Kubernetes as an open source project, and it can be downloaded from the https://kubernetes.io/ site. This tool works with containers such as those developed using Docker technologies or Docker Images downloaded from Dockerhub.
For some developers with sufficient resources, the open source version of Kubernetes is perfectly fine. For many, though, the investment in labor is too much to make it viable for their environment. For this reason, some vendors have created their own versions of container management, primarily using Kubernetes under the covers. This allows developers to take advantage of the technology without spending their time managing every aspect of it.
One major example of this is IBM Cloud Private (ICP). IBM Cloud Private was released at the end of 2017. While its name may lead users to think that it is related to cloud computing with the IBM Cloud (public cloud environment), it is related more to IBM’s multi-cloud strategy. It can be used in conjunction with IBM Cloud, but IBM recognizes that data centers are looking at multiple cloud vendors, as well as the ability to move between them, as part of a larger cloud strategy. So, if a user wants to use Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, or any other cloud computing vendor, that is perfectly supported. Moreover, there are many cases where customers may find that it is more cost-effective (despite perceptions to the contrary) to build private cloud workloads in their own on-premise data centers. They may also create hybrid cloud environments and optimize placement of container workloads in the cloud when that makes financial and technical sense, while also making use of their data center resources. Additionally, some versions of ICP include containerized versions of IBM Middleware products (such as Websphere Liberty or MQ) that are commonly used in cloud computing environments. This allows for easy management and deployment of these services.
Depending on the level of interest or commitment for IBM Cloud Private, there are three different versions offered for your private cloud computing environment (deep technical details on all of these editions can be found at the ICP Knowledge Center).
1) IBM Cloud Private Community Edition – Available at Dockerhub, the Community Edition is a free version of ICP. This is for users who want to start out their cloud environments by creating cloud-native applications, but not for non-production. It includes Kubernetes, as well as some of the common services, such as security and logging. It also has a catalog of open source software built for Kubernetes.
2) IBM Cloud Private Cloud Native – Cloud Native is used to develop cloud-native production applications. It includes everything from Community Edition (CE), but also has the option of using Cloud Foundry (a Platform as a Service technology, which had been something of an alternative to Kubernetes but has, itself, supported Kubernetes since October, 2017). It also includes support for several other IBM technologies and add-ons. These include IBM Microservices Builder, IBM Websphere Liberty, and IBM SDK for Node.js. Additionally, there’s the optional add-on of IBM Cloud Automation Manager (CAM).
3) IBM Cloud Private Enterprise – IBM Cloud Private Enterprise version is for developers who not only want to deploy cloud-native applications, but also bring their legacy applications and their data center into the cloud and container world. It includes everything from the Cloud Native version, but also has optional add-ons such as WebSphere App Server ND, MQ Advanced Edition, API Connect, Urban Code Deploy, and Db2 Direct Advanced (a data transformation platform by IBM Db2, which maintains its own high availability).
ICP allows developers to create and manage containers of all sorts, down to middleware, microservices, and even the modernizing of existing applications. But, what about working with Public Cloud environments?
This is where CAM comes into play. With CAM, users can automate deployment of containers both within the ICP environment and outside of it. So, if a customer has a multi-cloud environment and wants to deploy nodes outside of the ICP domain, CAM will allow it.
Obviously, this is an abridged view of what ICP is and what it can do for you and your application platform environment. The key to doing cloud the right way is to start by taking a serious look at a strategy. We would be happy to help with your strategy, so that cloud is not just a buzz word, but an actual cloud platform and data center strategy deployed in a way that saves money and increases efficiency.
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