IBM has refreshed its CloudBurst products for building a virtualised private cloud, adding configurations based on its Power7 processor on top of the x86-based systems it already offered. CloudBurst integrates IBM servers with a variety of software components, including storage, network and orchestration software, to make it easier for companies to deploy and manage a virtualised infrastructure in their data centers.

The system also includes a self service portal where end-users reserve their own computing resources, and software for automatically provisioning and managing those resources.

Other big vendors including Hewlett-Packard, Oracle and Dell are pitching similar products for building private clouds. The goal is to provide a package of preintegrated hardware and software to speed installation and simplify management. "The key thing is that it allows a customer to bring in a self-contained package so they don't have to do all the work," said Lauren States, vice president of cloud computing at IBM's Software Group.

The first iteration released was CloudBurst version 1.2, based on IBM's x86-based System x servers. One of the new versions released Wednesday, CloudBurst 2.1, is based on more powerful HS22V blade servers with 72GB of main memory, or 50 percent more than those in the prior version.

The system is offered in three configurations, each in a 42U rack. The smallest has a single Blade Center chassis and four blade servers and can run up to 100 virtual machines. The top end system packs up to 28 blade servers into two BladeCenter chassis and runs up to 960 VMs, IBM says.

Also announced Wednesday are the first three CloudBurst configurations based on IBM's Power7 processor. A rack with a single Power 750 server and 32 processor cores can run up to 160 virtual machines, while the top end system, with 11 Power 750 servers in five racks, can run up to 2,960 virtual machines, IBM says.

The software integrated with the systems enables applications or services to be provisioned by pressing a few buttons, according to States. Applications no longer in use are put in "deep freeze" to save underlying server and storage resources, she said.

IBM says it did as much integration work as it could at the factory, to save companies the time and cost of assembling the pieces on site. However, it also sells a software package on a standalone basis, called Service Delivery Manager, which achieves similar goals and that customers can install on their own Power and x86-based systems and also on servers from other vendors.

CloudBurst v2.1 on Power is certified to run SAP applications. That indicates the server is optimised for higher-level enterprise workloads, said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT.

"It's made for scalability, you're looking at something that's enterprise-focused, but creates cloud-like environments where SAP can be served and managed," he said.

CloudBurst competes with similarly integrated offerings from other big vendors, including HP's Blade System Matrix, Cisco's UCS and Oracle's Exalogic Elastic Cloud. Dell is also trying to break into the market with its Virtual Integrated System.

The CloudBurst systems based on System x are available immediately, while the Power-based CloudBurst will be available in mid-December, IBM said. It did not provide pricing for any of the systems.