IBM and Juniper have offered a sneak peek at technology that lets enterprise IT managers easily reallocate computing resources between a private and a public cloud.
Using cloud management software from IBM's Tivoli division and a Juniper network, the companies demonstrated a drag-and-drop interface for managing a hybrid cloud infrastructure.
It was the first time IBM had shown off technology for shifting work within a hybrid setup, which the company believes will be the dominant form of cloud architecture. IBM was set to announce the capability on Tuesday, along with several other new cloud-related offerings.
Cloud computing, along with virtualisation, can give IT departments more flexibility by letting them separate applications or data from particular sites and equipment. Enterprises are beginning to explore public cloud services, in particular, partly as a way to avoid some investments in fixed assets, according to Nemertes Research analyst Andreas Antonopoulos.
At its Silicon Valley Research Center in San Jose, California, on Monday an IBM executive demonstrated how the IBM Cloud Management Console, which already could be used to control a private cloud, can now control a remote cloud as well.
The console displayed virtual machines as small boxes colour-coded to show whether they were being used and what for. Identifying one application as less critical than another, he dragged several boxes from the private cloud to a public one. Then, with computing resources freed up on the private cloud, he allocated the empty boxes to the more critical function in order to meet the IT department's service-level agreement for it.
IBM will be announcing that capability and others to selected customers alongside partner Juniper Networks on Tuesday. The company has tapped in to Juniper APIs for networks that better serve the needs of hybrid cloud computing, executives of the companies said.
Among other things, Juniper technology will help to allow easier remote management of clouds over long-distance MPLS networks. Enterprises won't need a single-vendor Juniper network to take advantage of the partners' technology, however, because Juniper uses standards such as MPLS, they said.
The demonstration took place in the data centre of the Silicon Valley facility, which also serves as one of nine Cloud Labs around the world where IBM can construct proof-of-concept systems for customers interested in cloud computing. Those customers could be either enterprises exploring private or hybrid clouds, or service providers that want to build their own public clouds as a business, said Jay Subrahmonia, director of IBM Cloud Labs.
Monday's demonstration did not include moving data between public and private clouds, but that could be a future direction, Subrahmonia said.
Like IBM, Antonopoulos of Nemertes Research believes almost all enterprises that use cloud computing will take a hybrid approach. IT infrastructure is like an investment portfolio, which shouldn't be dominated by one type of asset and has to be tailored to each organisation's needs, he said. In addition, enterprises need to consider not just the ongoing cost of going to a third-party cloud service, such as subscriptions and bandwidth, but the cost of migrating to the service and later moving on to another approach, he said.
"Anything you do in IT is temporary," Antonopoulos said.