Up to this point, we haven't discussed the WebSphere CloudBurst Appliance too much on this blog (though I've been writing about it extensively here). So if you have been following and reading along here and have only casually heard of this new appliance, you may be asking yourself "What is it?" and "What does it do?" Given that, I thought it was about time we provided a brief overview of WebSphere CloudBurst on the WebSphere Community Blog.
Very simply put, WebSphere CloudBurst is a cloud management device provided in an appliance form factor. It provides you with the capabilities to create, deploy, and manage virtualized WebSphere application environments in an on-premise cloud. Laying the foundation for the cloud-based application environment lifecycle capability provided by WebSphere CloudBurst are special virtual images. These virtual images, which are provided and maintained by IBM, provide pre-installed, pre-configured software stacks that include everything from the operating system all the way through the IBM Software middleware tier. As of right now there are three different IBM Software offerings packaged in this virtual image format: WebSphere Application Server (generally available in 6.1 and 7.0 versions), WebSphere Portal 6.1.5 (Beta version), and DB2 Enterprise 9.7 (trial).
Why did I refer to the virtual images as building blocks? Because from these virtual images WebSphere CloudBurst patterns are built. A pattern is a complete representation of your middleware application environment. The appliance comes pre-loaded with a set of best-practice patterns, and you can also build your own. A custom pattern will include the topology (i.e. the number of application server nodes, management nodes, databases, etc.) you desire, as well as your custom configuration like your applications that run in the environment. As an example, here’s a screenshot of a WebSphere Application Server pattern I built using WebSphere CloudBurst:
Once you build your custom application environment in the form of a WebSphere CloudBurst pattern, you can use the appliance to dispense it to your on-premise cloud. This cloud, consisting of a pool of hypervisors (both VMware and PowerVM platforms are supported) and associated compute resources like memory, storage, CPU, and IP addresses, is defined to and managed by the appliance. When deploying your patterns into the cloud, WebSphere CloudBurst uses an intelligent placement algorithm that considers things like available compute resource and high availability to ensure that your application environment runs as safely and efficiently as possible.
The end result of deployment is a fully functional WebSphere middleware environment running in one or more virtual machines. These environments offer the same capabilities and function as if you had deployed them in a more traditional manner, so you can run the same applications you use now unchanged. In addition, you can use WebSphere CloudBurst to apply fixes and upgrades to your application environments in a simple, fast and safe manner, and you can easily remove an environment when you are no longer using it thus returning resources to your cloud.
In my opinion, this is one of those things that is easier to understand when seen. In that regard, I’ve put together quite a few short demonstrations that highlight different features and capabilities of the appliance. If you are interested in reading more, I mentioned a blog earlier, and we have quite a few articles available on developerWorks.