Friday, January 22, 2010

The WebSphere CloudBurst Appliance

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.

9 comments: said...

Can Rational Build Forge or any other Rational products work to deploy models to Oracle BEA Weblogic?
I know BF to WAS ND cluster works, but we have a situation where the primary application server environment is BEA Weblogic.

Dustin Amrhein said...

Since Rational Build Forge is an open ended adaptive execution framework, you can develop projects in it that do just about anything you need, including configure non-IBM middleware environments.

However, it sounds like you are talking about the Rational Automation Framework for WebSphere which can be included as part of Rational Build Forge. The function afforded by that framework is focused on WebSphere middleware environments.

jj said...

I'm sorry, but I cannot get my head around the contradiction of a cloud based appliance.

I thought the cloud was all about abstracting away the physical infrastructure. So, I am unable to understand why a cloud enabling product is tied to a very specific highly proprietary piece of hardware (i.e. a cloudburst appliance) and cannot be deployed on the cloud itself or on something like vmware which provides highly standardised virtual hardware.

Let's face it, there is no secret hardware sauce in an appliance, it's usually just an x86 box running a very highly customised linux distro.

So, if your appliance breaks down - what do you do? - keep another spare? - not very cloud like if you ask me. Want to upgrade? that'll be a 4 week leadtime for the hardware. Want to play around with it? sorry, you'll have to find some rackspace for the appliance.

I hope you appreciate this concern.

Dustin Amrhein said...


I appreciate your concerns, but it sounds like you are talking about this in the context that the WebSphere CloudBurst Appliance makes up the cloud. That's not the case. Instead, WebSphere CloudBurst is a cloud management device. It dispenses your WebSphere middleware application environments into an on-premise cloud. This cloud could be made up of the VMware hypervisors you mention.

jj said...

Hi, thanks for your response.

Yes, I do understand that the appliance is only for managing the cloud, and the actual members of the cloud can be deployed freely on real tin or VMs/EC2/VMWare etc etc

But I simply can get my head around the proposition of a "cloud management appliance", software deployed on an appliance is the antithesis of software deployed to the cloud.

Just my 2p anyway

Thanks and regards

Dustin Amrhein said...

Hope this post helps better explain the decision to deliver WebSphere CloudBurst as an appliance.

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Leon said...

A quick update on ability to provision DB2 by the WebSphere CloudBurst Appliance. You are no longer restricted to just the trial of DB2 Enterprise Edition. You can deploy production ready DB2 via WCA.

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