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Defining and Managing Hybrid IT

Hybrid IT is a blend of cloud-based and on-premises IT services. In his latest blog, Joseph Gulla explains how to manage it.

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This week, I’ll finish my focus on IT management in the area of hybrid IT. A good place to begin is to answer the question—what is hybrid IT? Then the question becomes how do I manage it (and with what tools)?

What Is Hybrid IT?  

In simple terms, hybrid IT is a blend of cloud-based and on-premises IT services. In the past, IT departments preferred to support as few architectures as possible to simplify management but today that desire has been overridden by business wants and needs to use services that are provided by public clouds.
Hybrid isn’t just the challenge of managing what you have in house plus an application running from a public cloud. Hybrid infrastructure often includes both public and private clouds. In fact, most of the material on the web about hybrid systems is mainly about an amalgam of different cloud systems. Cloud is so top of mind that it can feel like most applications these days are supported by the cloud. However, if you made a bank financial transaction or checked in for a flight you used an IT service based on pre-cloud computing—likely one that included a mainframe. Mainframes are the consummate in-house system. You might not be up to date on mainframes but in Q4 2019, IBM set a new mainframe MIPs record with the IBM z15™. IBM CFO James Kavanaugh indicated “We shipped the highest MIPs in history this quarter, driven by growth in new workloads. And we’ve already seen broad adoption of the new mainframe across a number of industries and countries.”

Hybrid IT Management

Mixing in-house IT infrastructure, web application infrastructure (web servers, firewalls and load balancers), mainframes, and private and public clouds can create an environment that is full of challenging differences. All of these environments contain security mechanisms and tools but to the degree that there are different tools and different suppliers, what you have is a potential management challenge. In addition to what is different, there can be a lack of flexibility. In a public cloud, decisions have been made by cloud designers about what is in and out of the service. If you are looking for support for some software or service that is deliberately out of the design, then you have a challenge on your hands.

Hybrid IT Management Solutions

Let’s review five management solutions from IBM that have a focus on hybrid infrastructure. These products will give a good idea about how the challenges of hybrid computing are being addressed:
  1. Application Performance Management Tools
IBM Cloud® Application Performance Management is used to proactively monitor and manage application infrastructure performance. This makes it possible to quickly respond and ensure the best experience for computer users. The scope of the support for application infrastructure components is significant with over 60 agents. Examples include Amazon EC2, Amazon ELB, Azure Compute, Cassandra, Cisco UCS, Citrix VDI, DataPower®, DataStage®, Db2®, Hadoop, HMC Base,  Tomcat, UNIX OS, VMware VI, WebLogic, WebSphere® Applications, WebSphere® MQ, and Windows OS to name a few. This is the size of the agent population that you need to start to address the inherent complexity of these hybrid environments.
  1. Multicloud Management
IBM Cloud Pak® for Multicloud Management is used to automate deployment, management and governance from a single control point. The product is agnostic regarding where the workload runs. This product enables organizations to securely manage applications, no matter how they are designed or where they are deployed. IBM Cloud Pak employs a set of open, pluggable tools built around a core application and control model. This core architecture helps organizations model applications and application dependencies and manage both applications and infrastructure lifecycles.  
  1. Watson AIOps
IBM Watson® AIOps provides AI and automation that makes it possible for organizations to deliver greater reliability with lower risk. The product monitors incoming data feeds including logs, metrics, alerts, topologies and tickets, The product highlights potential problems across incoming data based on trained machine learning models. Consider these three key characteristics:
  • Watson AIOps includes an insight layer that connects the dots between structured and unstructured data using leading AI and natural language processing technologies from IBM Research.  
  • Watson AIOps communicates via team ChatOps to feed insights into the team’s collaboration tools. This helps the team seamlessly access data to best address the incident.
  • Watson AIOps supplies out-of-the-box productivity to enable automation and utilize pre-trained models saving time in problem resolution. 
  1. IBM Websphere Application Server
IBM Websphere Application Server provides a flexible, security-rich Java® server runtime environment for enterprise applications. As an application server environment, it is a vehicle to straightforwardly move organizations existing applications to the cloud. If you have not examined IBM Websphere Server in a few years, you will be surprised to see how it has been transformed and expanded.
WebSphere Application Server has two main branches: WebSphere Liberty and traditional WebSphere (often called tWAS). Both branches have a lot of leaves that WebSphere Liberty is a highly composable, dynamic application server runtime environment. Composability is useful because it means that components that can be selected and assembled in various combinations to satisfy specific user requirements. Liberty has fast startup processing and a minimal footprint, which makes it a good match for cloud-native microservices application development.
The traditional WebSphere edition continues the evolution from the original release in June 1998. tWAS runs on many computing platforms and has extensive tooling to support development, deployment and support of e-business applications. Both editions are available for download with different trial options.
  1. IBM Cloud Pak System
IBM Cloud Pak System helps simplify private cloud deployment to accelerate an organization’s implementation of this technology. This product is a turnkey private cloud solution that makes it easy for organizations to deploy and maintain an enterprise-grade private cloud for virtual machine and container-based applications. The IBM Cloud Pak System is an assembled, factory-integrated system that comes with VMware and Red Hat® OpenShift® environments ready to rapidly deploy applications and middleware.

Next Week

Next week, I’ll begin the first of a two-part series reviewing some of the impactful IT Trendz series of posts from 2020.

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