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Dustin Amrhein

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Blog Post

Customizing Your Private Cloud

Using the WebSphere CloudBurst Appliance for custom clouds

When looking at creating a cloud of application environments, private clouds are attractive to many users because of the control, insight, and security they offer. However, besides these things, there is another key benefit afforded by private cloud application environments: customizability. Customizations in application environments are important to many enterprises since in many cases those customizations represent a competitive differentiation.

For this reason, the new WebSphere CloudBurst Appliance places a high importance on allowing users to fully customize the WebSphere middleware environments that it dispenses into the private cloud. To produce customized WebSphere middleware environments, users create custom virtual images and custom WebSphere patterns (representations of WebSphere middleware environments).

The virtual image used in the WebSphere CloudBurst Appliance is the WebSphere Application Server Hypervisor Edition. This is a virtual image packaging that includes an operating system, WebSphere Application Server, and IBM HTTP Server all pre-installed and pre-configured.

Since customizations may be needed at the operating system level, users can extend the WebSphere Application Server Hypervisor Edition virtual images shipped with the appliance. Extending the image means that a virtual machine instance is created, and that users can log into that virtual machine and make the desired changes. This typically includes installing custom software like JDBC drivers, anti-virus applications, monitoring agents, and more.

These changes can then be captured and used to ensure a common foundation for all the WebSphere virtual systems in a private cloud.

Moving up a level in the application environment, WebSphere CloudBurst also provides customization capabilities for the WebSphere middleware tier in a pattern. To start, users can adjust the pattern’s WebSphere topology to fit their needs. This includes adding and removing components like WebSphere application server nodes, management nodes, and web server nodes. Users can also configure the middleware tier by enabling session persistence, security, and more.

Of course, customizations needed in an application environment necessarily include the ability to add custom applications. Using the facilities provided by the appliance, users can include their custom applications directly in the WebSphere pattern. This means that when a WebSphere virtual system is created from the pattern, the end result will be a running WebSphere environment complete with applications installed.

The customization capabilities discussed above also nicely align with divisions of responsibilities typically seen within enterprises. Teams responsible for operating system infrastructure can update virtual images, middleware teams can make changes to the middleware topology and configuration in a pattern, and application teams can add applications to patterns.

Perhaps the best part about these customizations, whether it is a change to a virtual image or pattern, is that once they are made they can be stored on the appliance to allow for reuse and sharing as appropriate. To see some of these customization capabilities in action, watch the WebSphere CloudBurst demos at youtube.com/websphereclouds.

More Stories By Dustin Amrhein

Dustin Amrhein joined IBM as a member of the development team for WebSphere Application Server. While in that position, he worked on the development of Web services infrastructure and Web services programming models. In his current role, Dustin is a technical specialist for cloud, mobile, and data grid technology in IBM's WebSphere portfolio. He blogs at http://dustinamrhein.ulitzer.com. You can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/damrhein.