IBM Cloud Pak - A BPM User's Guide

What is a Cloud Pak and how do I use it?

BPM (now BAW) developers are already familiar with the challenges of IBM licensing. Some of that work just got easier with the new Cloud Pak offerings. There are six of these currently available, and of special interest to you will be the Cloud Pak for Automation. Read on to learn what this new offering is, and how it can transform your ability to implement your Digital Business Automation strategy.

What is a Cloud Pak?

Cloud Pak is IBM's name for its containerized bundles of interoperable tools hosted on a multi-cloud platform. It is built on Cloud-Native Architecture, using Kubernetes and Redhat Openshift for managing these containers. But what does that actually mean in non-technical terms?

  • Cloud computing is a managed hosting solution, meaning that instead of hosting the software in your own data center, you access it through the Internet. This doesn't just offload the floorspace and utility costs, it also offloads the grunt work administrative tasks to the cloud platform team.
  • Containerization is a way to eliminate the interoperability problems often associated with complex software, but giving each software tool it's own ecosystem to cordon it off from that kind of issue. Containers can be duplicated easily, and have their underlying resources scaled up based on demand.
  • Kubernetes is an open-source container management tool built by Google that allows the management, deployment, and scaling of software containers.
  • Cloud Pak is how IBM containerized its own software offerings to optimize their functionality within the IBM cloud environment.

Do I have to be on the cloud to use an IBM Cloud Pak?

No!  That's one of the very cool things about it.  By using a Cloud Pak your containers can run anywhere that supports a Kubernetes managed container ecosystem.  This could be in your own data center, on the IBM cloud, or even on other cloud platforms like Amazon's AWS. Think of it as a gateway tool for entering the world of containerized cloud computing.

How do I use a Cloud Pak?

Cloud Paks are containers that are preconfigured to run their payload of IBM product binaries. They can run where you would normally run containerized software, but IBM suggests your optimal user experience comes from running them on Operating Systems engineered specifically to run containers and Kubernetes. In particular, Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform (OCP), (which runs Kubernetes under the hood) is perfectly suited to this task.  IBM offers this configuration on its own cloud platform, but you can also launch OCP instances on Amazon's AWS. For example, there is an AWS offering for the IBM Cloud Pak for Data.

Your IBM Cloud Paks will run anywhere that Kubernetes can run.  By utilizing the OCP framework, you gain streamlined tools for managing your containers and the underlying Kubernetes software. The OCP tools are designed to ease the processes of managing your containerized ecosystem, and this has several advantages.  First, your developers can work in this environment using the repository tools the know. A clustered containerized infrastructure means that you can create, manage, deploy and scale your IBM Cloud Pak solutions across your enterprise quickly and easily.

What Cloud Paks are useful for my BAW ecosystem?

The BAW (formerly BPM) product is part of what IBM is calling Cloud Pak for Automation. This is a collection of highly interoperable offerings that facilitate IBM's Digital Business Automation (DBA) initiative.  These are collected under the Cloud Pak entitlement on-premises license. There are several products in this collection, but of special interest to DBA / BAW customers are:

  • IBM Automation Digital Worker - engage RPA tools to automate repetitive tasks
  • IBM Business Automation Application Designer - a Low Code tool to produce apps for the IBM Business Automation Application Engine
  • IBM Operational Decision Manager (ODM) -

Your BAW software is part of this licensing bundle and is planned to be fully containerized by mid-2020.  You don't have to wait for that to complete to take advantage of a Cloud Pak offering and it's pricing and interoperability benefits. BAW gives you the workflow and BPMN power of classic IBM BPM and merges it with the case-oriented capabilities formerly found in the IBM Case Management product.  Add to that the Content Management and Artificial Intelligence power of IBM's tools and you have a toolbox capable of powerful enterprise-grade solutions that are scalable and portable.

The Cloud Pak Advantage?

If you buy a Cloud Pak license you can transfer it to other products for other containerized solutions. You can run your Cloud Pak products anywhere that supports Red Hat OpenShift. Your Cloud Pak license entitles you to use your credits to swap around products within your bundle. Need more Application Designer licenses? Need more Digital Workers? You can do it! Cloud Pak may be the most flexible, scalable, portable, intelligent bundle of products ever offered by IBM. Take advantage of them now. Contact us to learn how you can fit Cloud Pak into your automation strategy.

Blake Smith

Blake Smith