The Big Players React
Just as HP supplied core technology for RACE, IBM sees such corporate intraclouds as fertile territory on which to market its ability to provision and run data centers. "IBM is on a parallel strategy to Amazon and Google," said Irving Wladawsky-Berger, chairman emeritus of the IBM Academy of Technology. "IBM is in the business of helping our customers so they can offer cloud services to their customers."Providing IT services as a utility enables small companies to operate without the burden of upfront costs. "In an emerging economy, there are fixed costs to start up a business," said Dennis Quan, IBM's CTO for high-performance on-demand solutions. Flying under the Blue Cloud banner, IBM has also built data centers to offer cloud-computing services in Beijing; Dublin, Ireland; and Johannesburg, South Africa. Dell, similarly, takes a data-center-centric view of clouds that serve a company's internal needs. "We're really seeing that," said Todd Brannon, market development manager for Dell. "That's an evolution of HPCC [high-performance cluster computing]. Maybe during the day, you're doing thin client; at night you're doing number crunching." Brannon said Dell is providing cloud infrastructure to two large social media sites, although he declined to name them. Seeking to score a marketing coup, Dell also filed a trademark application for the term "cloud computing," a request that was denied in a nonfinal judgment in August. Meanwhile, all eyes will be on Microsoft at its Professional Developers Conference in October, when the company is expected to make a major cloud announcement. Microsoft already offers SharePoint and Exchange hosted services. A company spokesperson declined to comment or to make Microsoft executives available for this article.
One variation on this theme is a cloud-computing center that began operation in May at a software park in Wuxi, China, 2 hours west of Shanghai. IBM provided technology, including System x and System p servers on a secure VLAN (virtual LAN) for the center, which is run by the Chinese government and will serve as a cloud-computing resource for software companies operating in the park.