So what makes SmartCloud for Business different from anything else IBM has offered previously? It's all about a self-service menu of choices.
SAN FRANCISCO - As strange
as it seems, IBM had not made available a public-cloud service offering for
production purposes until it launched its SmartCloud for Business on April 7 at
a cloud forum here at the Westin St. Francis.
That's right. You couldn't
swipe a credit card and obtain an IBM cloud service for any sort of production
purpose until now.
Let's look at the history of
this for a minute. Even though IBM has had its own internal cloud-service
network for several years and has provided hardware, software and services for
others to build any type of cloud system, it
didn't actually institute a cloud-computing division until February 2009
years after the term "cloud" became the biggest IT buzzword since
Prior to February 2009, potential
IBM customers looking to build or refurbish a data center with cloudware had to
start with IBM Global Services and work their way through that formidable
bureaucracy to get something going.
From 2009 to the present
day, IBM's cloudmeisters have been focused on building customized private and
hybrid-type cloud systems, primarily for large enterprises.
Pre-configured, Menu-Driven Stack
Now it's April 2011, and Big
Blue's product offerings have expanded with SmartCloud, an enterprise-class,
secure cloud offering with a pre-configured, menu-driven stack. See
eWEEK Senior Editor Darryl Taft's story for details on the offering
So what makes SmartCloud for
Business different from anything else IBM has offered previously, and what does
this mean for customers? It is true that all the ingredients to do this have
been in Big Blue warehouses, in Global Services brochures, in the IBM Blue
Cloud or available through partnerships for a long time.
"We've had this as
'custom' for years and years," Steve Mills, IBM's Senior Vice President in
charge of software and systems, said in an answer to a question from eWEEK.
"We have not had this kind of menu-driven production environment until
"This now really gives
them [users] self-service, which is incremental and different from what they
have had from us before."
There is a caveat: IBM had
been providing some customers with self-service cloud capabilities for various
types of development configurations, Mills said. "But we weren't ready
[until now] to give them self-service for standing up the production
applications. They now have that," he said.
Five Main Areas of Choice
SmartCloud menu includes five main areas of choice: IT platforms, management
support/deployment, security, availability/performance and payment/billing. You
can select whatever software/services you want, as long as it's an IBM product
that runs on WebSphere, because that's the foundation for the whole thing.
This isn't a best-of-breed
deal; this is an IBM-only cloud system. Once the menu items are on the plate,
they stay in the configuration until further notice.
"What this means to a
service provider is that you can actually commit to an outcome," IBM's
Senior Vice President for Global Technology Services Erich Clementi told eWEEK.
"Why? Because I have pre-engineered it. If you do it custom, you have to reinvent
the wheel every time."
Examples of services that
can be used in a SmartCloud deployment include IBM's Cast Iron, which
integrates cloud services with individual enterprise business processes to
create hybrid clouds; Tivoli Live, which offers high-level service management;
and LotusLive, a collaboration suite that includes Web conferencing, instant
messaging, social networking and project tracking.
There is a lengthy list of
other "menu" options.
IBM did not indicate any
limitations on the size and scope of new SmartCloud implementations. Because
the early-adopter beta users were large companies, such as Kaiser Permanente (health
care) and ING (insurance and financial services), the odds are that this will
find faster adoption in the Fortune 2000 than in the midrange market-at least
at the outset.
IBM didn't offer any pricing
information at this time.