Cloud Computing: Core IBM Growth Area

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2011-07-06 Print this article Print


Meanwhile, focusing on where cloud computing appears to have made the most impact early on, Harvey Koeppel, executive director of the Center for CIO Leadership, said smaller and midsize companies appear to be buying into the cloud more readily than larger companies. "They've made the mental leap, and they understand the potential value of cloud computing," he said. "Look at it in a similar way to how the Internet broke into the enterprise. The cloud is tracking the same way as the Internet did. It started behind the firewall. Public versus private is the wrong conversation to have. It's a surrogate for public Internet versus private intranet. The best cases are hybrids."

Cloud computing has become a key part of IBM's overall strategy and one of the core growth areas in its 2015 road map. Thus the company has deployed considerable resources to cover clients' cloud computing needs.

Providing an example of an IBM customer that initially had reservations about moving to the cloud, Professor Giuseppe Visaggio of the Department of Informatics at Italy's University of Bari, said all reservations went by the wayside when IBM backed the cloud environment with an IBM System z mainframe running Linux.

"The mainframe has a way to work that is more efficient," Visaggio said. He added that IBM's services support was critical to the project's success.

The University of Bari is located on the southern Italian region of Puglia, an area with an economy primarily based on small and medium-sized agriculture and food product businesses. In an effort to sustain local economic development, the university wanted to build a system that would enable local fishermen, wine growers and others to contract for services through a portal that would enable them to decrease time-to-market, reduce transportation costs, reduce the amount of wasted products and improve overall product quality, IBM said.

The university worked with IBM to build a solution that leveraged cloud capabilities, System z, IBM software, storage and Global Technology Services. The system leverages these IBM assets to enable the university to deliver cloud computing services to the local community and allow multiple cloud entities to efficiently tap into heavy-duty computing power at minimal cost, IBM officials said.

However, it is the use of analytics that has been a major hit with users of the University of Bari system, particularly fishermen who are relying on the system's analytics to decide where to sell their fish. The cloud analytics solution analyzes market data and suggests to the fishermen where they should sell their fish that day.

"Before the cloud, when the fish catch was more than the market could take, the [excess] fish were tossed overboard," Visaggio said. "But now, after the cloud, when there are more fish, the thing is to sell it at low cost to a social institution."

So not only does the IBM-enabled solution help the fishermen pick the best market to sell their fish, but when they cannot sell them all, the cloud helps them find alternative ways to distribute the fish rather than to throw them away. That is an example of how IBM is helping to provide for a smarter planet, IBM officials said.

Moreover, IBM maintains that smarter computing enables business innovation, Rao said, citing Citigroup as a reference customer for going smarter. Rao said Citigroup, with 60,000 servers worldwide and 8,500 development servers serving 20,00 internal application developers, had an average server provisioning time of 45 days. "We created a cloud environment for them, and we were able to cut that provisioning time down to 20 minutes," Rao said. 

Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

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