Less Is More: Virtualization and Cloud Computing

By Stan Gibson  |  Posted 2009-02-23 Print this article Print


One technology gaining attention because of its money-saving potential is virtualization, which Killeen said is key to more efficient use of the company's IT infrastructure. GM is implementing VMware ESX as well as Sun Microsystems' virtualization technologies in its data centers.

Although GM is not yet utilizing cloud computing services such as those offered by Amazon.com and Google, the company is taking a hard look at those offerings, said Killeen.

Cloud computing services are related in concept to the GM's all-outsourced strategy, he noted. "The cost of that kind of environment is very enticing. It does fit an outsourced model. It's less a cultural change for GM. We've been in the mode of having our data somewhere else for some time," Killeen said.

Nonetheless, a company like GM can ill afford downtime, a problem that cloud computing providers such as Google and SAAS (software as a service) providers such as Salesforce.com have suffered from.

Click here to read more about the trend toward "private clouds."

GM would expect guarantees of uptime in any deals with cloud providers, Killeen. "We would need to have the right service-level agreements," he said, adding that the idea of GM or a service provider building an "intracloud" that would serve only GM is an attractive idea that he is scrutinizing.

The bottom line

While Killeen enables GM to work as a global company and marshals GM's IT resources to support stringent economies, GM must continue to pursue its larger corporate strategy of introducing new vehicles and winning over buyers.

As IHS Global Insight's Wolkonowicz sees it, GM must convince the American public that the company is at the forefront of automotive technology. Cars like the electric-powered Chevrolet Volt can go a long way toward getting that message across, said the analyst.

"Their technology is leading, but the public does not realize it," Wolkonowicz said.

If Killeen and company can keep GM on a steady course though the economic maelstrom of 2009, the public may yet have a chance to develop that understanding.  

Stan Gibson is Executive Editor of eWEEK. In addition to taking part in Ziff Davis eSeminars and taking charge of special editorial projects, his columns and editorials appear regularly in both the print and online editions of eWEEK. He is chairman of eWEEK's Editorial Board, which received the 1999 Jesse H. Neal Award of the American Business Press. In ten years at eWEEK, Gibson has served eWEEK (formerly PC Week) as Executive Editor/eBiz Strategies, Deputy News Editor, Networking Editor, Assignment Editor and Department Editor. His Webcast program, 'Take Down,' appeared on Zcast.tv. He has appeared on many radio and television programs including TechTV, CNBC, PBS, WBZ-Boston, WEVD New York and New England Cable News. Gibson has appeared as keynoter at many conferences, including CAMP Expo, Society for Information Management, and the Technology Managers Forum. A 19-year veteran covering information technology, he was previously News Editor at Communications Week and was Software Editor and Systems Editor at Computerworld.

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