IBM has been trying to get its Big Blue arms around cloud computing for a while, perhaps because the cloud is one of the few things in IT that IBM didn't help invent.
The vision from Armonk, N.Y., was fuzzy for a couple of years, but now the glasses are on and the focus appears to be sharpening. Following a five-year-long, multibillion-dollar development effort called Project Blue Cloud, IBM on June 16 will make available a new portfolio of cloud computing products and services that it claims will provide corporate users with ease of use to rival the consumer Web.
In short, IBM has designed and built a number of shortcuts for cloud computing development, so that an enterprise aiming to build its own internal or external cloud-type system can do it with the least amount of time, effort and capital.
Cloud computing, or utility computing, serves up computing power, data storage or applications from one data center location over a grid to thousands or millions of users on a subscription basis. This general kind of cloud-examples include the services provided online by Amazon EC2, Google Apps and Salesforce.com-is known as a public cloud, because any business or individual can subscribe.
Private clouds are secure, firewalled systems that tie together an enterprise with its supply chain, resellers and other business partners.
"What we are doing here is branding the choices that we are giving clients for the deployment of cloud solutions," IBM Cloud CTO Kristof Kloeckner told eWEEK. "It's a family of preintegrated hardware, storage, virtualization and service management solutions that target specific workloads."
Those workloads can be virtually anything a company needs to have done on a daily basis: e-mail, retail transactions, scientific computations, health record management, financial services, and a number of other functions.
Thus, IBM now sees cloud computing as a "reintegration of IT around types of work, with the most successful clouds being defined by the types of work they do-for instance a search cloud or a retail transaction cloud," Kloeckner said.
Three cloud models offered
IBM is now offering three cloud models for delivering and consuming development and test services:
- IBM Smart Business Test Cloud, a private cloud behind the client's firewall, with hardware, software and services supplied by IBM;
- Smart Business Development & Test, and Smart Business Application Development & Test, which use Rational Software Delivery Services on IBM's existing global cloud system; and
- IBM CloudBurst, a preintegrated set of hardware, storage, virtualization and networking [options], with a built-in service management system.
The underpinnings of all this are Tivoli Provisioning Manager 7.1 and the new Tivoli Service Automation Manager, which automates the deployment and management of computing clouds.
Tivoli Storage as a Service is the foundation for IBM's Business Continuity and Resiliency Services cloud. Beginning later in 2009, developers will be able to use Tivoli data protection via a cloud service.