IBM Unveils Cloud Computing Division, Strategy and Partnership

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2009-02-10

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- It took a while longer than some of its competitors, but as of Feb. 10, it appears that big, hulking IBM finally does have the start of a cohesive cloud computing strategy in place.

In 2008, Cisco Systems, Dell, Symantec, Sun Microsystems, Hewlett-Packard, EMC and dozens of lesser-known companies all named the cloud computing genre and established their own dedicated divisions to organize the development, marketing and sales of hardware, software and services in this burgeoning category.

But not IBM.

Oh, there had been plenty of separate "cloud-related" point products, "customer wins" and peripheral announcements (see this list), but the fact remained: If a potential customer wanted to talk to IBM about building a cloud computing system, there was no actual door on which to knock.

Until now, a potential IBM customer looking to build or refurbish a data center to supply infrastructure for cloud-type services must start with IBM Global Services and work his/her way through that formidable bureaucracy.

CEO Sam Palmisano apparently realized this and got things moving. The IBM Blue Cloud Initiative now has office space in Armonk, N.Y. There is now somebody to run it; that person is Erich Clementi, and he reports directly to Palmisano. There also is an IBM cloud computing CTO in place: Kristof Kloeckner.

Most importantly, IBM now has an experienced, dedicated networking partner -- Juniper Networks -- handling the cloud interconnectivity.

"Actually, in the overall scheme of things, for a company this size and scope, this all came about pretty fast," an IBM press officer confided to eWEEK.

On Feb. 9 at IBM's south San Jose research and development facility, analysts and members of the press corps were shown a live demonstration of how computing power can be provisioned and transferred from one cloud to another, anywhere in the world -- and from a public cloud systems to a private (inside the firewall) cloud -- by a mere drag-and-drop user interface.

We're talking about the convergence of a huge amount of IT complexity -- thousands of servers, switches, and other components in IBM cloud data centers in locations from San Jose to Beijing to Bangalore to Sao Paolo to Dublin -- all being controlled by one person somewhere else in the world with the right training and security clearances. Juniper installed this network capability into IBM's cloud labs.

"This is the first time this kind of demonstration has ever been made," said Dennis Quan, IBM's director of autonomic and cloud computing solutions.

IBM called it the first live demonstration of a global "overflow cloud." IBM and Juniper have installed hybrid cloud capabilities across IBM's nine worldwide cloud labs to be made available for customers.

Other highlights of the IBM Blue Cloud news:

--IBM unveiled a package called the Service Management Center for Cloud Computing, which contains a set of offerings -- drawn from all over the company -- that provide users with a platform upon which to build and deliver cloud services.

The underpinning of this is Tivoli Provisioning Manager 7.1 and the new Tivoli Service Automation Manager, which automates both the deployment and management of computing clouds. The IBM Service Management Center for Cloud Computing will include at least nine product/service packages later this year.

--IBM launched a Tivoli Storage as a Service offering through its Business Continuity and Resiliency Services cloud. Beginning later in 2009, developers will be able to use Tivoli data protection via a cloud service.

--IBM announced a new version of Rational AppScan 7.8, an application management system that enables Web services to be secure and regulations-compliant. Alongside the new Rational AppScan OnDemand, this service software ensures that Web services are monitored on a continuous basis and provide IT managers with ongoing security analysis.

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