IBM's Cloud Push Could Be Good for Google

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2009-06-15 Print this article Print

UPDATED: I want to take this opportunity to comment on IBM's big cloud push, which the company unfurled in an exclusive June 15 to the New York Times' Steve Lohr. (Mea culpa. An IBM spokesperson explained to me that Lohr in fact broke an embargo. This was not an exclusive.)

GigaOm's Om Malik summarizes the offerings as consisting of: "Smart Business Test Cloud--a private cloud behind the client's firewall; Smart Business Development & Test on the IBM Cloud; and IBM CloudBurst, a comprehensive, preintegrated set of hardware, storage, virtualization and networking."

In short, it's about what you'd expect from an IT mega-vendor. Why is this a big deal? IBM has been pushing cloud computing for a couple of years with Blue Cloud and other, similar pay-by-the-drink, hardware+software virtualization announcements.

Indeed, as my colleague Jeff Burt noted on today, June 15: "All the major top-tier IT vendors--including Hewlett-Packard, Cisco Systems, Sun Microsystems, Microsoft, VMware, Google and cloud computing technologies and products to one degree or another.

But it is the potential impact of IBM's latest cloud bid on Google that I'm most excited about. While Google has been playing successfully in the consumer cloud for years, powering search and other Google Web services with its massive infrastructure arsenal, its enterprise-grade cloud offerings have barely scratched the surface of its potential.

Thanks to widely publicized outages at Google, and others, some business customers remain leery of the cloud. And if it isn't merely the outages that keep businesses from Google's door, the concern over tendering data to Google does.

Google has gotten large in the last 10 years, in case you haven't noticed. It is always hungry for your data, ostensibly to render better Web services. Some think Google is even trying to take over the world as the premier data warehouse. Google's hunger for data does little to assuage this chief concern.

Other slower-moving companies are sticking with Microsoft, which has enjoyed an enterprise chokehold Google is desperate to break. Their thinking seems to be, if it isn't broke, why fix it? Such tunes may change as we slide deeper into financial pitfalls.

Google is hardly hurting for cash. Still, the constant stingers by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer suggesting that Google is a one-trick pony in search ad revenue continue to stick in Google's cavernous craw.

IBM's support for cloud computing should foster greater good will among businesses where IBM is already a known entity. As the Times' Lohr quoted IDC analyst Frank Gens, "IBM knows how to do all of those things. Its strategy is all about making cloud computing safe for enterprise customers."

For that reason alone, Google would do well to get in bed better with IBM. I say better because IBM and Google have already been promoting parallel computing at major universities through the Academic Cluster Computing Initiative. An enhanced partnership could go a long way toward helping Google dispel the notion that it isn't a safe place to store enterprise data, provided it can curb some of the outages that tick off customers.

Let's look at how the companies might partner. One obvious way would be for IBM to offer Google enterprise search appliances alongside its own enterprise search tools. Google could repay the favor.

In its latest cloud play, IBM is offering to deliver desktops virtually to thin clients as a service that is delivered from its cloud, or to build this service in enterprise data centers using client infrastructure. Google certainly knows a thing or two about delivering Web services from its own cloud.

A less likely scenario would be for Google Apps to create some hooks to IBM LotusLive or for IBM to offer Google Apps ties to Lotus.

I realize that would be akin to IBM offering ties to Microsoft SharePoint from Lotus Domino, or vice versa. Eeeek. Unlikely. Still, stranger things happen in high tech, don't they?

If IBM can work with Cisco Systems on cooperative competition measures, why can't Google and IBM? Google would gain enterprise cred and IBM would gain cloud cred.

What's more symbiotic than that? |

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