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IBM Insists That It Indeed Offers True 'Cloud Computing'

The Station posted an article Nov. 24 about IBM's new cloud computing services. The upshot: IBM's Global Services group will now help other companies determine whether their internal cloud computing systems are airtight and fully functional -- and certify them as such.

It's the equivalent of the old Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. (If you know what that means, then you are officially a "seasoned professional.") ;-)

The irony about this is that IBM itself appears to have no centralized cloud computing office or clearly elaborated strategy of its own for potential customers to use as a reference. Other IT leaders, such as EMC, Symantec, Dell and Cisco Systems, all have cloud computing divisions somebody can actually visit. They are all working on products and services for that specific sector, as new and Wild West as the space is.

As it is 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 way through the corporate bureaucracy.

We were a bit harsh in describing IBM in the headline as "finally" recognizing what it has long called "on-demand" or "software as a service" under the current industry terminology of "cloud computing." The company's been recognizing it, all right -- it just hasn't adopted the generally accepted moniker and gotten everybody on the same page yet. Not a simple task to do, for sure.

We're not contending that IBM doesn't know what the heck it's talking about. All we're saying is, hey, if you're going to coach "cloud," then it's probably a good idea to walk and talk "cloud."

IBM spokesperson Kevin Doak responded with an e-mail shortly after the story came out, saying he was "getting some grumbles from within IBM" about our characterization of the company as being out of sync on this important trend -- one that promises to become even more strategic for many companies as the world macroeconomy continues to unravel.

"Truth of the matter is that IBM has been building up its capabilities and momentum in the cloud space for more than a year, from both an infrastructure and services perspective," Mr. Doak said.

Good to know. But the elaboration of all this has been piecemeal, from our perspective. And if it's unclear to us, then it will likely be unclear to potential buyers.

So, in defense of Big Blue, Mr. Doak did some research and sent along this list of "Key Dates in Recent IBM Cloud Computing History":

IBM's Cloud Computing Year in Review

--October 8, 2007 - IBM announced a joint academic program with Google to help university students gain the skills to program cloud applications.

--Nov. 14, 2007 - IBM announced China Telecom using its "Idea Factory" via cloud.

--Nov. 15, 2007 - IBM unveiled "Blue Cloud," cloud computing technologies that allow corporate data centers to operate more like the Internet.

--Feb. 1, 2008 - IBM announced the first cloud computing center for Wuxi City of China.

--Feb. 5, 2008 - IBM announced a joint research initiative with 13 European partners to address the fluctuating demand for IT resources in a cloud computing environment.

--Feb. 25, 2008 - IBM extended the Google project with the National Science Foundation.

--March 19, 2008 - IBM and the IDA Ireland (Industrial Development Agency of Ireland) established Europe's first Cloud Computing Center in Dublin.

--March 26, 2008 - IBM announced an academic collaboration with Georgia Institute of Technology and Ohio State University to develop new autonomic technology for cloud computing.

--April, 2008 - Sogeti (a subsidiary of Cap Gemini) used IBM Idea Factory via the IBM Cloud Computing Center at Dublin to complete a companywide activity to generate business ideas.

--April 23, 2008 - IBM announced a new cloud-based offering targeting Web 2.0 companies called iDataPlex.

--April 23, 2008 - Criteria of working with the National Science Foundation on Cloud Computing.

--May 9, 2008 - IBM announced the Vietnam Information for Science and Technology Advance Innovation Portal live on an IBM cloud computing infrastructure.

--June 18, 2008 - iTricity, a hosting service company based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, announced that it has chosen IBM technology to establish its cloud computing center.

--June 24, 2008 - IBM announced the African Innovation Center, which comprises a cloud computing center, a business partner center and a banking center of excellence.

--June 24, 2008 - IBM announced two new cloud computing centers in emerging markets, one in Beijing, China, and in Johannesburg, South Africa.

--Aug. 1, 2008 - IBM launched two new cloud centers in developed markets, one in Tokyo and in Raleigh, North Carolina.

--Sept. 24, 2008 - IBM launched four more cloud computing centers in emerging markets: India, Brazil, Korea and Vietnam.

--Oct. 6, 2008 - IBM launched cloud-enabled services.

--Oct. 24, 2008 - "IBM and NC State Democratize Education Through Cloud Computing"

Impressive, seriously. We have here a good list of disparate cloud-related IBM events that took place during the last year.

But we're still seeing what marketing folks love to call "point solutions." We don't perceive the establishment of a clear cloud-computing strategy on IBM's part -- something a potential customer can hold in his or her hands and evaluate.

Clarification may happen in the near future. Mr. Doak assured me, "I think you'll definitely see a more centralized approach from IBM moving forward, particularly since cloud computing is currently among the top priorities within the company. Stay tuned, we're looking forward to continuing the conversation."

So are we.

A final note: If we don't see you before Thanksgiving, please have a peaceful one.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 15 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...