IBM Giving Businesses Utility Computing Help

New IBM services help those interested in utility computing figure out where to start.

As Dev Mukherjee spoke with IT administrators at the Gartner Symposium this week in Orlando, Fla., about utility computing initiatives being proposed by various OEMs, he kept hearing that the goals make sense, but that they were unsure where to begin.

As luck would have it, Mukherjee said, IBM on Thursday is unveiling Infrastructure Management Assessment Services to help enterprises with that very problem.

"The missing link has been someone coming along and helping customers figure out where to start," said Mukherjee, vice president of IBMs e-business on-demand initiative. "What were offering is a set of services to help customers work out where to get started."

IBMs on-demand strategy has similar goals as Hewlett-Packard Co.s Adaptive Enterprise and Sun Microsystems Inc.s N1 initiatives: to make an enterprises IT infrastructure more flexible and responsive to business demands, and enable businesses to pay for their data center resources much the same way people pay for utilities.

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The goal of IBMs new services is to give users a complete assessment of their IT operations and how they can better run, manage and utilize the resources within them, Mukherjee said.

"The big challenge is the need to integrate and manage … these different silos [within the data center]," he said.

The Infrastructure Management Assessment Services encompass several steps, with most engagements beginning with an on-demand workshop. IBM representatives spend a few days at the site to help businesses identify opportunities to create a more flexible and on-demand environment, Mukherjee said. "Some companies already know what they want to focus on, but for many customers, this would be the first step," he said.

Another service is the autonomic assessment, where IBM representatives, using the Armonk, N.Y., companys Tivoli management tool, dig into a customers systems management structure and find ways to streamline the management tools.

Finally there is the Universal Management Infrastructure, where customers can adopt an IT operation that mirrors how IBM does things in-house, Mukherjee said. IBM basically gives to these customers the software, architecture and best practices that it has acquired over the years "to help customers essentially adopt IBMs way of managing their environment," he said.

Overall, Infrastructure Management Assessment Services focus on certain areas of managing a data center, including how a customer manages its systems and its hardware and software assets. It also helps businesses decrease the chance of downtime and security problems, and to ease the introduction of new technology into the environment.

The new services are the latest within IBMs Project Symphony, which aims to help customers increase data center resource utilization, reduce costs and link their IT infrastructure with their business policies. Tivoli Intelligent ThinkDynamic Orchestrator, introduced in September, enables the use of Java-based policies to tie together IT and business policies. Earlier this month, IBM unveiled Web Infrastructure Orchestration, which integrates versions of WebSphere middleware, DB2 database, Tivoli Storage Manager software and TotalStorage hardware with its BladeCenter blade servers. The package is coordinated by Tivoli Intelligent ThinkDynamic Orchestrator and enables administrators to automate such tasks as deploying applications based on policies set by the business, IBM officials said.

Now that the new services help businesses assess their IT infrastructures, the next logical step in the services area of Project Symphony will be a way of helping customers implement their plans, Mukherjee said.

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