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IBM continues to build up its cloud offering

Laurent Lachal | July 3, 2009
IBM needs to distinguish the wood from the trees

On 16 June 2009, IBM announced yet another string of cloud computing related offerings. This time the focus is on specific workloads (development and testing as well as virtual desktops) for large enterprises. The centrepiece of the announcement, the CloudBurst appliance, does not necessarily bring anything particularly new to the IBM cloud table. More exciting is the announcement of IBM entering the public cloud fray.

IBM needs to distinguish the wood from the trees

Ovum logoIBM has been making cloud-related announcements for about two years. The rate of these announcements has increased noticeably in the past six months. Its newest announcement features:

  • the CloudBurst Smart Business Systemfamily of appliances for enterprises that want to build their own cloud. It includes hardware, storage, networking, virtualisation and management software delivered with on-site QuickStart" implementation (and training) services. The first member of this family shipped on 19 June 2009

  • two Smart Business (cloud) Services: a private cloud offering (Smart Business Cloud) available immediately and a public cloud offering (Smart Business Service on the IBM Cloud) available as a preview only.

These components are the foundation on which IBM intends to build its cloud computing portfolio. The company now needs to work harder at bringing together its various cloud computing related announcements into a clear and coherent picture.

IBM enters the public cloud fray

CloudBurst is part of IBMs ongoing efforts to:

  • leverage and package together its hardware, software and services resources

  • make the package easier to consume (with single invoice, installation and support structure) and manage.

The Smart Business (private) Cloud is more interesting, and is a natural extension of IBMs data centre building and management capabilities. However, the company needs to more clearly distinguish data centre and private clouds and define the road from one to the other.

The Smart Business Service on the IBM Cloud is the most high-profile addition to IBMs new cloud computing portfolio. It puts IBM on a par with companies traditionally related to cloud computing (e.g. Amazon) as well as IBMs competitors moving to the cloud (e.g. Microsoft).

IBMs status and market influence will help hasten the pace of private and public cloud adoption, especially among large enterprises, but will not, as some commentators say, enable this adoption: clouds, especially public ones, will continue to emerge with or without IBM.

A workload-centric approach to cloud computing

IBM is targeting its new cloud computing offering at specific workloads. The term, which comes from the world of virtualisation, is in the process of becoming the darling of the IT industry. However, the focus on workload is not just about fashion. It enables IBM to take a one building block at a time approach to cloud computing and to be specific when it comes to the benefits of a particular workload.


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