Recently, we saw the launch of a commercial grid computing service in Singapore. The service, named Alatum (Latin for winged), is the result of cooperation between many parties, including Singapore Computing Systems (SCS), HP, NewMedia Express, Fujitsu Asia, Microsoft, 1-Net Singapore and PTC System. It offers a combination of computing, storage and applications that are delivered on a pay-per-use model, and is aimed at the SMB market.
Cloud needs cooperation
For cloud computing to become more attractive to the SMB there needs to be a tight integration of different, low-level, cloud services otherwise the cost and complexity of making those work together still falls on the SMB and becomes as complex and time consuming as the maintenance of on-premise alternatives. In some markets this complexity may be managed by commercial ecosystems, such as the Salesforce.com AppExchange or Microsofts new offerings, while in some regional markets there may even be a state or government body facilitating that cooperation.
The coordination body for Alatum is Singapores Infocomm Development Authority (IDA). The IDA is the arm of the Singapore government that is responsible for the growth of the nations information and communications technology sector. It acts as the governments CIO and is responsible for the long-term technology strategy for the country Intelligent Nation 2015 (iN2015). The IDA initiated the programme that spawned Alatum through a commercial tender in late 2007.
The Alatum initiative has three separate consortium arrangements, working together to deliver a series of integrated services. The first consortium is for computing provision, with SCS and HP at the core. The second consortium, nGrid, focuses on the application layer, offering Microsoft Office, ERP, content management and other applications for a monthly fee. The third is focused on storage, with PTC System a core provider.
Although large locally, Alatum is tiny on a global scale
Large-scale cloud provision is often considered to be a trend that is global, given the huge capital resources that are required to build it to a size where the economies of scale kick in. However, many local and private clouds will also be established such as Alatum in Singapore in a response to demand for domestic service provision and the need to sustain local ICT economies around the world.
At its launch Alatum is described as having around 2,400 processors and 16 terabytes of storage, with plans to continue expansion over the first year. While this sounds like a lot of computing power, it is dwarfed by the investments being made by others on an international level. Microsoft, for example, is bringing around 10,000 servers per month online as part of its new online offerings. Facebook was reported earlier this year to have set aside funding to buy 50,000 servers during this year and next. Google and Yahoo have also made investments in enormous server farms.
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