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IBM Updates Cloud Strategy and Offerings

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This week, IBM announced a suite of new offerings in support of cloud computing. The core of the announcement involved three new "on ramps" or mechanisms for deploying the cloud model:

  • IBM Smart Business standardized services on the IBM Cloud;
  • Smart Business private cloud services behind the firewall built by IBM (run by IBM or the client); and,
  • “CloudBurst” workload optimized systems, for clients who want to build to their own cloud with pre-integrated hardware and software.

All three offerings incorporate IBM's service management system. IBM used a "cloud consumption and delivery model" to optimize its offerings to serve two primary business areas: development and test and virtualized desktops.

Based on the following observation,

In many organizations software developers are fast becoming the nucleus of innovation, as IT becomes critical to all business processes. They build the services and capabilities that will drive future revenue and generate opportunity. In fact, developers are driving so much business value that the average enterprise devotes 30 to 50 percent of its entire technology infrastructure to development and test, but typically up to 90 percent of it remains idle.

In addition to high cost of inefficiently delivering this function and low utilization rates, today software developers lose a massive amount of time and productivity getting permissions and access to the systems and tools they need to do their jobs. Safely enabling developers to serve themselves can help reduce IT labor costs by 50 percent, reduce provision cycle times from weeks to minutes and improve quality, eliminating software defects by up to 30 percent.

IBM will configure versions of all three of its offerings optimized to support development and testing. Only the first two offerings (on the client's internal cloud or on IBM's public cloud) will be optimized to support virtual desktops. These will be labeled, "IBM Smart Business Desktop Cloud," and "IBM Smart Business Desktop on the IBM Cloud," respectively. The need for virtual desktop offerings is supported by:

IBM’s clients have also seen success with leveraging cloud computing to virtualize desktops. Using up to 73 percent less power than traditional desktops and laptops, servers can more efficiently manage this work and deliver a better end-user experience. Based on IBM internal data from client engagements, virtualized desktops can also lower end-user IT support costs by up to 40 percent over a traditional environment. When it comes to upstart technologies.

This announcement is less of new technological offerings than it is a consolidation, integration, and enhancement of IBM offerings that have been reported previously in InfoQ, the cloudburst appliance, and bluecloud as well as, reported elsewhere, IBM's Websphere Cloud for developers.

Reaction to IBM's announcement include this observation by the New York Times:

. Even though Big Blue has been taking a measured approach, today’s announcement can prove to be the tipping point for cloud computing in the corporate arena. The new IBM effort hopefully will alleviate many corporate concerns such as security of data, service reliability, and regulatory issues.

IBM's CEO, Sam Palmisano is quoted:

The information technology infrastructure is under stress already, and the data flood is just accelerating. We’ve decided that how you solve that starts by organizing technology around the workload.” In other words, IBM’s approach to cloud computing: task-specific clouds.

An interesting question raised by this statement; "what is the relationship between these offerings and other IBM initiatives in enterprise cloud computing, specifically SOA?"

An equally interesting question, "is the philosophy behind these cloud offerings a recapitulation of the classic IBM mainframe with semi-intelligent terminals?"

With this announcement, IBM joins the ranks of Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft and Cisco Systems, Sun (Oracle), and Amazon in offering cloud computing infrastructure to large companies - the supposed next big growth area for the IT business. This appears to be a tactical necessity for IBM, but will it turn out to be a strategic opportunity for IBM's clients?


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