IBM Touts Private Clouds
By Tony Kontzer
More than a year after it announced its "Blue Cloud" initiative, IBM is taking the covers off of a slew of cloud computing products and services it claims will help large companies to establish private clouds, manage them effectively, and create "hybrid clouds" that bridge private and public virtualized data centers.
Showcasing perhaps its most important contribution so far to the advancement of cloud computing, IBM executives on Monday demonstrated the ability to move computing workloads from a private cloud to a public cloud through a simple drag-and-drop motion. That capability, which IBM is calling an "overflow cloud", is being deployed across IBM's nine worldwide cloud computing labs, although when the service will be available to customers is not yet known.
Dennis Quan, director of autonomic computing for IBM's software group, says making a hybrid cloud reality is no easy feat. "When you drag and drop things from the private cloud to the public cloud, there are a lot of things that have to happen to make that come about," says Quan. "Both sides have to be able to mesh, and a hybrid cloud has to have secure communications channel underneath it." IBM partner Juniper Networks is providing that secure network connectivity.
IBM has been a notable presence on the sideline as the cloud computing market has taken shape over the past couple of years with the likes of Amazon and Google (itself a partner with IBM on the cloud front) offering pay-by-the-minute cloud capabilities to project teams, developers and individual workers armed with a credit card. IBM, conversely, appears to be focusing exclusively on enterprise-grade cloud services obtained through traditional IT procurement procedures, and it has established a cloud division that reports directly to CEO Sam Palmisano and serves as the front door for prospective cloud customers.
Customers have already responded, with companies such as Elizabeth Arden, the United States Golf Association and Indigo BioSystems turning to IBM for a variety of cloud services.
More companies figure to follow once IBM is able to get them past the primary obstacle that prevents companies from availing themselves to the cloud: security. It's an area IBM and Juniper are attempting to tackle, and one that both companies believe will become less of an issue as the business case for cloud computing becomes more compelling.
"It's only a matter of time before those misgivings are gotten over," says Raghu Subramanian, Juniper's senior director of strategy and planning. "Whenever there's a conflict between productivity and security, productivity always wins."
Hence, there are expectations that the floodgates will open: IDC predicts the cloud computing market will grow to $42 billion by 2012.
Among the specific offerings IBM is introducing today are:
-Infrastructure Strategy and Planning for Cloud Computing, a service for aiding businesses in planning cloud deployments and ensuring that companies take full advantage of their existing IT assets;
-IBM Design and Implementation for Cloud Test Environments, which helps companies create internal environments for testing new cloud applications and services;
-Service Management Center for Cloud Computing, a set of products and services that are designed to help companies build and deliver cloud services; and
-Tivoli Service Automation Manager, software that automates the deployment and management of cloud computing resources, and which should prove attractive to IT staffs already familiar with the Tivoli interface.
Additionally, IBM says it will launch a Tivoli storage service later this year that will offer on-demand storage specifically related to business continuity and disaster recovery.