Blog Post

With a Big Push, IBM Gives Cloud Computing Its Blessing

When it comes to upstart technologies, IBM is a kingmaker, says The New York Times. Thanks to its dominant position in selling IT services to mega-corporations, the company can turn nascent efforts such as personal computers (in the 1980s) and Linux (in 2000) into major technology trends, the Times says. And now, it is endorsing cloud computing with a major push. 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. In an interview with The New York Times, IBM Chief Executive Officer Sam Palmisano said, “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. The company will offer business processes as cloud services, according to a company press release. Here are the highlights of IBM’s announcement:

  • Smart Business Test Cloud — A private cloud behind the client’s firewall
  • Smart Business Development & Test on the IBM Cloud
  • IBM CloudBurst — a pre-integrated set of hardware, storage,
    virtualization and networking.

In addition, the company is going to offer a virtual desktop as a service, which would allow businesses to deliver desktops virtually to thin clients. IBM says it can offer these virtual desktops as a service that is delivered from its cloud. Or, instead, companies can have IBM build this service in corporate date centers using client infrastructure. Coming soon — cloud-based services such as business analytics and data storage.

We are not wee bit surprised — for the longest time we have been writing that the cloud will eventually morph into many clouds, each tailored to specific tasks. Think’s Force Cloud and Intuit’s recent move to offer small business-oriented cloud services. IBM has dubbed this approach of tailoring clouds to specific tasks as hybrid computing, a meaningless marketing term, if you ask me.

In many ways, it is back to the future for IBM, which benefited from the time share movement in the early days. Since then, the company has dabbled in utility computing, marketed on-demand services, and now is embracing cloud computing. Cloud computing is a loosely defined term: It signifies the ability to tap storage and processing resources remotely over the Internet as and when needed.

The current iteration of this utility-styled computing has been popularized by Amazon (s AMZN), and since then, several companies have started offering their own clouds. While the cloud efforts of these upstarts have been embraced by more agile startups, large corporations also want the ease of the cloud, but in a more secure environment. This is, incidentally, turning out to to be a major topic of conversation at our Structure 09 conference scheduled to be held in San Francisco on June 25.

With today’s announcement, IBM joins the ranks of Hewlett-Packard (s HWP), Microsoft (s MSFT) and Cisco Systems (s CSCO) in offering cloud computing infrastructure to large companies. This is being viewed as the next big growth area for the IT business.

The way we see it, IBM’s announcement is precisely what HP has been talking about: automation of tasks and the idea that for enterprises, cloud computing is less about offloading your IT and more about deciding which applications will be more cost-effective in external clouds or taken care of internally.

The idea of building an internal cloud is basically about making IT one big resource for the company rather than spread out through a variety of departments and business units. Honestly, both make sense for big corporate clients.

The story includes contributions from Stacey Higginbotham.

13 Responses to “With a Big Push, IBM Gives Cloud Computing Its Blessing”

  1. Cloud computing makes sense in a corporate environment, behind firewalls. It will definitely save loads on hardware as well as dedicated software licenses for the individual boxes. When we look at the greater whole I personally am not prepared to put my data out there, somewhere…..where I have no control over security and anything could happen. The big brother society we inhabit would like everything to go into a common cloud, as it would be very easy to identify poetential “undesirables”. I’ll stick to being the keeper of my own data, but will watch developments in this field with interest, as IBM is bound to make some serious inroads as well as coming up with innovative solutions.

  2. For me the interesting part of the announcement is the focus on software to make data center processes more efficient. In my world, I talk to many companies that are challenged with how to manage demand of scarce resources.

    Our answer has been to create an IT Front Office to complement the “back office.” This concept applies to private clouds. This front office needs to include self-service portal, a service catalog, ties to
    automation software, account and finance management, some billing…

    This type of software infrastructure is a key differentiator between your traditional data center. The old one requires every environment to be re-engineered, the new one is based on standard configurations. The old one was a black box when it came to costs, the new one has clear pricing.

    The old approach takes months to get a server in production, the new one minutes. But you can’t do that by filling out excel spreadsheets, going through change management, etc, etc. You really need a whole service catalog and lifecycle management system analogous to your e-commerce catalog and your Product Life Cycle management.

    Rodrigo Flores
    CTO, newSCale

  3. Hey nice information,But i think the company also rolled out the first parts of a cloud strategy designed to help IBM customers create and manage their own private clouds for software development.

  4. Artruro Jayson

    The IBM of today is that in name only. There is technically and practically no more IBM as the name once implied and they are now the least people we would want to endorse a concept like the cloud.

    Ultimately, computer users don’t want to keep all their personal computing data on anyone’s cloud, and the cloud is truly morphing into nothing more than multitudinous private network users sharing the same computer, without technically having their own computer. It’s a form of what we’ve already done.

    The success of personal computers, mobile devices, the use of cryptography in computers and computer security, and even Linux and Mac and computers in general, was strongly centered on getting away from it all and affording ones own privacy of thoughts. Expanding your mind, not allowing others access to your thoughts and information. The idea of a giant centralized cloud for everything has its uses, but is ultimately not looked at seriously as a practical development. It parallels the phenomena of social networking sites. Ultimately, we are each a social network and a cloud and would prefer to compute in this way. That means, don’t rule out the old trusty personal computer, software installation, web site, CPU, personal communication and personal physical interaction. Tried and true, and the way it is.

  5. While it is good to see IBM joining the ranks of companies embracing the cloud, I see it much more as a “me too” strategy than the leadership position I would have expected from Big Blue. Cloud computing as a technology has already been accepted by larger numbers of organizations world wide, because some degree of virtualization makes sense for almost every business and organization.

    I do agree with Lohr, that IBM’s entrance will reinforce many of the things we, and other firms like BlueLock have been saying for several years, but I think they should have said it sooner.

  6. Might really bring the cloud into the corporate sector – the IBM brand means a lot. It would be interesting to see how IBM plans to mint money from its cloud services. Has to be something different from Amazon and the others.

    • I think that is pretty much the plan for now. I wouldn’t be surprised that we see a more rapid adoption (or at least adoption intention curve over next few months) within corporate america.