IBM Plans to Fight Amazon on EC2 Turf

ibmIBM said today that it now has a storage infrastructure cloud aimed at enterprise customers who need a private, on-premise or IBM-hosted cloud. A public version will follow soon. Sure, everyone has a storage component combined with their infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) clouds, but what’s notable here is that IBM originally had no plans to get into what it called low-margin services like storage or providing cloud computing as a service.

I had heard that IBM may be changing its mind after some internal research showed what a huge opportunity providing basic infrastructure as a service could be, but IBM always denied it. However, today a company spokeswoman confirms that in addition to today’s launch of a private storage cloud and plans for a public one, IBM will also launch a basic IaaS product that will compare with services like Rackspace’s CloudServers, Amazon’s EC2 and Savvis. She declined to provide timing for either that offering or the launch a public-facing storage cloud, however.

The storage and cloud computing products will sit on the same infrastructure that underlies IBM’s other cloud-based services, such as its test and development cloud and other upcoming platforms as a service. The spokeswoman told me that the IaaS products will share an underlying infrastructure as well, so that customers can move between the public and private clouds seamlessly. This means that enterprise customers can take advantage of a public cloud for peaks in demand, without manually having to specifically provision one.

For the storage cloud, IBM is combining its General Parallel File System with storage hardware from its XIV line and servers from its BladeCenter line to provide performance and scalability out to multiple petabytes for billions of files, all under one globally addressable namespace. IBM said it will offer full support for standard file access protocols such as CIFS, NFS, HTTP, FTP, so that moving data into and out of its storage cloud is as simple as a file copy operation. Looks like IBM plans to provide both premium and low-cost cloud offerings.

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