IBM Significantly Expands Scope of Cloud Computing Effort

Michael Vizard
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Private Versus Public Cloud Computing

A plethora of applications are being considered for the cloud, but it may take at least another year before cloud computing goes mainstream in the enterprise.

IBM, at a cloud forum in New York today, significantly expanded its cloud computing portfolio with a series of offerings that includes a new platform-as-a-service (PaaS) that IT organizations can use to deploy either custom or packaged applications.

According to Lauren States, an IBM vice president and CTO for cloud computing, the IBM PaaS platform, which is part of the company's SmartCloud Services portfolio, is specifically designed to support traditional enterprise applications based on Java and DB2, including a dedicated implementation of SAP ERP application software. In the future, IBM will expand the types of applications and languages supported by its PaaS plaftform, said States, but, for the moment, IBM will focus its efforts on the types of applications that most of its customers currently run.

SmartCloud Services essentially gives customers the benefit of a private cloud running on top of IT infrastructure managed by IBM. Beyond supporting more traditional enterprise applications, the main difference between IBM's PaaS approach, called SmartCloud Application Service, and other offerings, says States, is that SmartCloud services are designed to be part of a larger enterprise cloud computing strategy in which IBM provides management tools that can be used to seamlessly administer IT resources deployed on premise or in the cloud.

Those other new IBM offerings are aimed at facilitating private cloud computing deployments. They include IBM SmartCloud Foundation, a series of tools for helping companies build private clouds on premise; SmartCloud Ecosystem, which are a series of services aimed at helping small-to-medium (SMB) organizations migrate to cloud computing; and IBM SmartCloud Entry solution, a set of building blocks to create private clouds on virtualized IBM System x and Power Systems hardware. IBM also rolled out SmartCloud Provisioning software and IBM SmartCloud Monitoring tools to automate the management of cloud computing deployments.


Building and deploying cloud computing resources is relatively simple, notes States, compared to the challenge of managing hybrid cloud computing scenarios that will soon be the norm in the enterprise.

States added that SmartCloud Services are also designed to help customers with the on-boarding process when it comes to migrating to cloud computing. A recent IBM survey of over 500 business and IT leaders shows that only 33 percent have deployed more than a cloud pilot today, but that number is expected to more than double in the next three years. SmartCloud Services give IT organizations an approach for becoming familiar with managing cloud computing resources without first having to dedicate a lot of physical IT resources to a cloud computing project.

Ultimately, States says the companies that have the most success with cloud computing are the ones that start out with some specific return on investment goals in mind. There's nothing wrong with embarking on a cloud computing project simply to gain experience with the technologies involved. But those companies that are managing a specific set of goals usually advance more rapidly, she said.

There are naturally a lot of layers to cloud computing at this point, adds States, so companies should not get too hung up on what type of cloud computing they are deploying today. Instead, they should focus on finding the cloud computing models that best fit their business needs.

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