IBM Takes on the Cloud


What will it take to build a 21st-century IT Infrastructure? IBM says it has a plan and is ready to bring virtually all of its hardware, software and services prowess to deliver one that is heavy on flexibility, dynamism and speed.

The question, though, is can any single regime provide the kind of all-encompassing environment that can accommodate the wide variety of applications and activities that likely will crop up on a daily basis in the cloud-based future?

IBM unveiled a wide-ranging initiative this week that purports to deliver intelligence, automation, integration and efficiency to both the physical plant and the digital world it contains, promising a robust environment that can be quickly reconfigured and repurposed to suit changing requirements.

The package consists of a number of key building blocks, including:


  • IBM Services Management Industry Solutions, a set of software and services aimed at seven key industries: utilities, chemical/petroleum, telecommunications, retail, banking, electronics and manufacturing. The package includes offerings from existing IBM service organizations, such as the company's Global Business Services, Global Technology and IBM Business Partner.
  • The new TS7650 ProtecTIER deduplication appliance, the fruit of the company's recent acquisition of Diligent Technologies. The device is a key component of the new XIV storage system, designed as a top-tier storage environment even though its minimum capacity configuration is reduced by 65 percent.
  • New Systems Director software that brings automated management to IBM and third-party Windows, Linux and UNIX platforms. The package includes virtual resource mapping, energy management and systems status monitoring.
  • New Tivoli software aimed at monitoring and managing energy consumption of non-IT assets, such as HVAC systems and even the lights in the parking lot.

All of this is certainly impressive, says analyst Gordon Haff, but it's hard not to look at all this through the cloud lens. And on that score, the key problem is that cloud services are designed to percolate from the bottom up, not the top down through an all-encompassing management regime.

Nonetheless, full-service data center platforms are likely to be the norm going forward. Last month, HP rolled out a series of updates to its Adaptive Infrastructure portfolio designed to bolster management and coordination of physical and virtual resources and tie it all in to a robust recovery platform should things go south.

According to this interview with Russ Daniels, HP's CTO and vice president of Cloud Service Strategy, the package, and its release as the AIaaS, are designed to extend ownership and control of those resources beyond IT and into the hands of users. It's a grand vision all right, but one that is no doubt fraught with availability and capacity issues that only trained IT professionals can address.

It's going to be interesting to watch the cloud evolve in the enterprise over the next few years to see if the flexibility demanded by users will overcome IT's desire to maintain control.