IBM Offers Cloud Computing Help

IBM on Monday announced consulting services specifically designed to help organizations assess their options in using cloud computing technology. "Cloud computing" is a much argued term, but it typically refers to solutions delivered over the Internet, rather than via customer premises-installed software.

Big Blue will help companies assess the economics of using cloud computing infrastructure. It also is providing technical advice on adding cloud computing solutions to datacenters. Finally, IBM offers help with security in cloud computing initiatives.

IBM Global Business Services provides economic consultation services, assisting organizations of all sizes on cloud computing total cost of ownership, according to IBM's announcement.

For those needing help adding cloud computing solutions to datacenters, IBM offers advice through its IBM Global Technology Services group.

Organizations have three cloud computing options. They can build "private clouds," such as at a company's datacenter. Alternatively, they can access services from public clouds. The third option is a "hybrid cloud model" that combines private and public clouds, according to IBM's announcement.

In addition to offering consulting services, IBM announced a "Resilient Cloud Validation" program, which is expected to be available in "early 2009." It's a logo-branding program aimed at companies that collaborate with IBM. According to its announcement, IBM will validate "any company delivering applications or services to clients in the cloud environment" under the program.

Last year, IBM announced "Blue Cloud," a cloud computing initiative in China and Vietnam. The datacenter deployment was based on "Xen and PowerVM virtualized Linux operating system images and Hadoop parallel workload scheduling," according to an IBM announcement. IBM Tivoli software was used for management.

On Monday, IBM announced that it has a new pilot cloud computing initiative in China code-named "Yun," which means "cloud" in Chinese. IBM provided few details, but Yun requires "zero human input" to manage a customer's application in terms of "storage, server and network resources," according to IBM's announcement.

IBM also announced its "Bluehouse" beta this month, which combines collaboration and Web conferencing services for business users.

The company currently has 13 cloud computing centers worldwide, according to Willy Chiu, IBM's vice president for high performance on demand solutions.

Big Blue's cloud computing announcements follow last month's debut of the Azure Services Platform, Microsoft's own cloud computing offering. IBM has lots of experience with datacenters, but Microsoft has been quietly building out its own datacenter network of late to launch its hosted solutions.

IBM, with its heavy focus on service-oriented architecture (SOA) and meeting the needs of vertical businesses, describes its cloud computing initiative in SOA terms.

"SOA is to cloud computing as HTML is to the internet," said Irving Wladawsky-Berger, chairman emeritus of the IBM Academy of Technology, as quoted the company's white paper, "IBM Perspective on Cloud Computing" (PDF).

Wladawsky-Berger explains in a video at IBM's cloud computing Web site that people should look to IBM to lead them through the cloud.

"Given that IBM is the recognized leader in the datacenter -- both in hardware, software and servers -- everyone would expect that it is IBM that should be the leader in evolving these datacenters toward cloud computing," he said.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is online news editor, Enterprise Group, at 1105 Media Inc.