IBM launched late Monday a new portfolio of products and services for the enterprise cloud computing market, which the company claims builds on lessons learned from earlier cloud initiatives.
Targeted at providing standardized platforms for specific computing workloads, the products and services, launched under the Smart Business and IBM CloudBurst monikers, aim to change the way IT organizations build and deliver IT services.
"Cloud is an important new consumption and delivery model for IT and business services. Large enterprises want our help to capitalize on what this model offers in a way that is safe, reliable, and efficient for business," Erich Clementi, general manager of enterprise initiatives at IBM, said in a statement. "Today's Smart Business announcement demonstrates that we take this responsibility seriously with cloud investment and solutions targeting the early opportunity."
I spoke with Dennis Quan, director of autonomic computing at IBM, and asked him to break the announcement down with a little more detail. Quan started by noting that IBM has been pursuing cloud and autonomic computing initiatives for some time now and that these initiatives have taught the company lessons that were invaluable in developing Smart Business.
"For instance," said Quan, "new workloads like large-scale business analytics and information processing are driving new specialized approaches to computing."
Quan noted that standardizing these approaches, through automation and service management, is critical to meeting new IT demands.
Initially, IBM is focusing on two core workload types in the Smart Business offerings: development/test and virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). According to Quan, the company will expand the list of workload offerings over the coming months and years.
Quan highlighted three delivery models for Smart Business cloud products and services:
Public cloud. IBM will provide its Smart Business portfolio as software services delivered directly from its IBM Cloud data centers located around the world.
Private cloud services. For Smart Business workloads, customers can engage IBM Global Services to assist them in building cloud computing infrastructures within their own data centers.
CloudBurst private cloud infrastructure. Initially only available for development/test workloads, IBM will offer a 42U data center rack of pre-installed and configured hardware and software as a "drop-in" private cloud option.
Data Center Knowledge had some more details about the CloudBurst rack:
The basic CloudBurst package includes:
- 1 42U rack
- 1 BladeCenter Chassis
- 1 3650M2 Management Server, 8 cores, 24GB RAM
- 1 HS22 CloudBurst Management Blade, 8 cores, 48GB RAM
- 3 managed HS22 blades, 8 cores, 48GB RAM
- DS3400 FC attached storage
- IBM CloudBurst service management pack
- IBM Tivoli Provisioning Manager v7.1
- IBM Tivoli Monitoring v6.2.1
- IBM Systems Director 6.1.1 with Active Energy Manager; IBM ToolsCenter 1.0; IBM DS Storage Manager for DS4000 v10.36; LSI SMI-S provider for DS3400
- VMware VirtualCenter 2.5 U4; VMware ESXi 3.5 U4 hypervisor
James Staten, principal analyst at Forrester Research, told me that IBM has an advantage here.
"IBM came to these solutions from a point of credibility based on conversations they started over a year ago," said Staten. "Many other systems vendors haven't done that, and it could hurt them in the long term."
Staten also noted, however, that IBM has chosen to handle the public cloud elements of Smart Business entirely on its own, choosing to compete with service providers rather than partner with them. This could put IBM into direct competition with some large customers, such as telecommunications companies and large hosting providers, according to Staten.
The Smart Business services are available now, while the IBM CloudBurst system will ship Friday.