IBM Upgrades Cloud Services


by Tony Kontzer

More than a year after the company announced its "Blue Cloud" strategy, IBM today revealed a lineup of cloud products and services designed to help its customers prepare for, deploy and manage cloud applications and services.

With its establishment of a cloud division that answers directly to CEO Sam Palmisano, IBM also has given prospective customers a concrete place to begin the process, saving them the potential frustrations of navigating through the company's giant global services arm. The goal is to help customers take advantage of cloud computing capabilities as quickly and simply as possible, says Dennis Quan, director of autonomic computing for IBM's software group.

"Cloud computing directly addresses many of the pain points that our clients are facing in their IT operations today. It's solving real business problems," Quan says. "We're trying to give companies a more complete set of capabilities for delivering cloud services."

IBM's new offerings start with a service called Infrastructure Strategy and Planning for Cloud Computing, which consists of a strategic workshop designed to establish a long-term plan to assess the readiness of a company to leverage their existing data center assets in a cloud computing model.

Once a company starts moving forward on development of cloud applications and services, IBM's new Design and Implementation for Cloud Test Environments helps it build a cloud-testing platform within its own IT environment, helping to cut provisioning time, reduce the costs of setting up a test environment, and reducing human error with IBM's built-in automation and standardization capabilities.

IBM also is introducing several new software offerings designed to assist in managing deployed cloud resources. IBM Rational AppScan 7.8 and IBM Rational AppScan OnDemand help to ensure that cloud services are monitored continuously, and that they conform to a company's security, compliance and business policies and procedures. Meanwhile, Tivoli Provisioning Manager 7.1 and Tivoli Service Automation Manager are designed to help companies automate the deployment and management of cloud applications and services. Additionally, IBM plans to release several more software solutions this year, all under the umbrella of a new Service Management Center for Cloud Computing.

And later this year, IBM also will launch Tivoli Storage as a Service, which will offer access to IBM data protection technology as a pay-as-you-go service.

Eventually, IBM will introduce perhaps its most important capability when it begins offering tools for enabling "hybrid clouds" in which computing workloads can moved between private and public clouds, with a simple drag-and-drop motion. That will enable companies to automatically ensure the performance of high-priority applications when computing resources become constrained.

Pricing for IBM's new cloud offerings has not been revealed.