February 16, 2009

FT: IBM Creates a Cloud Computing Division

by Timothy Prickett Morgan

You know that Big Blue is getting serious about something when it creates a formal division to manage it. Last week, IBM announced that it was creating a cloud computing division just as it had also announced that key systems software would soon be available for deployment on Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2).

Technically speaking, Erich Clementi, who is currently IBM's vice president for strategy and who was formerly a general manager of the Business Systems division (which peddles gear to small and medium businesses) and the System z mainframe business, is now also general manager of Enterprise Initiatives, which is where the company is currently parking all of its cloud computing efforts. And instead of reporting up through Systems and Technology Group or Software Group or Global Services, like the other IBM groups do, this Enterprise Initiatives division reports directly up to IBM president, chief executive officer, and chairman, Sam Palmisano.

According to a report in the eWeek, Kristof Kloeckner has been appointed as chief technology officer of the cross-group, cross-divisional cloud computing division set up last week. Kloeckner was previous vice president of strategy and technology at Software Group.

IBM has launched 13 Blue Cloud centers around the world, which lets ISVs and customers monkey around with cloud technology, such as the open source Hadoop programming tools that are variants of technology deployed by Google, Yahoo, and others. IBM's Blue Clouds are based on its System x and BladeCenter machines and use X64 processors and sport the open source Xen hypervisor to virtualize server slices on the clouds. These centers are more about helping people deploy their own internal cloud infrastructure.

But IBM knows people are going to want to use public clouds for some workloads because of the relatively cheap economics, especially the Amazon EC2 cloud and its related S3 and EBS storage clouds. (S3 is for media files, while EBS is for block-style serving like that used on host computers.) I say especially because Amazon is breaking out in front of the relatively small cloud computing pack, supplying the broadest set of operating systems and middleware for users to deploy applications upon.

Last week, IBM said that it would be deploying a set of its systems and middleware software on the EC2 cloud, all running atop slices of Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10. Specifically, IBM is letting application developers who want to mess around with its DB2 and Informix Dynamic Server databases, its WebSphere Portal and WebSphere sMash mashup tools, and its Lotus Web Content Management software use these programs for free on EC2 slices. IBM said that in a few months it will roll out beta support for production grade instances of this software running on EC2, and presumably after some testing and the delivery of a set of Tivoli provisioning tools that can manage EC2 images, it will start selling this software. IBM plans to use the same Processor Value Unit (PVU) software pricing scheme for the software deployed on EC2 images as it does for software when it is deployed utility-style on servers inside customer data centers. You can see the PVU ratings for various EC2 slices here, and compare that to PVU ratings for at this link.


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