IBM has been investing in cloud computing for several years, although Willy Chiu, VP of IBM Cloud Labs, acknowledges it may be difficult for those outside IBM to develop a picture of what its cloud initiative will finally look like.That's because so far IBM has chosen to make point announcements of limited cloud products. Its CloudBurst appliance was announced in June, a blade server that can be loaded with IBM software and used as cloud building block.
At Structure 09, the June 25 cloud computing conference sponsored by GigaOm in San Francisco, Chiu said: "Cloud computing is a new way of consuming IT." That's a radical view, a step ahead of the evolutionary view that the cloud will start out as an IT supplement. That is, it will absorb specific workloads, such as business intelligence or a new consumer facing application. In the long run, Chiu said, it will host many IT activities and services.
In a recent interview, Chiu elaborated. IBM systems management software, Tivoli, has been given a set of services to administer the cloud. They include: Services Automation Manager, Provisioning Manager and Monitoriong Manager. So far these services are designed to provision and manage workloads running in VMware virtual machines, but there is no restriction that limits Tivoli to VMware file formats.
IBM's CloudBurst appliances are based on Intel, not IBM Power, chips and will make use of eight-core Nehalem or Xeon 5500 chips. The CloudBurst appliance "brings a lot of piece parts together into a coherent package," he says. Customers will be able to consult a catalogue of software combinations for CloudBurst, such as DB2 combined with the WebSphere Application Server.
"We create the templates and load them with VMware licenses. The customer can then select the software from a self service approach," and buy the above combination, or, say, Rational development tooling that fits a project about to get underway.
Software testing and quality assurance is another area where a CloudBurst appliance, either inside or outside the enterprise, could be used to advantage, he said.
In effect, IBM is going to offer its expertise in constructing enterprise software environments as part of a self service catalogue. Place your order and decide where you want to run it, on premises or in a cloud ready to host VMware virtual machines.