IBM last year unveiled Blue Cloud, a set of offerings that, in IBM's words, will let corporate data centers "operate more like the Internet by enabling computing across a distributed, globally accessible fabric of resources." The pieces of Blue Cloud include virtual Linux servers, parallel workload scheduling, and IBM's Tivoli management software. In the first phase, IBM is targeting x86 servers and machines equipped with IBM's Power processors; in phase two, IBM will loop in virtual machines running on its System z mainframes. Blue Cloud is "not just about running parallel workloads but about more-effective data center utilization," says Denis Quan, CTO of IBM's High Performance On Demand Solutions unit.
IBM's first commercial cloud computing data center is going up in Wuxi, in southern China. It will provide virtualized computing resources to the region's chipmaking companies.
IBM's advantage in cloud computing is its expertise in building, supporting, and operating large-scale computing systems. IBM got into cloud computing a few years ago with its Technology Adoption Program, an "innovation portal" run out of the Almaden Research Center to give engineers on-demand resources, such as DB2 databases and Linux servers.
Last October, IBM announced a partnership with Google to provide cloud computing gateways to universities. Intended as a way of teaching university students how to use parallel programming models, the initiative is "critical to the next generation of cloud-based applications," Quan says. Three cloud computing centers for academia have gone live, one at Almaden, one at the University of Washington in Seattle, and one in a Google data center.
For IT departments, IBM's cloud software, systems, and services can be brought together into what the vendor calls the "New Enterprise Data Center," with quality-of-service guarantees to reassure CIOs that there's nothing hazy about the cloud.