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IBM Expands Cloud Computing Appliances, Services

New products and services will let companies deploy task-specific internal clouds, while also tapping into new public cloud services.

IBM is expanding its push into the fast-growing cloud computing market with new "purpose built" cloud appliances, public cloud services for business, and integration services to help companies build internal and hybrid clouds.

IBM has been expanding its cloud computing portfolio since October 2007, when it partnered with Google to offered cloud computing environments to university students and academic researchers. Over the past 20 months, Big Blue has launched 13 cloud computing centers around the world, unveiled its Blue Cloud technology for corporate data centers, made software available on Amazon Web Services, and rolled out its LotusLive collaboration applications as a service.

The vendor's newest offerings build on that foundation with products and services for building private clouds behind the corporate firewall, public clouds, and hybrid clouds that span both corporate data centers and public services. "We see huge opportunity in this space," said Kirstof Kloeckner, IBM's VP of cloud computing platforms and CTO of the company's recently formed Enterprise Initiatives cloud computing division.

IBM is introducing two public cloud services -- for software development and testing and for virtualized desktop environments -- under the IBM Smart Business brand. Its Smart Business Application Development & Test service, available in a pre-beta, preview release, is aimed at customers of its Rational software development tools. The service is intended as an alternative to developing and testing software on a company's internal IT systems. Kloeckner said one-third to one-half of computer hardware in some companies is used for software development and testing.

IBM also plans to offer virtual desktops as a service. Its Smart Business Desktop service, also in preview mode, will let customers run desktop images in IBM's cloud.

A new line of task-specific appliances, marketed under the CloudBurst label, will let IT departments deploy cloud-like services internally. The appliances combine IBM's BladeCenter HS22 Intel-based blade servers and IBM Tivoli service-management, monitoring, and provisioning tools with VMware virtualized images and other software designed to support specific workload types. Initially, IBM will offer a CloudBurst appliance for software development and testing. An appliance for analytics and others are planned.

In addition, IBM's services division will help companies build self-service computing clouds inside their data centers on existing infrastructure and, as required, extend those environments to public cloud services. Such custom-built clouds will let companies leverage their existing IT investments, while creating more flexible and scalable data centers, Kloeckner said.

Hybrid clouds will let companies plan for and run normal processing workloads in their data centers, while overflowing data and applications to public services during demand spikes or for special projects. Hybrid clouds will be "sweet spot" for IBM, Kloeckner said.

InformationWeek has published an in-depth report on private cloud computing. Download the report here (registration required).

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