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7/8/2010
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IBM Eyes Plug-And-Play Cloud Framework

Big Blue will work with governments and academia on "fundamentally new notion" of an interoperation hub.

IBM said it plans to collaborate with European researchers to develop a computing architecture that will allow businesses to more easily blend cloud services from multiple providers. The effort aims to overcome one of the largest obstacles to broad adoption of cloud computing—complex and expensive integration work.

"Up until now, organizations have had to invest significant time and money in conventional, mostly manual blending and customizing efforts to enable their e-business service operations to communicate and work collaboratively," said Fabiana Fournier, a scientist with IBM Research.

IBM's research lab in Haifa, Israel will lead the project, which has been dubbed Artifact-Centric Service Interoperation (ACSI).

IBM computer experts will collaborate with counterparts at numerous European academic and government organizations, including the UK's Imperial College of Science, Technology, and Medicine, Technische Universiteit Eindhoven in the Netherlands, Estonia's University of Tartu, and the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, Italy.

The central goal of the effort is to employ open-source software to build what IBM is calling "the fundamentally new notion" of an interoperation hub. As envisioned, the hub would be an automated integration point for incoming cloud services. ACSI also relies on so-called dynamic artifacts that represent specific business processes.

"We are pushing the frontiers of e-services by providing a highly data-centered approach to combine them, and we are pushing the frontiers of cloud computing by incorporating a semantically rich enabler of e-service blending into the cloud," said IBM Research manager Richard Hull.

"We expect the ACSI interoperation hub framework to provide a paradigm shift in the way e-services, and more generally enterprises, can work together," said Hull.

IBM believes the approach will allow businesses to reduce cloud integration costs by up to 40% by eliminating much of the custom, manual work the process ordinarily requires. It also plans to push ACSI as a gateway through which smaller businesses can tap cloud services without having to take on additional IT resources.

"ACSI represents a new combination of computer science principles that are designed to enable businesses to retain a laser focus on operations and goals as they achieve new efficiencies in blending and interleaving e-services," said IBM's Fournier.

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