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IBM Talks Up Cloud Computing

"Cloud computing is a new way of consuming IT," says Willy Chiu, vice president of IBM Cloud Labs.

At the end of a daylong conference, IBM got a moment in the sun to talk about what it's doing in the cloud. Willy Chiu, VP of IBM Cloud Labs, illustrated how IBM is moving from supplying academics with cloud services to building cloud centers for business and offering cloud appliances.

"Cloud computing is a new way of consuming IT," said Chiu, the father of Blue Cloud, in a talk at Structure 09, a daylong San Francisco conference on cloud computing.

A key feature of cloud computing is self-service by business users--"we're putting IT resources directly into the hands of people." Since October 2007, IBM has worked with 35 universities, extending cloud services to students and researchers. Now it's built nine IBM Cloud Labs for business around the world and will expand the number to 20, Chiu said.

In China, IBM is offering a cloud services factory, Wuxi, intended to serve the needs of two million software engineers in the next two years. Software developers have been among the earliest users of cloud computing concepts because they need to extensively test their code to run in a wide range of configurations and environments. They frequently use virtual machines to do so, and moving virtual machines into the cloud is now a basic concept of cloud computing.

Soon the Wuxi cloud factory will "go beyond software developers to become a supplier of e-government Web services" for a Chinese province, Chiu said.

In Vietnam, IBM has teamed up with the Vietnamese government to make telecom-related services available throughout "a long narrow country. The government views cloud computing as a way to move to a services-lead economy," he said.

In South Africa where there's a shortage of IT skills, IBM is partner to a major bank that is attempting to roll out 200 automated processes through cloud services. "We created standard templates of complex software stacks and test processes," he recounted. The bank offices will gain the automated processes through the cloud without needing the IT skills to implement them itself in each location, he said.

In the Middle East, IBM and Carnegie Mellon University have sponsored a project to create a vertical, oil industry cloud in Qatar that can be share by different companies in the petroleum business. It's hoped that cloud computing will further collaboration and shared skills "in an industry-wide cloud for that region," he said.

In addition to Cloud Labs and individual projects, IBM is also now offering CloudBurst appliances, or specific tasks encapsulated in VMware virtual files with Tivoli service management software loaded on HS22 BladeCenter servers. IBM wheels the combination into a data center ready to be plugged in as a component of an internal cloud, Chiu said.

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