This year's competition shines a light on the very best that IT vendors have to offer in cloud computing, network management, security, virtualization, wireless, and more. We also picked a top startup and gave out a green award.
Winner: IBM -- Smart Business Development & Test on the IBM Cloud
Judges: John Foley, InformationWeek; Charles Babcock, InformationWeek
The launch of IBM's Development and Test cloud service in the second quarter is a milestone for Big Blue and, in some respects, for the IT industry, as well.
IBM has put an unmistakable enterprise stamp on its new offering, which is called Smart Business Development & Test on the IBM Cloud. Customers that want to tap into IBM's cloud environment have to be approved and sign a contract before they're granted access.
That model will make it difficult for individual developers and entrepreneurs, who are flocking to services such as Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud and Google's App Engine, to take advantage of IBM's new service. But what some will perceive as a drawback will appeal to others, in particular enterprise IT departments that are wary of putting their corporate data and code side by side with unvetted third parties. IBM describes its cloud service as having "enterprise-grade" security and control.
That focus on enterprise requirements helps explain the choice of IBM's Development and Test cloud as the Best of Interop winner in the cloud computing category. The service, in beta test since October, becomes commercially available this quarter.
IBM has cloud computing environments and initiatives in its facilities around the world, but Development and Test really represents its first commercial service with a combination of the key attributes that you'd expect from the cloud--multitenancy, self-service, usage-based pricing, and ready-to-use virtualized software images. IBM's Development and Test cloud service is hosted from an IBM data center in Raleigh, North Carolina.
As its name indicates, IBM's service is geared to software development and testing, an area of enterprise IT that's well suited to the cloud model. Corporate software development projects tend to temporary in nature, yet require substantial computing and storage resources when they kick into high gear. IBM says that software development and test projects can consume as much as 30% of a company's IT infrastructure--resources that are often underutilized.
A key component of the service is its use of IBM's Rational tools, which support agile development by teams of programmers from beginning to end, or so-called lifecycle development. Here too, the cloud model makes sense, facilitating collaboration among developers in different time zones and geographies.
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