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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.
IBM is also offering Smart Business private cloud services, such as Application Development and Test on external cloud hardware for users of its Rational tool line, and virtual desktop administration though a cloud service. IBM now offers LotusLive desktops as software as a service. Conversion to cloud-style computing "is not going to happen overnight," Chiu said at one point. But he concluded, "There's been an explosion of cloud adoption worldwide" and a "cultural change must accompany the technology shift."

Other speakers at the Structure 09 conference also addressed the "cultural" shift that cloud tends to bring. Instead of new knowledge, it's as much about executing good IT practices with known technologies as it is about implementing new technology, several speakers emphasized.

"You used to have people racking and stacking servers," said Lew Moorman, president of Rackspace Hosting, whose firm offers outsourced facilities. "Staff skills are constantly moving up," he added, and instead of connecting cables, they're connecting the dots in a virtualization management system.

"Operational excellence is the secret sauce of any of these businesses," said Javier Soltero, CTO of management products at SpringSource,supplier of the open source Hyperic Web application management system. "Operational excellence is a big part. I can't underscore it enough," added David Lipscomb, senior VP of engineering at NetSuite, a supplier of online business applications. With ready access to cloud services, business users will adjust to the notion of both scaling up and scaling back, when needed. Today the opposite is true. "When it takes six months to get a server cluster, you're never going to let it go," said Joseph Tobolski, director of cloud computing at Accenture.

One way to get the shift underway, said Michael Crandall, founder and CEO of RightScale, supplier of a cloud management platform, "is to ask, 'How can we begin to experiment with cloud computing?' You will learn best by doing."

"Start now," agreed Tobolski. "Try some things. There will be workloads that you can export to the cloud."