I've been at IBM Impact this week in Vegas. I typically don't attend vendor events, but I made an exception in this case since IBM holds a huge portion of SOA technology in its portfolio, and they are also moving aggressively into cloud computing. This is a huge event drawing more than 5,000 people, and they're all looking to figure out what IBM's next move is and whether their "traditional" IBM IT infrastructure will change, or not. Most are, of course, existing IBM technology owners or users.
A few things were clear from the event.
First, IBM has invested a huge amount of money in SOA technology, including numerous acquisitions, and it's looking to push those technologies into the enterprise.IBM is aggressively pushing back on the idea that "SOA is Dead," a notion that Burton Group put forward earlier this year. In reality, Burton Group was not really calling for the end of SOA, just an end to the belief that large, complex SOAs could be effective. My call is that SOA will grow at a more rapid pace, considering that there are few other approaches to make your enterprise architecture more effective and cost efficient.
Second, it's clear that IBM is banking on cloud computing, but not the public cloud computing that we've been talking so much about lately. IBM is focusing on the private cloud as a jumping off point to public clouds. Why? For one thing, they are not in the public cloud business as of yet. The best play for IBM in the emerging world of cloud computing is to drive changes in conventional data centers by creating private clouds.
Private clouds are really SOAs with virtualization added in. They use the sharing patterns of public cloud computing in that any number of users can share storage, processing, etc., within the data center as they do with public clouds. The virtualization software lets those private cloud users leverage any number of servers as a single virtual server and more effectively share computing resources using virtualization approaches and technology.
IBM considers private clouds strategic to its platforms. IBM has been doing virtualization and data center utilization for a long time; the movement to private clouds plays right into its hands. As such, they are announcing a new software appliance called IBM WebSphere CloudBurst Appliance. Or, "A secure appliance that provides speed and repeatability for deploying WebSphere environments into a private cloud."
I suspect IBM will be successful in driving change in the traditional data center. However, there is a lot of learning that enterprises must do before they'll consider cloud computing, private or public. For them, the larger challenge is to get their existing IT infrastructure in a more effective and efficient state, and that means reducing the number of servers in the data center, not adding to them. It's still about doing architecture, and not following the latest trends.It's clear that IBM is banking on cloud computing, but not the public cloud computing that we've been talking so much about lately. IBM is focusing on the private cloud as a jumping off point to public clouds.