As Microsoft and Yahoo go their separate ways, IBM and Google are cozying up to move into what they think will be the dominant IT delivery model of the future--so-called cloud computing.
Over the next year, IBM and Google plan to roll out a worldwide network of servers from which consumers and businesses will tap everything from online soccer schedules to advanced engineering applications. The IBM-Google cloud, fresh off testing at several major universities, runs on Linux-based machines using Xen virtualization and Apache Hadoop, an open source implementation of the Google File System.
Google already has launched numerous cloud-based services for consumers, such as e-mail and storage. With the exception of security requirements, "there's not that much difference between the enterprise cloud and the consumer cloud," Google CEO Eric Schmidt said earlier this month during an appearance in Los Angeles with IBM chief Sam Palmisano. "The cloud has higher value in business. That's the secret to our collaboration."
A STUDY IN CONTRASTS
Palmisano and Schmidt insisted that their companies are similar, despite obvious differences. "We're boring, they're exciting. We're slow, they're fast. We're fat, they're skinny," Palmisano joked. But the contrasts are mostly skin deep, he said, noting that the companies share "a common technical alignment."
Palmisano: Picture the IBM-Google cloud as yay big
Photo by Dan Farber
Under a portion of its cloud strategy it's calling the Blue Business Platform, IBM plans to launch an online marketplace offering its own pre-integrated products and services, as well as those from other software developers. Customers will be able to use the software they buy "on premises or in the cloud," Palmisano said.
Their partnership is solidifying just when Microsoft's efforts to acquire Yahoo have broken down. Microsoft's approach to the cloud trend is to move some of its applications to the Internet under a strategy it calls software plus services. But the bulk of its profits still come from products either sold in boxes or preinstalled on PCs. Microsoft's enormous user base gives the company time and space to get its Internet efforts right. But, for the first time in years, Redmond is seeing clouds on the horizon--and they look a lot like Google and IBM.