IBM Releases More Cloud Computing Tech

At its analyst conference, IBM announced three more additions to its Project Blue Cloud

It took a little while for IBM to define its corporate approach to cloud computing during the last few years, but now that it has one, the world’s largest IT company is going all out in the sector.

On 6 Oct at its Information Infrastructure Analyst Summit in Boston, the company introduced three more additions to its Project Blue Cloud bag of goodies: a new software infrastructure specifically aimed at the building of private cloud systems, an online information archive and — you’ve guessed it — a slew of new consulting services to go with both.

“This is really the next instance in the continuing drumbeat of IBM delivering enterprise-ready cloud services,” IBM Cloud CTO Kristof Kloeckner told eWEEK. “We’re putting a great deal of corporate time and effort into this.”

Cloud computing, or utility computing, serves up computing power, data storage or applications from one data center location over a grid to thousands or millions of users on a subscription basis. This general kind of cloud—examples include the services provided online by Amazon EC2, Google Apps and—is known as a public cloud, because any business or individual can subscribe.

Last June, IBM launched three cloud models: IBM Smart Business Test Cloud, a private cloud behind the client’s firewall, with hardware, software and services supplied by IBM; Smart Business Development & Test and Smart Business Application Development & Test, which use Rational Software Delivery Services on IBM’s existing global cloud system; and IBM CloudBurst, a preintegrated set of hardware, storage, virtualisation and networking options, with a built-in service management system.

The underpinnings of these are Tivoli Provisioning Manager 7.1 and the new Tivoli Service Automation Manager, which automates the deployment and management of computing clouds. The same foundations will power the new packages.

“The intent of this private storage cloud offering is to serve customers efficiently with their active, file-based data — the term would be near-line storage, meaning it’s not direct-attached storage, but not remote archival storage, either,” Kloeckner said. “The scenarios would include any information-rich enterprise that needs frequently accessed data in a file format.”

Everybody is seeing increasing amounts of data being created in collaborative environments, made by creative processes and devices, Kloeckner said. IBM believes that an automated cloud computing approach to handle this overflow of information is one that makes sense for a good many enterprises.

“We see this as one element of making information pay off for the enterprise, so to speak,” Kloeckner said. “Digital media, medical imaging, Web content, analytics, geospacial data, engineering modeling data, are just some of the use cases. We all know that the interconnection of devices creates a huge amount of data that needs to be managed efficiently, accessed, stored and secured in order to be analysed.

This is all designed for file-based storage — it is not block-based or individual record-based storage, or what is contained in a database, Kloeckner said.

Right now, the private cloud software is available in a beta release only. It should be available for full production in a few weeks, Kloeckner said.

IBM is in the process of preparing a public cloud offering, but Kloeckner did not want to speculate on when that might be available for beta testing.

Tivoli and IBM System Storage are the foundations for the new Information Archive, which uses hard disks and tape machines within a single pool. It features deduplication and compression techniques to optimise storage capacity, Kloeckner said.

“When using the archive, a user can designate whether he or she wants to store the files on disk or on tape, and the tape can be stored wherever they want,” Kloeckner said.

The hardware-and-software archive uses Big Blue’s General Parallel File System, Tivoli Storage Manager and IBM’s Enhanced Tamper Protection in an IBM array of the user’s choice.

The IBM Information Archive is the first offering announced as part of IBM’s unified archiving strategy, called IBM Smart Archive. The archive, available now as a preview, offers long-term storage for any kind of digital file, such as e-mail, images, databases, applications, instant messages, account records, contracts or insurance claim documents, logs, and others.

The archive can be organized into separate collections within a single system, and each collection can be configured with different retention policies and protection levels to meet specific needs — including business, legal, or regulatory, Kloeckner said.

Finally, IBM’s enhanced Cloud Consulting Services are available now to support the new software and hardware packages.

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