IBM's Play In Cloud Computing? Listening Carefully

James IBM's PR engine has been ratcheting up the volume about its efforts in cloud computing lately and if you are like me, I found their press releases confusing, so I got them on the phone to try and get past the hype to better understand what they are really doing in this space. Turns out they have turned on a powerful listening and learning engine.

IBM’s BlueCloud initiative isn't (at least not initially) an attempt to become a cloud services provider or to become a cloud computing platform, but rather to help their customers experiment with, try out, and custom design cloud solutions to fit their needs. Building off the IBM Innovation Center concept, IBM is providing Cloud centers that are places customers from enterprise and government accounts, as well as non-IBM customers can test out cloud computing concepts, mostly for deployment internal to their own data centers. Gerrit Huizenga, the technical solutions architect for BlueCloud for IBM's Systems & Technology Group (STG) said these efforts are helping them build out a series of cloud blueprints, or proven/standardized cloud infrastructures. "Our goal is to deliver solutions that make it much easier to deploy and manage these things," Huizenga said.

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Cloud Maturity Is Accelerating: More Than Just Reaction To The Hype?

James Over the past few months a flurry of announcements have begun swirling around the cloud computing space, which remains a nascent market in the overall IT realm. Do these announcements portend a fast maturity for the concept or just the typical "me too" that comes with a hyped market?

In June, RightScale, a cloud management software and consulting company that has become a bit of a poster child as a cloud integrator, announced a partnership with GigaSpaces that integrates their eXtreme Application Platform (XAP) clustering and cache solution with the RightScale automated cloud management platform for Amazon EC2 clients. The value of this partnership comes from the fact that EC2 simply provides you with a VM you can populate but no availability or scalability services. XAP is a cluster architecture that delivers these values and can be quickly and easily deployed via the RightScale tool.

Next came Elastra, a San Francisco startup building a Cloud Server, a middleware layer that turns a commodity infrastructure into a cloud (similar value to what 3Tera provides today). The first iteration deploys similarly to XAP -- as a software layer you load into EC2 VMs, that enables scale and availability to the apps you lay on top of it.

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Is Your ISP Jumping On The 100 Gigabit Ethernet Bandwagon?

We've established that 10 GbE is now ready for the enterprise, which means it is time to start worrying about whether your Internet service provider (ISP) is adopting 100 gigabit Ethernet (100 GbE). ISPs aggregate enterprise traffic and connect you to the Internet over high speed optical networks that must ensure the adequate bandwidth and quality of service (QoS) you require.

While the majority of customers won’t fill their 10 GbE pipes this year or next, many will; advanced applications such as high definition video streaming, video conferencing, data replication, and wide area clustering for business continuity will tax bandwidth. Moreover, corporate networks will take advantage of the better bandwidth of 10 GbE to shift to IP-based Unified Communications (UC.) Forrester Research found that 36% of enterprises in North America and Europe have deployed or are rolling out UC this year with another 36% evaluating it. All these high-bandwidth services require strong QoS to meet enterprise needs and drive adoption.

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IBM Gets Into The Data Center-In-A-Box Business -- Better Late Than Never!

James_2IBM announced Wednesday
that like Sun and Rackable before them, they will now be offering a Portable
Modular Data Center (PMDC) similar to Verari’s FOREST,
Sun’s
Blackbox, and Rackable’s ICE Cube and Concentro.
IBM also rolled out their
new Enterprise
Modular Data Center (EMDC) and Modular High Density Zone (MHDZ).
 

This data center-in-a-box is portable, stackable, and can be
deployed in as little at 12 to 14 weeks, says IBM. It supports an open architecture and
equipment from non-IBM vendors. IBM states that if you need to expand your data
center fast, but don’t have the space, the PMDC is worth considering.

Huh? A data center in the trailer of an 18-wheeler? What do
you do, park it outside next to your data center? How does this make sense? And
for whom?

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Help Set Energy Star Standards?

James_2Everyone wants to make their data centers more efficient and
gain recognition for their efforts but we’re lacking the benchmarks to shoot
for. Well, here’s your chance to help change that. On March 20th the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) kicked off a data collection process to help create Energy
Star™ ratings for data centers. Energy Star, the best known energy efficiency
identifier, is respected as a mark of credibility for products and services
that deliver superior energy efficiency. While mainly a consumer mark, the EPA
recently published a draft standard for servers ,
its first serious foray into providing enterprise product and service guidance.
While extending Energy Star to your corporate data center, consumed only by
your own company, may not have customer impact, it has corporate brand value that
matters to the C-level executives. It will also have differentiating value when
choosing outsourced service providers.

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Dell-Egenera Partnership Shores Up Both Companies in Virtualization Market

James_2Yesterday’s
announcement
of a partnership between Dell and Egenera has
done something unique in the business development world -- increased the
credibility of both players who were lagging in overall market presence in a
key technology area -- server virtualization.

Egenera, a
smaller server vendor, popular in financial services, public sector and service
providers, was the first to bring Unix-class virtualization capabilities to x86
systems but did so only within its unique blade server frame design. As such,
Egenera simply hasn’t been able to make much headway in the general enterprise
market. A 2005 hardware OEM partnership with Fujitsu-Siemens was a step in the
right direction but one only felt in Europe.

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Is Scale Up the New Scale Out?

James_2A shift is
taking place in the server market that is starting to look very much like a
throw back to simpler times. As enterprises gain comfort with x86 server
virtualization, they are starting to push for higher and higher consolidation
ratios, which are driving a return to scale up server purchases. Where a
single-socket server with 8GBs of RAM was the most popular choice a few years
back when scaling out was all the rage, we are starting to see beefier
configurations become the norm to accommodate server
consolidation.

A Forrester survey from just last year showed that while adoption of x86 virtualization was ramping
quickly among enterprise infrastructure & operations (I&O) leaders, the
ratios of servers consolidated were low, averaging 4:1. But this may have been
as much a byproduct of the new technology comfort curve as it was server buying
patterns.

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Categories:

Are Fabrics Web 3.0?

James

An interesting development is happening in the hosting market that is a blend of
technology innovation and business model proliferation. It has been well established in the Internet services market that the delivery of free services, or “freeconomics” is a viable model so long as either advertisers pay to participate or that the 1% of the customers paying for premium services generate enough income to fund the free version for the remaining 99%. This shift has started hollowing out the classified advertising, encyclopedia and newspaper markets. E-mail, storage and collaboration hosting markets are also feeling the pinch.

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How Big Is Your FRU?

The Sun Modular Datacenter S20 is the world's first virtualized datacenter built into a shipping container and optimized to deliver extreme energy, space, and performance efficiencies.

Earlier this week, Sun Microsystems announced that its Project Blackbox was now a commercially shipping product. I have to confess that when they first told me about this effort I saw it as a nice showcase innovation — something they could use to demonstrate how densely racks could be configured and how energy efficient their products were. They could drive it from city to city for in-person demonstrations. Nice marketing idea. But I didn’t see the practicality to real enterprise data centers. Who’d be willing to buy a container and park it outside their data center? Yeah, that’s secure.

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HP And IBM’s Blade Rivalry A Boon For IT Consolidation

James HP and IBM are tossing barbs at each other in the blade server space this week with dueling management tools that greatly simplify administration, whichever platform you choose. On Monday, HP announced the latest iteration of its Virtual Connect technology and today, IBM finally unveiled its competitive offering, Open Fabric Manager (although IBM’s won’t start shipping until Dec. 21). Both tools let administrators pre-assign network and storage configuration settings that fail-over and migrate with the server and virtual server images running on those blades. They both also, in these latest iterations, let you manage these profiles across multiple blade chassis (up to 100 chassis).

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