IBM Launches Public Cloud Service
Extending upon the private cloud offerings launched last year, IBM is the latest major player to launch a commercial hosted service.
Like Microsoft's recently-released Azure services, the new IBM Cloud, released Tuesday, is targeted at developers and testers. However like Microsoft, Amazon and Google, IBM is clearly looking to extend its portfolio of products and services to the public cloud over time.
"You will see IBM continuing to release this set of work-based cloud computing environments," said Daniel Kloud, director of cloud computing in IBM's Rational business group.
"IBM has been talking a good cloud game for the last year or so," notes Forrester Research analyst James Staten in a blog posting. "But its public cloud efforts, outside of application hosting have been a bit of wait and see. Well, the company is clearly getting its act together in the public cloud space with today’s announcement."
While IBM does offer targeted hosted services such as Lotus Live, the company's new IBM Cloud service brings some key components of Big Blue's platform to the commercial cloud such as its WebSphere suite of application servers and its DB2 and Informix databases.
"What IBM is offering customers is not only the infrastructure to put development and test environments in place, but we also provide software images," Kloud said, in an interview.
A customer or partner is presented with a catalog of images or they can have IBM provision their own images, Kloud said. "Basically you can get your development and test teams up and running in a matter of minutes because they avoid basically acquiring the hardware and configuring the system and software," he said.
According to IBM, 50 percent of an organization's IT infrastructure is used for development and test, while 90 percent of it is idle at any given time.
"Certainly any IaaS [infrastructure as a service] can be used for test and development purposes so IBM isn’t breaking new ground here," notes Forrester's Staten. However he says IBM is launching a storing offering with support from test and development partners such as SOASTA, VMLogix, AppFirst and Trinity Software.
IBM's new commercial cloud service currently only supports hosting of Linux systems – the company did not disclose plans for offering Windows Server images other than to say it will be expanding on its stack.
The public IBM Cloud infrastructure is based on Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization (RHEV) stack based on the Kernel-Based Virtual Machine (KVM). Red Hat acquired the technology from Qumranet in 2008.
Red Hat called the choice of RHEV over virtualization technology from VMware a coup for its hypervisor stack. "It's a big milestone," said Scott Crenshaw, vice president and general manager of Red Hat's cloud business, in an interview. Crenshaw argued that the key advantage of its RHEV stack released in November is its support for multi-tenant data architectures. "It has a lot of advantages in areas like reliability, scalability and security," he said.
As part of its launch, IBM released Rational Software Delivery Services for Cloud Computing v1.0, which includes components of the company's Rational development and testing suite. IBM is not publishing pricing for its service.
Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.