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Cloudbursts: IBM, AT&T Unveil Offerings

Remember the old Prudential Insurance ads that encouraged customers to "get a piece of the rock"? (Yes, we just spent about 20 minutes watching old '70s commercials. It's all in a day's work.) Well, the cloud is the new rock, and everybody wants a piece of it.

No stranger to the cloud, IBM enhanced its hosted offerings this week with the introduction of Smart Analytics Cloud, a business intelligence-heavy play that features technology acquired by Big Blue from former BI vendor Cognos.

Armonk (hey, we're always calling Microsoft "Redmond," right?) is setting up Smart Analytics Cloud as being available either in a pure hosted model or as an on-premises "private" cloud with hardware housed inside a company's walls and software distributed to users as a service. Not unlike...well, a mainframe, in some ways.

We're not surprised, of course, that IBM is upping its cloud ante. But this cloud stuff isn't just for traditional technology vendors. Amazon is a major player, and now AT&T, one of the most venerable names in American business (not unlike IBM, of course, except that AT&T isn't really a tech vendor per se) is expanding its cloud products.

Despite battling a cloud-services outage this week, AT&T is touting its relationships with VMware and Sun and moving from cloud-storage offerings to cloud computing; its new product carries the catchy name Synaptic Compute as a Service (SCaaS, we suppose). SCaaS uses Sun hardware and virtualization software from the market giant, VMware.

For Microsoft partners, as if this wasn't obvious enough already, the beefing up of one company's cloud offering (IBM) and the serious entry of another (AT&T) into the game shows that the cloud is going to be a battleground (battle-air?) the likes of which Redmond has not encountered before. This race is wide open, and the old Microsoft pitch of Windows ubiquity and everything working better together won't hold much water (air?) in the cloud.

Redmond, of course, is all over this stuff these days, although it's still working out (and not without controversy) how it's going to share the cloud wealth with partners. Still, though, Azure is no sure thing -- not with everybody trying to get a piece of the cloud.

Who's your choice for the front-runner in cloud computing? What do you think of Microsoft's strategy? Sound off at lpender@rcpmag.com.

Posted by Lee Pender on 11/16/2009 at 1:22 PM


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