IBM Launches ‘SmartCloud’ Platform As A Service

IBM has unveiled its first platform-as-a-service (PaaS) offering, as part of a raft of new enterprise-grade cloud products, designed to increase the use of cloud as a platform for business. The company said its ‘SmartCloud’ will support around 200 million users by the end of 2012.

At a launch event in London, IBM said that customers are now ready to put mission-critical applications into the cloud. However, many are hesitating to extend their use of cloud due to concerns about security, reliability, standards and control.

IBM is therefore targeting both large businesses and SMEs with a new portfolio of private cloud offerings, which it claims will dramatically reduce the time needed to develop and deploy web-based applications. The update will also bring support for SAP middleware management platforms.

These products are designed for enterprise use from the ground up, incorporating key features such as security and cross-platform support.

Understanding your cloud model

“Building on the strong foundation and capabilities that we already had, we are using the business agility that cloud enables to get ahead of the game,” said Laura Colvine, IBM’s cloud strategy leader for the UK and Ireland. “We recognise it isn’t a case of ‘one-size fits-all’. That’s why we’re offering industry-specific solutions, based on the needs and capabilities of each organisation.”

As part of the SmartCloud offering, IBM is delivering ‘Starter Kits’, which provide the building blocks to create private clouds on virtualised IBM System x and Power Systems hardware. The kits provide simplified initialisation and administration for cloud environments on Power and x86 systems, as well as standardisation of virtual machines and improved operations productivity.

IBM is also unveiling new storage-as-a-service offerings from Nirvanix, which are capable of supporting “millions of users, billions of objects and exabytes of data,” to complement IBM’s existing virtual server environments in the cloud.

“We are helping to create local ecosystems, that also give the sense of being part of something global,” added John Easton, the IBM distinguished engineer who acts as CTO for its UK cloud group. “We want to help clients understand what their cloud business model should be.”

As well as its public cloud offerings, IBM hopes to see more mission-critical applications being hosted in public and hybrid cloud environments, as trust in the technology builds.

Cloud market boom?

The news comes as some analysts warn that the benefits of cloud computing are limited, and IT players should only use it in specific situations. According to Steve Brazier, CEO of Canalys, the vast majority of the IT markert is not using the cloud, and this will remain true for some time.

Despite this, analyst firm Ovum predicts that the worldwide market for public cloud services is set for a massive expansion over the next five years, with infrastructure and platform services particularly well placed to gain traction.

Ovum predicted the overall market would grow from £11.4 billion this year to £42 billion in 2016, as enterprise adoption grows. However, analyst Laurent Lachal warned that this could be a slow process.

“Although the market size will see strong growth, the evolution of cloud computing within enterprises, and the IT trends that follow, will happen more slowly,” he said.

Sophie Curtis

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