Special Coverage Series

Network Computing

Special Coverage Series


IBM Spends $1.2 Billion On New Cloud Datacenters

Company builds on cloud strategy with 15 new data centers designed to help customers meet compliance requirements and improve application reliability.

IBM plans to invest $1.2 billion in the coming year to build out its network of cloud datacenters in an effort to put computing resources closer to customers.

IBM has been rolling out an aggressive cloud strategy the past couple of years, and it spent $2 billion last summer to acquire cloud infrastructure provider SoftLayer -- a commitment this newest investment clearly targets.

IBM said last week that it would add 15 new datacenters to its cloud arsenal by the end of 2014, bringing to 40 the total number of datacenters it will have to support customers' cloud environments. The company wants to spread its geographic footprint, and much of the planned expansion will focus on adding data centers in international markets, including Hong Kong, London, Mexico City, and Sydney. The new data centers will primarily provide Infrastructure-as-a-Service, enabling IBM to extract maximum value from the SoftLayer deal.

Dennis Quan, IBM's VP of cloud infrastructure services, said during a phone interview that the move is intended to do two things: Help customers better contend with regulatory compliance requirements by enabling them to keep data within the countries they operate in, and ensure that their apps are more reliable.

"By placing data centers in more countries around the world, we're much more able to meet these needs and enable our customers to keep data in country," Quan said.

On the first front, having more data centers geographically closer to clients would allow those companies to satisfy local regulations requiring that personal data be retained within a country's borders. But it also will give them more options for storing data outside of the U.S., and thus away from the prying eyes of the National Security Agency -- an important consideration ever since contractor Edward Snowden leaked documents detailing the NSA's far-reaching surveillance tactics.

[Read how IBM is focused on software-defined storage and the importance of storage integration with networking, virtualization, big data, and the cloud in "IBM Emphasizes Integrated Storage."]

And even though IBM is distancing itself from that topic, the two goals -- giving customers more flexibility in where they store their data, and shielding them from unwelcome snooping -- are intertwined.

"The concerns about data locality are real," Eric Hanselman, chief analyst at 451 Research, said via email. "The NSA revelations aren’t causing a sudden dash for the exits. The reality of what it takes to get into and out of a datacenter is that it just can’t happen that quickly. But it is a major concern that is shaping decisions that are being made today."

Major enough that a recent survey by co-location provider Peer 1 found that one in four companies in the UK and Canada is moving data out of the U.S. to dodge the NSA's surveillance efforts. In such an environment, having cloud data centers in as many international locations as possible clearly is an advantage.

"Geographic diversity was a nice feature pre-Snowden," Hanselman said. "Now it’s mandatory."

That said, IBM is focused on the business benefits of its pending data center investment, not the security implications. IBM promises to deliver app reliability by routing traffic between its cloud data centers via its own private network.

Quan said the private network enables clients to avoid bottlenecks and other sources of latency, but he also acknowledged that having traffic moving between data centers over public networks "exposes those data transmissions to any of the issues that might affect the public Internet."



Related Reading


More Insights



Network Computing encourages readers to engage in spirited, healthy debate, including taking us to task. However, Network Computing moderates all comments posted to our site, and reserves the right to modify or remove any content that it determines to be derogatory, offensive, inflammatory, vulgar, irrelevant/off-topic, racist or obvious marketing/SPAM. Network Computing further reserves the right to disable the profile of any commenter participating in said activities.

 
Disqus Tips To upload an avatar photo, first complete your Disqus profile. | Please read our commenting policy.
 

Editor's Choice

Research: 2014 State of Server Technology

Research: 2014 State of Server Technology

Buying power and influence are rapidly shifting to service providers. Where does that leave enterprise IT? Not at the cutting edge, thatís for sure: Only 19% are increasing both the number and capability of servers, budgets are level or down for 60% and just 12% are using new micro technology.
Get full survey results now! »

Vendor Turf Wars

Vendor Turf Wars

The enterprise tech market used to be an orderly place, where vendors had clearly defined markets. No more. Driven both by increasing complexity and Wall Street demands for growth, big vendors are duking it out for primacy -- and refusing to work together for IT's benefit. Must we now pick a side, or is neutrality an option?
Get the Digital Issue »

WEBCAST: Software Defined Networking (SDN) First Steps

WEBCAST: Software Defined Networking (SDN) First Steps


Software defined networking encompasses several emerging technologies that bring programmable interfaces to data center networks and promise to make networks more observable and automated, as well as better suited to the specific needs of large virtualized data centers. Attend this webcast to learn the overall concept of SDN and its benefits, describe the different conceptual approaches to SDN, and examine the various technologies, both proprietary and open source, that are emerging.
Register Today »

Related Content

From Our Sponsor

How Data Center Infrastructure Management Software Improves Planning and Cuts Operational Cost

How Data Center Infrastructure Management Software Improves Planning and Cuts Operational Cost

Business executives are challenging their IT staffs to convert data centers from cost centers into producers of business value. Data centers can make a significant impact to the bottom line by enabling the business to respond more quickly to market demands. This paper demonstrates, through a series of examples, how data center infrastructure management software tools can simplify operational processes, cut costs, and speed up information delivery.

Impact of Hot and Cold Aisle Containment on Data Center Temperature and Efficiency

Impact of Hot and Cold Aisle Containment on Data Center Temperature and Efficiency

Both hot-air and cold-air containment can improve the predictability and efficiency of traditional data center cooling systems. While both approaches minimize the mixing of hot and cold air, there are practical differences in implementation and operation that have significant consequences on work environment conditions, PUE, and economizer mode hours. The choice of hot-aisle containment over cold-aisle containment can save 43% in annual cooling system energy cost, corresponding to a 15% reduction in annualized PUE. This paper examines both methodologies and highlights the reasons why hot-aisle containment emerges as the preferred best practice for new data centers.

Monitoring Physical Threats in the Data Center

Monitoring Physical Threats in the Data Center

Traditional methodologies for monitoring the data center environment are no longer sufficient. With technologies such as blade servers driving up cooling demands and regulations such as Sarbanes-Oxley driving up data security requirements, the physical environment in the data center must be watched more closely. While well understood protocols exist for monitoring physical devices such as UPS systems, computer room air conditioners, and fire suppression systems, there is a class of distributed monitoring points that is often ignored. This paper describes this class of threats, suggests approaches to deploying monitoring devices, and provides best practices in leveraging the collected data to reduce downtime.

Cooling Strategies for Ultra-High Density Racks and Blade Servers

Cooling Strategies for Ultra-High Density Racks and Blade Servers

Rack power of 10 kW per rack or more can result from the deployment of high density information technology equipment such as blade servers. This creates difficult cooling challenges in a data center environment where the industry average rack power consumption is under 2 kW. Five strategies for deploying ultra-high power racks are described, covering practical solutions for both new and existing data centers.

Power and Cooling Capacity Management for Data Centers

Power and Cooling Capacity Management for Data Centers

High density IT equipment stresses the power density capability of modern data centers. Installation and unmanaged proliferation of this equipment can lead to unexpected problems with power and cooling infrastructure including overheating, overloads, and loss of redundancy. The ability to measure and predict power and cooling capability at the rack enclosure level is required to ensure predictable performance and optimize use of the physical infrastructure resource. This paper describes the principles for achieving power and cooling capacity management.