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IBM, Savvis Get Cloud Fever

Tech giant IBM and managed outsourcing specialist Savvis have provided a wide variety of computing and storage services for years under a number of different marketing terms -- managed, outsourced, utility, on-demand, XXX-as-a-service. Both vendors this week jumped on the enterprise cloud bandwagon with a wave of announcements, and they swear there is more to cloud services than just a new buzzword. Both cited an IDC prediction that cloud services will represent a $42 billion market by 2012.

IBM, at its Pulse event in Las Vegas, announced a batch of new software, services, partnerships, and customers as part of an Enterprise Cloud Computing Initiative. It included a demonstration of a global "overflow cloud" with Juniper Networks that links an internal private cloud to a secure public cloud in IBM's nine worldwide Cloud Labs. The idea is that customers can roll workloads from one cloud to another when more horsepower is needed to get jobs done. IBM also expanded the consulting services that help customers identify cloud opportunities and named several customers that were using some of its cloud services for better performance and improved backup and disaster recovery.

Savvis, meanwhile, introduced the first of what it said would be a series of value-added compute and storage services offered from the cloud. Its new virtual data center hosting and private cloud service lets customers buy slices of computing and storage capacity on a pay-as-you-go basis, and provides a portal to add or change requirements in minutes.

Cloud services provide real benefits to customers, says Brian Reagan, director of IBM Business Continuity and Resiliency Services, and the fact that IBM appointed a cloud czar who reports directly to the CEO shows that the company is this new technology trend seriously. "It is more than a marketing campaign," he says. "It is a significant initiative that cuts across every layer and part of the company."

IBM has been offering conventional disaster recovery services for nearly 20 years, but Reagan says that has historically been an "asset-based" service. "You generally had identical equipment in another location that was used to restore service if your main site went down. Cloud services are different. From a technology standpoint, you can have local backup in addition to a backup to the cloud and have near instant restoration," he says. He compares it to trend to tiers of storage. "It is like tiering recovery. For customers that want faster recovery time for their data, pulling it electronically back from the cloud is one way to enable that."

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