IBM Introduces Commercial Cloud Services and Solutions

IBM introduced its new Smart Business cloud portfolio, described as the industry's first set of commercial cloud computing services and integrated products for the enterprise. According to the company, these solutions offer clients a reliable way to standardize IT functions that are rapidly becoming too costly or difficult to use

Charles King

June 18, 2009

4 Min Read
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IBM introduced its new Smart Business cloud portfolio, described as the industry's first set of commercial cloud computing services and integrated products for the enterprise. According to the company, these solutions offer clients a reliable way to standardize IT functions that are rapidly becoming too costly or difficult to use. According to IBM, the Smart Business cloud offerings derived from nearly two years of research and hundreds of engagements with IBM clients. In order to turn complex business processes into simple services, IBM Smart Business brings sophisticated automation and self-service technologies to specific tasks, including software development and testing, virtual desktop and device management and collaboration.

The Smart Business portfolio offers three "on-ramps" to cloud computing: 1) standardized services run on the IBM Cloud, 2) private (behind the firewall) services built by IBM and managed by the company or the client, and 3) new workload-optimized IBM CloudBurst systems. All offerings include IBM's service management system, which automates selfservice, provisioning and monitoring, and manages cloud access and security. IBM also announced two Smart Business offerings for:

  • Software development and testing - IBM estimates that moving development and test processes to the cloud can help reduce IT labor costs by 50 percent, lower provision cycle times from weeks to minutes and eliminate up to 30 percent of software defects.

  • Virtual business desktops - The benefits of cloud-enabled virtual desktops include using up to 73 percent less power than traditional desktops and laptops, enhanced end-user experience and more efficient management.


IBM's Smart Business private cloud services for development/test and for virtual desktops are available today. Pre-integrated IBM CloudBurst systems will begin shipping on June 19, 2009. The company anticipates that more Smart Business solutions will be announced later in 2009.

The Pitch

Commercial cloud solutions begin coalescing courtesy of IBM Smart Business. Mission Accomplished?

There is no shortage of visionary initiatives in IT, and the increasing focus on cloud computing during the past year or so has shown the industry working hard strategically and rhetorically to define next-generation computing and datacenter technologies. But complex solutions and services such as those underlying cloud tend not to arrive fully formed. Instead, they and their myriad benefits come to market piecemeal as vendors and customers find common practical ground.

Some might quibble with IBM's claim that its new cloud-based Smart Business offerings constitute the industry's "first" set of commercial cloud computing services and integrated products. In fact, numerous vendors, including Dell, EMC, HP, Sun, VMware and IBM itself offer various server, storage and software products that are designed or can be adapted for cloud computing. But most of those solutions take a broader, infrastructure-wide view of and approach to the cloud.By comparison, IBM's initial Smart Business offerings aim to leverage cloud developments to alleviate specific, thorny problems the company's enterprise clientele find immediately or increasingly painful. For example, the Smart Business solution for development and testing highlights the critical role that internal software development plays in delivering ongoing business value and competitive advantage by tackling the complexities and costs businesses face in providing and managing development/test infrastructures.

The Smart Business solution for virtual business desktops stretches cloud computing in a slightly different direction - positioning these highly flexible technologies as a foundation for supplanting pricey, hard-to-manage traditional PCs and laptops. In both cases (and, we assume, in future Smart Business solutions), IBM will leverage various developments in virtualization, grid and clustering, as well as the increasingly robust server, storage and networking technologies underlying cloud infrastructures.

Smart Business provides the company an effective platform for punctuating the "right tool/ right place" value proposition of its broader Purpose Built hardware strategy. We also find it notable that IBM's new workload-optimized Smart Business systems continue to fill out the CloudBurst product line the company launched in April (with a WebSphere-specific cloud computing appliance). Most importantly, the Smart Business initiative reflects a continuing, underlying strategy that defines IBM business solutions in emerging areas, including grid and high performance computing (HPC).

In those earlier situations, the company worked with customers and partners to identify and define commercially viable markets for what until recently had been niche technologies. By taking a carefully targeted approach to solution development, IBM has been able to nurture opportunities in economically sustainable ways that provide continuing value to its customers. Overall, we consider the company following a similar strategy with Smart Business and CloudBurst solutions to be good news for IBM customers and a lesson worth considering for businesses and vendors contemplating the future of cloud computing.

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