IBM Launches Services to Push 'New Paradigm' of Clouds

Big Blue will offer business and technology consulting services to businesses and validate cloud infrastructures for service providers

November 25, 2008

4 Min Read
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IBM thinks that much of the current information infrastructure is "maxed out." So the company today launched a set of consulting services to educate businesses on the benefits of cloud computing and help them design and deploy the technology through the use of private and public clouds. It also announced plans to launch a service to validate the resilience of cloud computing infrastructures, providing the equivalent of a "Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval" for service providers and private in-house clouds.

"The information infrastructures we have sitting inside of our data centers are maxed out. They were designed with a certain model in mind," Brian Reagan, director of strategy and portfolio management in the Business Continuity and Resiliency division of IBM, tells Byte and Switch. "They were not designed to handle the meteoric growth in computing and storage that we are seeing year after year. We need to bring new models to bear to keep up with that."

Specifically, IBM introduced business consulting services for cloud computing, technology consulting, design and implementation services, and a validation service to test the resilience of cloud infrastructures. The first two are aimed mainly at businesses, while the third is expected to be used mainly by service providers.

Calling cloud services a "new paradigm," Reagan says a growing number of IBM's clients have been asking how to take full advantage of it, how to deal with issues of availability and security, and how to get started. "The cloud represents a very important evolution of storage and computing, and we are in the best position to bring it to the enterprise," he claims.

He says IBM's business consultants will help clients develop and define a strategy for making use of cloud services, while the technology consultants will help them design, deploy, and, in some cases, manage the infrastructure. "We're going to offer the full value chain of business-oriented services that will lead to technology services that really deliver value."IBM already provides some of these services. Neighborhood Centers, a non-profit, human-services agency in Houston that helps more than 200,000 people with citizenship, immigration, economic development, early childhood development, and other services, uses IBM cloud services to back up server and PC data from a variety of locations and store it securely in an offsite location.

"IBM cloud services were critical in our community recovery efforts following Hurricane Ike. Since we experienced no business interruptions in any of our 20 facilities, we were able to focus on bringing the community, our services, and our citizens back online," Tom Comella, the organization's chief information officer, said in a statement. "But the benefits of cloud services reach far beyond disaster recovery. Better data protection -- demonstrating that we are good stewards of information -- has become a selling point for us in winning contracts."

IBM also says Allscripts, which provides software and services to doctors and other healthcare providers, is the first service provider to begin the validation process. Allscripts hopes that by gaining IBM's seal of approval it will be able to use that to expand its operations. "By partnering with IBM, we're able to deliver an enterprise-class data recovery service through the cloud, to even the smallest clinical practices," the company notes. "We look forward to continued work with IBM on the Resilient Cloud Proven program."

Resiliency can be a vague term to some. For IBM, it is an umbrella term that covers issues like the availability of data and applications and infrastructure; data protection for operations and for disaster recovery, security, continuity of operations; and the privacy, security, and availability of data as it moves within a business process or from one to another.

IBM doesn't yet have a formal logo or seal to go with the program, although Reagan says that might come later. He also feels enterprise IT departments may want to participate in the program just to demonstrate to senior management and the rest of their company that they are adhering to the highest standards."Based on our years of experience, we don't think there is one answer or solution that fits all companies. It depends on the risk companies are willing to tolerate and the price they are willing to pay. There is not one standard against which all will be measured. And everything does not necessarily belong in a cloud. We want to help clients sort through where to put their data."

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