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IBM SmartCloud Lets Organizations Scale Up IT Resources

Cloud formations are building around IBM with recent announcements the company has made in the area of cloud services and products. At a Cloud Forum event in San Francisco, IBM formally introduced an enterprise cloud platform named SmartCloud that allows a customer to buy access to computing requirements such as servers and storage, delegate access and permissions for those resources, configure security, and get help from IBM and other users.

The new platform is being tested out by corporate customers and includes a spectrum of secure managed services to enable organizations to run varying levels of workloads in both private and public clouds. The services are delivered from IBM's network of data centers around the world.

The IBM SmartCloud is available in two flavors. The Enterprise version, open for business now, is intended for IT organizations that want to expand on internal development and testing capacity for the design of new applications. Both Linux and Windows operating systems are offered. Management is self-service (with a premium support option), and the pricing is primarily hourly. Software licensing is handled under bring-your-own, pay-as-you-go, and free-developer-usage models. Guaranteed availability is 99.5 percent.

The Enterprise+ version, available later this year, adds new features on top of Enterprise, including the ability to manage virtual server, storage, network, and security components. It will support AIX as well as Linux and Windows and is fully managed. Guaranteed uptime is 99.9 percent. IBM will provide the operating system and tool licenses. Pricing is monthly, based on usage or fixed contract. IBM said this edition will be "ideal" for migration of traditional and higher availability applications.

The company provides a tool online to help organizations estimate the cost of running their operations on SmartCloud. The tool guides the user through designating the software images for the various machines to be used; the size of the machines and how long they'll be run; and the reserved capacity required for storage, network access and support and other aspects of the operation.

"The new IBM SmartCloud allows for the best of both worlds--the cost savings and scalability of a shared cloud environment plus the security, enterprise capabilities and support services of a private environment," said Erich Clementi, senior vice president of IBM's Global Technology Services. "In thousands of cloud engagements, we have discovered that enterprise client wants a choice of cloud deployment models that meet the requirements of their workloads and the demands of their business."

Later this year the company is also introducing the IBM SAP Managed Application Services on the SmartCloud to automate the most common labor-intensive tasks associated with managing SAP enterprise resource environments. The services catalog for that offering includes provisioning of SAP environments, SAP cloning, refreshes, and patching.

According to the company, measurable benefits from using managed SAP through the IBM service will reduce the installation, for example, of DB2 and Oracle from a day to 12 minutes; the cloning of a database from two or three days to 20 minutes; the addition of another application server from a day to 10 minutes; and an SAP system refresh from a potential duration of four days down to three minutes.

SmartCloud will also support deployments of Lotus Domino applications via a new Domino Utility Server for LotusLive. LotusLive delivers email, social business, and third-party applications from the cloud. The new server licensing model extends customer deployment options for Domino applications from on-premises to cloud.

IBM has also announced the IBM Workload Deployer, new software tool that allows users to provision the components, such as middleware and applications, they need to run workloads in a cloud environment. The Workload Deployer provides a graphical user interface to help IT administrators install applications, configure databases, and set up security for the cloud services they use or deliver to their users. It works by template to automate and standardize cloud operations, which in turn is expected to reduce the effort required for cloud deployments.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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