IBM floats vision of the cloud's future

Summary:The head of IBM's cloud-computing strategy talks about why the company wanted to develop the technology, and where he plans to take it

Over the past couple of years, IBM has expanded its cloud-computing facilities, spending hundreds of millions of dollars on creating datacentres to do the work and cloud centres to handle clients. As part of this, IBM set up its first cloud-computing centre in Europe, in an existing company campus in Ireland, a year ago.

ZDNet UK spoke to the new head of IBM's cloud strategy, Willy Chui, while visiting the centre, which is based on an industrial estate just outside Dublin. The site has eight virtually identical buildings, which house the company's headquarters in Ireland as well as the main datacentre that powers IBM's cloud services in the region.

Chui talked about his plans for the Cloud Computing Centre, which acts as a hub for research and services for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. He also talked about how IBM is approaching cloud computing, which IDC has predicted will be a £29.5bn market within three years.

Q: Is cloud computing gaining acceptance everywhere?
A: We are seeing the cloud paradigm much more in the emerging markets like China and India — they don't have the legacy infrastructure. The mature markets are starting to pick up now, as well. A lot of the major financial institutions and the telcos are looking at cloud because they want more efficient operations.

What made you decide to build the cloud centre in Ireland?
Minister Martin [Michael Martin, Ireland's minister for enterprise, trade and employment at the time IBM decided to invest in the country] came to kick it off when he was minister of trade. We really had very strong support from the Industrial Development Agency to create a common cloud centre, and use it as an innovation area, and to stimulate collaboration between the universities and businesses. From day one, we have worked on collaborative projects.

What sort of projects?
For example, one of the companies involved is a subsidiary of Capgemini. They wanted a way to link 20,000 IT consultants around the world. They wanted to share more of their information, IP, knowledge and best practices, and so on. Instead of creating a system within their own confines, which would have taken them six months or more, they instead hosted a system and introduced collaboration.

In the space of a few days, they generated over 5,000 ideas [from participants] in this project. They found that 60 percent of their employees participated, and they counted that as a success.

Internally, in IBM, we have our own cloud system that we call the Technology Adoption Program. We used it in [developing] the Lotus Sametime program, for example. We used a sandbox to work it through, and then, in trials throughout IBM, different employees would use it. This could cut down development time, shorten the time to market and improve the quality of what we deliver.

How many cloud computing centres do you have?
Nine cloud centres around the world — we call them 'Cloud Labs'. Then we have six customer centres. [Two of the cloud centres] are in Silicon Valley and Dublin. Then we have [one in] South Africa, which we created last June.

And last month, we created a customer centre in Qatar for the oil and gas businesses and for the universities, so they can create a collaborative environment. The government is behind the whole thing there. It's created a lot of buzz around the Middle East. But that is a customer centre that they pay for, and that we created for them.

Then we have Bangalore. [Plus] Vietnam, which is a hot spot for technical development — in Hanoi, we have a customer centre...

Topics: Tech Industry


Colin has been a computer journalist for some 30 years having started in the business the same year that the IBM PC was launched, although the first piece he wrote was about computer audit. He was at one time editor of Computing magazine in London and prior to that held a number of editing jobs, including time spent at the late DEC Compu... Full Bio

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