About six months ago, I accused IBM of “cloud-washing” its solutions and services when it launched its Project Blue Cloud marketing campaign. Its aim with this effort was to lure customer conversations about cloud computing in its direction so it could learn what enterprises wanted from this new technology. IBM has had some legitimate cloud deployments and proofs of concept since then, but just this week announced the first product fruits of that labor.
Under the banner of IBM Smart Business Services the company announced a hosted Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offering that can be accessed multitenant, like a public cloud and CloudBurst, an IaaS in a box based on BladeCenter. All the elements of an IaaS implementation – the self-service portal, automated workload deployment and distribution, virtualization software, servers, networking, and storage are pre-packaged and tested and can be implemented in a single effort. While some degree of customization is inevitable, you can’t get up and running with an IBM internal cloud much easier than this. By the way, HP has a similar offering called Blade System Matrix.
What’s missing from these solutions today, however, is the capability that justifies IBM’s name for the product – the ability to extend this internal cloud to a hosted or public cloud resource when needed; a technique known as cloud bursting. Few enterprises can justify an internal cloud composed of thousands of servers, so when your developers need that kind of capacity, the best answer is to bridge the internal cloud to a public or hosted cloud offering. IBM will initially provide bursting to its own cloud service but plans to extend this capability to its service provider partners.
Forrester thinks enterprise interest in solutions that cloud burst is a safe assumption but a bit ahead of its time, as most enterprises aren’t yet in a position to easily leverage these cloud options. This is why IBM’s strategy of focusing on internal cloud first is a smart one.