Inside IBM's only European Cloud Centre

Inside IBM's only European Cloud Centre

Summary: A visit inside IBM's cloud-computing facility in Dublin, where the lack of hardware belies the efforts to experiment with crunching data in the cloud


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  • IBM has set up its first cloud centre in Europe, and it is in Ireland, just outside Dublin.

    It is part of a network of cloud centres which IBM is building around the world. These cloud centres are made up of a hub, surrounded by facilities. IBM has said it will build these in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

    However, IBM does not plan to build all the cloud centres from scratch. It will mix new buildings in with adapted existing IBM facilities, as is the case with Dublin.

    Shown here is the entrance to the cloud centre, which ZDNet UK visited last week. The location is IBM's Irish headquarters, which covers the full span of the company's businesses, from Tivoli to the z Series mainframe server. There are eight buildings on the large IBM campus.

  • When you walk in, you come across two server racks and a sign to tell you that this is an IBM Cloud Centre.

    Whereas a conventional large datacentre is dominated by hardware, and lots of it, that isn't true of a Cloud Centre, which spreads its processing across many different systems in many different places — in the "cloud".

    According to IBM, the Irish Cloud Centre is open for use by organisations of all types, including commercial and academic ones. The work undertaken at the centre could be a research project into a particular area of computer science or meterology, for example. It could also range from advanced pure research to more routine research, IBM said.

  • The IBM Ireland campus is used to having many visitors, and the manager of the facility said that the traffic had begun to increase thanks to the cloud business.

    The reason the Irish facility was chosen by IBM for a Cloud Centre was partly down to the presence of the University of Dublin (home of Trinity College) and partly because of stiff lobbying by Michael Martin, Ireland's former Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment, according to the worldwide head of IBM's cloud effort, Willy Chui.

    "Ireland has a very good educational structure," Chui told ZDNet UK, "and the minister here was important in that choice." He said there was "good support" from the Irish Development Authority.

    IBM's campus in Dublin has eight large buildings, and it turned part of one of them over to cloud computing to create its Cloud Centre. The centre is host to people from all over Europe, according to Kristof Kloeckner, vice-president of cloud computing at IBM and the man who was until recently, head of IBM's cloud business.

    "We are exploring with customers to find and develop new ideas," he told ZDNet UK. "A particular area we are exploring is service management, for example."

    Kloeckner believes that cloud computing's biggest differentiators are its scalability and its ability to provide "delivery as a service", where customers turn their tasks over to IBM for work in the Cloud Centre, and "self-service", where customers perform their own tasks. These are areas that IBM teams are actively exploring, he said.

    The IBM cloud infrastructure around the world is composed of nine Cloud Centres and six Customer Centres, the latter available for customers to run their own cloud applications, he said.

Topic: Cloud


Colin Barker is based in London and is Senior Reporter for ZDNet. He has been writing about the IT business for some 30-plus years. He still enjoys it.

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