IBM launches platform-as-a-service effort, beefs up cloud focus

Big Blue said it has ported SAP, enterprise resource planning applications and all databases to its cloud platform.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

IBM on Wednesday put its platform-as-a-service strategy into motion with the launch of a series of SmartCloud software and services designed to court enterprise customers.

Big Blue said it has ported SAP, enterprise resource planning applications and all databases to its platform, a private cloud offering. In addition, IBM's enterprise cloud effort is open to software vendors, resellers and other partners. Early customers for IBM's cloud platform are Kaiser, ING, Citi and Lockheed Martin.

Enterprise vendors such as IBM, HP and Oracle are looking to expand their cloud footprint. Oracle outlined its cloud strategy last week and HP is expected to build on its plan outlined earlier this year. Overall, enterprise vendors are looking to position their cloud efforts as more secure and manageable than emerging players such as Amazon Web Services. The efforts from large enterprise players vary from relatively mature at IBM to private betas at HP to just announced at Oracle. Dell has also built out its software-as-a-service portfolio via acquisition and plans to offer cloud services.

For IBM's part, the company said it plans to support about 200 million users by the end of 2012. The company over the last three years has been putting cloud building blocks in place. IBM expanded its cloud portfolio in April and has continued to tweak.

Among the key parts of IBM's SmartCloud:

  • A PaaS effort that will be aimed at traditional IT environments.
  • Application services designed for mission critical enterprise software. IBM's SmartCloud Application Services will offer enterprise security, Java and cross-platform support without lock-in. These application services will be designed to manage lifecycles, allocate resources, deploy and manage cloud environments. For instance, IBM has added an SAP environment to enable faster database installation, maintenance of libraries and refresh systems.
  • Software to better deploy and control cloud architecture inside corporate firewalls. IBM SmartCloud Foundation features prepackaged private cloud software, provisioning engines and monitoring software.
  • Services for partners and software developers to move to the cloud, build on IBM's infrastructure and manage transactions. SugarCRM will provide its applications on IBM's cloud. IBM also partnered with Nirvanix to offer storage as a service to customers.

IBM maintains that it's still early in the cloud game with 33 percent of enterprises deploying pilots. By 2015, 40 percent of enterprises expect cloud computing to bring substantial change.

The upshot is that many of your friendly neighborhood system providers plan to be an option as customers move away from procuring their own servers and managing data centers.

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