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IBM puts platforms on SmartCloud

IBM has upgraded its SmartCloud service with a platform-as-a-service cloud that integrates SAP support and and has added to its private cloud management capabilities
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Written by Jack Clark on

IBM has integrated a rentable platform for Java applications into its SmartCloud stable, following Oracle, Microsoft, Red Hat, VMware and Google into platform-as-a-service clouds.

IBM SmartCloud Enterprise 2.0, announced on Wednesday, upgrades SmartCloud with a new platform-as-a-service (PaaS) capability, SAP integration and the addition of new features for managing IBM private clouds.

IBM's SmartCloud now consists of private, hybrid and public cloud products along with the just-announced PaaS and software-as-a-service (SaaS) offerings.

"Our direction is up through [PaaS and] SaaS and into business information as a service," Laura Colvine, IBM UK's Cloud Strategy Leader, told ZDNet UK. "What we're focusing on is a differentiated cloud service catalogue."

The PaaS component, SmartCloud Application Services (SCAS), will support Java applications and ones that use APIs for IBM products such as WebSphere, Colvine said.

Like other PaaS clouds offered by Microsoft with Azure, Google with Google App Engine, VMware with Cloud Foundry, Red Hat with OpenShift and Oracle with the Oracle Public Cloud, SCAS automates the set-up, configuration and management of applications, middleware and application tools.

IBM's announcement is similar to the Oracle Public Cloud, introduced last week: both clouds integrate support for their vendor's respective software suites and both are aimed at existing enterprise customers. However, "this is not a me-too play", Colvine said.

What we're focusing on is a differentiated cloud service catalogue.
– Laura Colvine, IBM UK Cloud Strategy Leader

"I think the key differentiator is that our public cloud offering is a real existing offer in a number of geographies around the world today," John Eaton, an IBM Distinguished Engineer, told ZDNet UK. By contrast, Oracle's cloud is US-only at launch. "Yes we offer a cloud service, yes Oracle offers a cloud service. There are other players out there, this is not a one-size fits-all, there are rooms for lots of other cloud leaders in that spot."

IBM's cloud is supported by datacentres in Canada and the US, and, for the European region, its cloud datacentre in Ehningen, Germany.

While IBM did not announce a specific UK cloud datacentre, Eaton said it had a number of UK customers using its cloud services from the German datacentre to comply with European data-protection laws.

SCAS became available in beta on Wednesday and should become generally available by early 2012. IBM hopes to have 200 million users on it and other IBM cloud services by 2012.

Simple SAP

SmartCloud 2.0 comes with tools for automating common tasks involved in running SAP software, such as installing and cloning databases and adding new application servers.

Though Oracle's cloud does not integrate this closely with SAP, it has a similar level of automation and management for Oracle's Fusion suite of applications.

IBM plans to add support for Oracle software to its cloud over time, Colvine said, and is eyeing up the PeopleSoft and Siebel software suites for its cloud.

SmartCloud Foundation

IBM has also announced a new software suite for creating, automating and managing IBM-powered private clouds.

SmartCloud Foundation has three components: IBM SmartCloud Entry, which forms the building block of an IBM private cloud; IBM SmartCloud Provisioning, which automates the installation and management of virtual machines; and IBM SmartCloud Monitoring, which dynamically adjusts cloud workloads according to capacity.

"The direction of travel is moving towards business outcomes," Colvine said, adding that IBM is "moving faster and faster away from commodity services".


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