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October 13, 2008

This ‘Stateless’ Computing Seems Familiar …

Derrick Harris

You might have seen the news on Thursday that Merrill Lynch is using IBM’s iDataPlex servers as part of its “stateless computing” strategy. But these stripped-down-yet-optimized boxes are part of IBM’s cloud computing initiative … so what gives?

If you’ve read my two-part look at the parallels between grid computing and cloud computing (Pt. I and Pt. II, if you’re interested), you’ve seen that allow cloud computing is far from the only term out there to describe, well, what used to be called utility computing. Even most vendors aren’t delving into the cloud pool (get it … ”cloud,” “pool”) as wholeheartedly as IBM, perhaps because they can’t afford to have it lose favor, casting a shadow over their entire business. Whatever the reason, this is just further proof that we can’t get hung up on names. I’ll continue to call it cloud computing, for the most part, but the reality is I could be talking about a variety of other concepts, as well.

Merrill Lynch’s stateless computing plan is actually pretty cool, and is about a lot more than dynamic resources. It’s really about making the entire IT component of the company — and the entire company, really — more efficient. I got a chance to see Jeff Birnbaum’s presentation on it at the Next Generation Data Center conference, and I’m hoping to get some information straight from the horse’s mouth some time soon.

Speaking of IBM, I dinged the company earlier in the week about its insistence on putting the cloud label on absolutely everything, including what appears to be plain, old SaaS, and judging from some of the feedback I received, I’m not alone in this stance. But that’s not to say SaaS doesn’t have its place in this publication — there are many aspects of it, including the delivery infrastructure, that are very relevant to the on-demand ecosystem. In fact, we’ve actually got a piece coming up that takes a deeper look at IBM’s new SaaS (er, cloud) offerings.

I also spoke with Callidus recently about its move to an SaaS delivery model, and I think its story could resonate with what a lot of software vendors and users are feeling right now. You can look forward to hearing what they have to say about the process next week, right here in this blog.