I wrote last week about some of the analyst presentations at Gartner’s annual Data Center Conference, but Gartner’s sages weren’t the only ones talking.
One very interesting talk began with IBM’s Willy Chiu, vice president of High Performance on Demand Solutions, and concluded with Robert Rosier, founder and CEO of IBM Blue Cloud customer iTricity. Elaborating on IBM’s extensive cloud computing initiative, Chiu said the company sees cloud as a combination of grid computing, utility computing and software as a service, among other components. The end product, he says, should:
- Provide a simple user interface.
- Support automatic provisioning.
- Provide capacity on demand.
- Serve as the platform for a next-generation datacenter.
- Offer development in the cloud, for the cloud.
Chiu also presented a high-level cloud computing reference architecture (from the bottom up):
- Request-driven provisioning and service management.
- Virtualization (servers, storage, networks, etc.)
- Physical layer.
Among the IBM customers he highlighted were Sogeti, the Government of Vietnam, VNTT, iTricity, SOFTEX Association, and the City of Wuxi, China. The latter two are using Blue Cloud as the basis for regional software development initiatives. Wuxi has built a software-development industrial park that actually houses an IBM Cloud Computing Center, and SOFTEX is leveraging IBM’s Sao Paulo, Brazil, center.
A few other key points Chiu made are the following:
Of IBM’s cloud computing customers, 55 percent are interested in infrastructure as a service, compared to 27 percent for software as a service and 18 percent for platform as a service.
Pressure will continue to mount for interoperability of public clouds, so it is in providers’ best interests to be proactive in making this happen.
IBM likely will add to its roster of Cloud Computing Centers in 2009 with a Middle East outpost.
IBM is taking cloud computing seriously (if you didn’t already know that). The company has named Rich Lechner vice president of cloud computing strategy, a senior-level position that oversees cloud efforts across departments (including Chiu’s HiPODS division).
iTricity’s Rosier followed Chiu and introduced the audience to his company’s Dutch hosting company. The provider has seven datacenters across the Netherlands and Germany (with more on the way), all of which use Blue Cloud software across a percentage of machines. Presently, 10 percent of its servers are provisioned for cloud computing services and the remaining 90 percent handle dedicated hosting, but Rosier says iTricity is seeing cloud demand outstrip dedicated demand by 2x.
iTricity serves an enterprise-class customer base of ISVs, ASP providers, systems integrators and end-users. The only customer Rosier named — and an impressive one at that — is PriceWaterhouseCoopers. Compared to consumer customers, Rosier says enterprises require cloud solutions that are compliant to whatever level the customer requires. Compared to dedicated hosting customers, Rosier says cloud customers are (no surprise here) more concerned with speed, elasticity, on-demand provisioning, etc.
Aside from straight cloud hosting, iTricity also will install on-site “cloud satellites,” and can connect legacy infrastructures to the iTricity cloud via “cloud bridges.” The company is working on “cloud virtualization” offerings that include a cloud hypervisor and a cloud trading platform, which will enable customers to trade excess capacity.
Impressive to me is the slick IBM user interface through which iTricity customers can reallocate resources within their individual capacity pools. Another highlight is that iTricity offers several billing models based on customer needs and service type — credit card, subscription, by-the-hour and per-usage.
Yes, it’s local to the Netherlands, and, yes, it’s a relatively small provider, but iTricity exemplifies all that the cloud can be. It offers a variety of delivery models, a variety of billing options, and it focuses on its own core competencies by leveraging someone else’s cloud management expertise.
Now, you just need to move the Netherlands and take advantage of it. (Although I’m sure there are comparable providers wherever you call home.)