IBM is now officially providing cloud computing infrastructure services and will wraps up the beta phase on June 30.
The IBM Cloud is essentially a self-service portal that allows subscribers to access virtual machines and configure storage operating systems, middleware and other software resources as needed. OS options include the IBM software catalog, Linux flavors Red Hat and Suse as well as Windows. Like other infrastructure providers, IBM Cloud also provides the ability to save customized images. The advantage of such a service is a way to reduce development and test cycle times on the one hand and to accelerate time-to-market for critical applications.
According to IBM, new testing environments can be set up in a matter of minutes. Using itself as a test bed, IBM said that the usage of cloud applications enabled the company to achieve up to 50% operational cost savings. That number, however, referred to a user base of greater than 100,000.
It is natural to compare IBM’s Cloud service to Amazon’s Web Services, but it is too eraly to draw a conclusion. As its instances are transient, an IBM “EBS” type persistent storage service doesn’t exist yet, so those who are used to the full service suite of tools that other cloud vendors have, they’re going to have to wait. In regard to the more technical details, Babak Hosseinzadeh wrote up a great analysis of the different layers involved in IBM’s cloud stack.
IBM’s service is really just out of beta now and its maturity for business critical applications is, of course, still in question. But the beta ran smoothly from what we could tell and the service is shaping up well. But IBM has a good shot at becoming one of the big players in the market and has a clear advantage over its arch rival HP at this time. Over time, I would not be too surprised if IBM became one of the top 3 cloud infrastructure providers in the U.S.
Market researchers have made no secret that cloud infrastructure services will flourish as the demand of cloud applications increases. IDC just released new market estimates that put the cloud IT services spending at $16 billion globally for 2009 and forecast that number to grow to $55.5 billion by 2014. That volume will represent about 12% of the size of traditional IT product spending, IDC predicts.