While there wasn't anything ground-breaking about IBM's Blue Cloud announcement in Shanghai last Friday it was still significant.
Blue Cloud is basically an IBM bundle of software and services to enable corporate customers to access distributed computing resources across the globe.
The idea is that business customers will be able to use this distributed fabric of resources to execute massive processing tasks online, instead of relying on local machines or remote server farms.
Blue Cloud products will be based on open standards and open source software, but "supported by IBM software, systems technology and services."
The first product releases are scheduled for Spring of 2008, and will support IBM's Power and x86 processors.
Something old, something new, and bragging rights for Big Blue
The concept of "cloud computing" itself isn't new and has been pioneered by Amazon.com that offers a bunch of services in this area.
A couple of Amazon offerings in this space are:
- Amazon EC2 (Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud) that allows developers to use Web service interfaces to requisition machines for use, load them with custom applications, manage network access permissions, and more.
- Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) that enables storage in the cloud.
IBM's offering, some commentators say, has one significant difference from similar services offered by Amazon and others. Instead of the service provider leasing out its own data center and billing customers based on a pay-as-you-go model, Blue Cloud enables "cloud computing" systems to be set up within customer data centers,
Such an approach would certainly benefit IBM as it would boost the market for its products -- hardware, software and services -- to manage the system. For instance, in 2008, Big Blue will be offering versions of its servers, including mainframes, designed for cloud computing.
According to some reports, initial IBM products to be sold around initial Blue Cloud implementations will include Power- and x86-based BladeCenter servers loaded with Linux-based virtual machines, along with Apache Web servers, IBM middleware and DB2 components, and IBM Tivoli management tools.
How much such a model would benefit customers remains to be seen.