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IBM Talks Up Private-Public Cloud Migration

IBM Cloud computing
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Following more than a year of moves in cloud computing, IBM is taking further steps to embrace the trend, fleshing out its overall strategy and filling in several pieces of its own offerings with capabilities it sees helping enterprises get more from the cloud.

In a press conference here at the company's San Jose laboratory, IBM (NYSE: IBM) and partner Juniper Networks showed off a means of migrating workloads over the cloud -- bridging enterprises' private clouds with the public Internet.

IBM today also announced the expansion of its Blue Cloud initiative through new products, services and partnerships. Blue Cloud, launched in November 2007, is a combination of hardware and software created using open standards and open source, supported by IBM virtualization and data management software. It is based on lessons learned from IBM's joint academic cluster computing initiative with Google (NASDAQ: GOOG), which was unveiled in September of that year.

Overseeing it all will be IBM's new Enterprise Initiative Group, tasked with accelerating adoption of the cloud and reporting directly to IBM (NYSE: IBM) chairman and CEO Sam Palmisano. The unit will be headed by Erich Clementi as general manager.

The moves represent the latest signal by major enterprise vendors of the importance of cloud computing -- and the potential windfall to be had by hopping on the trends. Recent months have seen HP, Intel and Yahoo team up in a research project to study the software, hardware and datacenter management issues surrounding cloud computing. Oracle has been working with Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) and Amazon -- one of the early big-names to explore cloud computing -- for its own cloud-based efforts. Most recently, Sun joined that list, announcing but providing few details around its own cloud computing initiatives.

As a result, IBM's not the first major enterprise vendor to explore ways to merge the public and private clouds. Intel and Oracle, for instance, in September unveiled plans to work on security and flexibility for migration between private and public clouds, and on industry standards for this migration.

IBM aims to position itself in the lead on migrating cloud tasks, however. Here at its San Jose lab, Big Blue demonstrated how it migrates workloads using Juniper's (NASDAQ: JNPR) technology, and talked up some of its benefits.

Private and public clouds

Such efforts aim to help enterprises that need more server compute power when their workloads increase suddenly, giving them the ability to migrate lower-priority workloads over the cloud to remote servers.

IBM and Juniper's approach uses virtual private LAN Service (VLPS) over Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) , a highly scalable data transport infrastructure that lets users create end-to-end circuits across any type of transport medium, using any protocol. Juniper unveiled its end of the technology late last year.

Lower-priority applications will be migrated to the public clouds because their service-level agreements are flexible enough to accept a slowdown due to network latency, Raghu Subramaniam, head of strategy and planning for service layer technologies at Juniper, said during the press conference.

The launch also bears out a view long held by IBM regarding how enterprises clouds can leverage external cloud infrastructure. In October, the company launched an initiative offering up a mix of on-premises and cloud applications to help its ISVs and partners offer those services to their customers on a subscription basis. These services are focused around collaboration and include a free open beta for Bluehouse, a social networking and collaboration cloud service designed to connect people from different businesses.

"We see a hybrid of private and public clouds," Jayashree Subrahmonia, director of IBM Cloud Lab, said during today's event.

Locking down the cloud

Security in the cloud is one of the issues some believe are holding back enterprise IT from trusting cloud services. A phishing attack that tricked a Salesforce.com (NYSE: CRM) employee into revealing a customer contact list, leading to targeted phishing attacks against the company's customers did not help matters. And security vendor AppRiver has warned that hackers may begin targeting the cloud.

Dennis Quan, director of development, autonomic computing with IBM Software Group, said at the press conference that IBM Rational AppScan 7.8 -- released last week -- will help companies ensure the Web services they publish into the cloud are secure, compliant and meet their business policies.

Quan also announced IBM Rational AppScan OnDemand, which will continuously monitor applications. "Secure cloud services are absolutely essential for our clients," he said.

Storage and services in the cloud

IBM also seized the opportunity today to unveil new Software-as-a-Service and cloud-based apps and services. Chief among those is Tivoli Storage as a Service, delivered through IBM's Business Continuity and Resiliency Services cloud. Starting later this year, clients will be able to use Tivoli data protection technologies in the cloud and pay only for how much they consume.

This is yet another move by IBM to offer hosted services in the cloud -- in October, it launched a hosted version of its Lotus Notes enterprise messaging offering.

Big Blue also announced its the Service Management Center for Cloud Computing, which provides a platform on which clients can build and deliver cloud services. The offering is based on Tivoli Provisioning Manager 7.1 and the new Tivoli Service Automation Manager.

IBM also further extended its highly profitable services group into the cloud, announcing its Infrastructure Strategy and Planning for Cloud Computing. This is a strategy workshop that brings together its business and technical teams to help leverage clients' existing infrastructure.