IBM’s SmartCloud: Swiss Army Knife of Cloud Transition, Apps

In theory, the more enterprise functions ported to the cloud, the less time fiddling around with on-premises infrastructure.

IBM is expanding the capabilities of its SmartCloud Services platform, seeking to burgeon further into the enterprise-cloud market.

SmartCloud Enterprise 2.1 offers Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IAAS) for building and distributing applications for a variety of environments; IBM claims this IAAS is “simple to deploy.” It also features Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.8 and Red Hat Linux 6.2, with supposed improvements to virtualization, resource management and other areas. Other tweaks include upgrades to the embedded KVM hypervisors, for extra security.

IBM is also moving its Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) from the beta to the pilot stage, allowing customers to use SmartCloud Application Services for free (use of the underlying IBM SmartCloud Enterprise infrastructure will still cost something, apparently). The SmartCloud Application Services pilot will run until the platform’s general availability, projected for sometime in the third quarter of this year.

As part of the pilot, IBM customers will have access to both Application Workload Service and Collaborative Lifestyle Management Service to deploy applications atop SmartCloud Enterprise.

IBM’s SmartCloud Enterprise+ offers support for Windows, Linux or AIX systems (either x86 or P-Series OS) running via VMWare or PowerVM hypervisors, along with migration services for moving to the cloud.

IBM is clearly presenting itself as the Swiss Army Knife of the enterprise cloud, complete with a bevy of shiny tools for transitioning companies to that environment. In doing so, it offers a significant threat to other enterprise vendors such as SAP and Oracle, which are busy selling their own solutions to the cloud.

Nor is this IBM’s only recent move with regard to the cloud. In April, IBM unveiled its PureSystems family, which includes the PureFlex infrastructure system (designed to lower datacenter-infrastructure operating expenses) and the PureApplication platform system (for applications that sit atop that PureFlex infrastructure).

The PureSystems architecture allows clients to dynamically scale resources, in addition to supporting virtualization, multi-tenancy, and automated provisioning. For companies needing to run their cloud-infrastructure plumbing with a minimum of issues, such prepackaged expertise could potentially come in handy.

IBM has been announcing new products for the enterprise at an aggressive pace. In April, the IT giant acquired privately-held analytics firm Vivisimo, a move it described as furthering its efforts “to automate the flow of data into business analytics applications, helping clients better understand consumer behavior, manage customer churn and network performance.”

Charles King, principal analyst of Pund-IT, saw that acquisition as a way for IBM to add more data-processing muscle to its other enterprise tools. A few days later, IBM announced the acquisition of Tealeaf Technology, a business-intelligence firm specializing in consumer data, for an undisclosed sum.

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