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Quan on the cloud, part 2: IBM Autonomics director sees a service-oriented phenomenon

In Part 2 of this interview with Dennis Quan, he discusses the relationship between cloud computing and SOA, new data centers supporting cloud, developing the next generation of cloud developers, and IBM's partnership with Google and the Android mobile platform.

What does cloud computing mean at IBM? In Part 2 of this interview with Dennis Quan, director of development in IBM's Autonomic Computing division, he discusses the relationship between Cloud computing and service-oriented architecture (SOA), new data centers supporting the Cloud, developing the next generation of Cloud developers, as well as IBM's partnership with Google and the Android mobile platform. Read part one.

What is the relationship between the Cloud and SOA?
Cloud computing is really a service-oriented phenomenon. Cloud computing is a paradigm by which various kinds of IT services can be offered to clients over the network. They all have these basic properties of elasticity, scalability and manageability. But the key thing is that all of this is being offered as a service either to external users as part of a service provider Cloud, or internal users in the case of an enterprise Cloud. With these scenarios [make it possible] 'to define services, manage the lifecycle of the service, provide users with the ability to sign-on to the service, and subscribe to the service. For example, a service could provide access to an application, or renting a couple of virtual machines to do development work. All of those services are going to require service lifecycle management, and capabilities that we're able to provide as part of the Cloud solution. So Cloud is at its heart an SOA phenomenon with the ability to offer IT resources at the base infrastructure level, application level, information services level, through an SOA mechanism. What is the IBM doing to advance commercial Cloud computing?
We have an initiative at IBM called Blue Cloud. It spans our software division, services division, research division, systems and technology divisions, which make servers and chips, to advance Cloud computing technologies and practices. It incorporates what we've learned working with Google on Cloud data centers, as well as our experience in distributed computing, and Grid computing. It also includes the hardware technologies, x86 platforms, Power Systems, ranging up to mainframe System z platforms. It also includes networking and storage as well as virtualization technology. Virtualization is a hot topic nowadays. It's especially important for Cloud computing because we find it to be a powerful way to manage large numbers of servers in a Cloud, and easily deploy applications, middleware and other capabilities for business. What is IBM doing with Google?
IBM partnered with Google to launch an academic initiative. We built three Cloud computing centers in the U.S. One is at a Google data center. One is at the University of Washington. One is at the IBM's Almaden Research Center in San Jose, California. Across the three sites are 1,100 servers that are providing Cloud computing facilities for six pilot universities that signed on with us last year. That number has now practically doubled. Why an academic initiative?
People in school today are taught to write applications for one or two machines at a time. On the Cloud you can have tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of machines potentially. But writing applications to harness the power of thousands of machines to do a task like detecting spam on wikipedia or to do some complex business analytics, was not being taught in schools, because they didn't have those resources. So through these data centers, Google and IBM provide universities with access to middleware from the Apache Hadoop project. Apache Hadoop allows students to write parallel processing applications, which we think are going to be key building blocks for Cloud computing. Where does Google's Android phone technology fit into the Cloud?
Google's Android project and other mobile initiatives are the driving force behind the development of cloud computing because they are really creating the kinds of scalability requirements that are needed for the next generation of data centers. As we have more and more of these smart devices out there it means more and more people are going to get access to their services and are going to be demanding higher levels of availability. One example is online banking. Today, you might only log on to your bank site when you're near your computer. That might be once or twice a day. When it's available over your mobile phone, your iPhone, your Android phone, your Blackberry, you might be looking to get your bank balance a lot more often. That's going to create increased strain on the networks and the application servers that are serving up these applications. We think that's intricately linked to mobile platforms and Cloud computing.

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