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IBM sheds light on cloud strategy

IT shops are dipping a toe into cloud computing more out of necessity than desire, according to Dr. Kristof Kloeckner, CTO and VP of cloud computing platforms at IBM, as tight budgets and inefficient IT process push them down this road. Kloeckner took some time to talk with on this topic. @63419

What does cloud computing mean at IBM?
Cloud computing doesn't just have technology aspects but profound business aspects. It's a new model for delivering and consuming IT more efficiently, in turn reducing CAPEX and OPEX by making use of economies of scale. IBM is offering all varieties of it including public and private clouds and hybrids of the two. It's a self-service approach to IT-based services. What's pushing this kind of delivery model for IT services?
There's a tremendous pressure on IT departments today to reduce cost, improve efficiency and standardize IT delivery. There's a shift away from building and owning IT assets to purchasing services as a way to reduce costs. Haven't we heard this story of outsourcing IT before?
Many of the technologies to enable cloud computing have finally matured. Virtualization allows the sharing of infrastructure to improve utilization rates; service automation and change management tools ensure IT processes take place in a standardized way; and non-differentiating business services like email, payroll, development and test are being standardized and outsourced. What products and services does IBM sell that enable cloud computing today?
We offer consulting services, in which we help large companies to develop and build private clouds against a checklist of best practices. Most of these are in financial services and retail today. We also offer infrastructure services including compute-on-demand, used for high-performance computing capacity mostly. Exa Corp, an engineering and design simulation provider in Europe is a customer of this service. We also have application services like Lotus Live [email services in the cloud], Tivoli backup services and then platform services like WebSphere Portal Server on the Amazon EC2 Web Service. What about DB2, Rational development tools, Cognos? Will these eventually be offered as cloud services?
It's not too much of a leap of imagination to assume so. We are working on multi-tenancy for DB2 databases and Jazz, the Rational tool for collaborative software delivery will go to the cloud. Any web-based tools and collaboration tools lend themselves to be hosted in the cloud. Offering analytical data services in the cloud is an attractive scenario too. Companies would bring their private reference data which we would provide more protection and security around than exists today and they could run their comparisons. Visualization services over the Internet of complex data correlations can also be done in the cloud. Where does cloud computing intersect with SOA?
[SOA is] a good way of preparing applications for delivery in the cloud. SOA has taught us a lot about how to structure services with a loose coupling of integration at the interfaces. It's important not to have the mode of service delivery influence the actual character and interface of the service. Also, without governance, you can't have SOA. You must align business with the organizational culture, control and security policies of the company. Cloud drives companies to accept standardization. Looking ahead, if a company has virtualized its infrastructure so that workloads are moved around dynamically to improve utilization and this company is also running SOA middleware that's moving workloads around to fulfill standardized IT services to the business; which layer in the IT stack is ultimately in control and making the decisions?
Certainly there's conflict if you do not integrate the layers. The marshaling of infrastructure should be left to those tools but they need to feed up to the IT services layer. The lack of data security in the cloud is a big problem. What is IBM doing about this?
We are working with the standards bodies on federated identity and trust management so that companies will be able to receive services from authenticated members and give access to them. If you could give one piece of advice to IT shops looking to get their feet wet with cloud computing, what would you say?
Look at your IT landscape; look at what is managed efficiently and what isn't and what isn't providing a strategic service to the business, then look at developing a transformation plan for these services to move to the cloud. Don't just look at reduction of cost; look at standardizing business processes and what new applications the cloud can offer.

Dr. Kristof Kloeckner, CTO, Enterprise Initiatives and Vice President Cloud Computing Platforms, is based in Armonk, New York. In this role, he defines and drives IBM's cloud technology strategy and integrates the cloud R&D activities across the company.

He was appointed to his present position in January, 2009 and was previously Vice President of Strategy and Technology for Software Group. Before that, he has held executive leadership positions in strategy, architecture and development in Germany, the UK and the USA, including Director of the Hursley Laboratory in the United Kingdom. He joined IBM in 1984 as a development engineer in the Boeblingen Development Laboratory in Germany.

Dr. Kloeckner received a Master's Degree and Ph.D. in Mathematics from Johann Wolfgang Goethe University at Frankfurt, Germany. He is a Fellow of the BCS and of the IEE and an honorary professor at the University of Stuttgart.

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