Monday, July 6, 2009

Smarter Cloud::: Workstations used to be tied to a mainframe. Now they're conversing with a cloud.

In previous installments of this ongoing conversation, we have talked about the need for information technology itself to become smarter. Despite enormous advances in computing power, the world's IT infrastructure—already under severe stress from today's computing tasks—could easily become overwhelmed by the onrushing complexity and unprecedented data generated by nearly a trillion instrumented and interconnected devices, objects, processes and people.

Fortunately, help is at hand. It comes in the form of a new model called "cloud computing," in which processing, storage, networking and applications are accessed as services over networks—public, via the Internet; or private, via intranets. It makes possible a new level of system intelligence—also known as "services management"—with the potential to secure, authenticate, customize and just plain keep up with the coming wave of data complexity and volume.

Importantly, just as the clouds above us are differentiated—cirrus, stratus, cumulus—the smart clouds of a smarter planet will develop around particular tasks. They will be optimized for workloads as diverse as software development and virtual desktops, as smarter traffic management and smarter retail.

Some will enable entire business and civic ecosystems to function more smoothly. For instance, consider the city of Wuxi in southeastern China, which developed a "cloud services factory" to provide computing resources to local companies. Software developers can access new resources in minutes, and new businesses can hit the ground running. Wuxi now has the potential to provide services to hundreds of small and medium-sized companies, which represent the future of a city that sees itself as an engine for growth.

Some clouds will extend the capabilities of a smarter planet to communities with limited resources. Thanks to a private education cloud, the 12-year-old computers of the Pike County Schools System in eastern Kentucky now behave more like 2009 models.

That has enabled the county to cut 62% of its schools' end-user support costs, while providing equal access to education content across 27 schools. Most importantly, Pike's 10,000 students can now access new courseware instantly—something that used to take more than a year.

And some clouds will help provide more secure and stable public services when it matters most. Following Hurricane Ike in 2008, Houston was plagued by downed trees and power lines—but the nonprofit human services agency Neighborhood Centers Inc., with its system data backed up in a cloud, didn't suffer a single business disruption at any of its 20 facilities. Following the storm, the agency was back in business, providing support to families in need.

Around the world, IBM is working with banks, telecommunications providers, retail firms, governments and universities to use clouds to optimize for specific economic and societal goals, and to infuse their technology systems with IBM's unique depth of expertise. All because smarter clouds are now gathering on the horizon.

Let's build a smarter planet.

http://www.ibm.com/ibm/ideasfromibm/us/smartplanet/topics/virtualserver/20090618/smart_clouds.pdf

Conserve energy. Consolidate resources. Make information secure and available whenever and wherever it's needed. With mandates like these, we have be smarter about accessing, processing and storing data.The benefits of cloud computing—accessing your data and applications stored on remote hardware by way of the Internet instead of keeping it all in your local workstation—still requires a leap of logic for many. But now that a workstation can go anywhere as a smartphone, a stripped-down netbook, or even an e-book reader, it's practically a virtual desktop operating in conjunction with a virtual server anyway. If the user can be anywhere, so can the source for data and applications.

The cloud equation adds in the flexibility to scale bandwidth up or down at will and the affordability of pay-as-you-go service, and subtracts energy-devouring hardware from your local environment. Factor in the IBM security and experience that go into each of its industry-leading global cloud computing centers and myriad enterprise private clouds. The result: an instrumented, interconnected, intelligent approach to smarter computing.

It all comes together in the IBM Smart Business cloud portfolio, which introduces the industry's first set of enterprise-directed cloud services and integrated products. It brings sophisticated automation technology and self-service to tasks as diverse as software development and testing, desktop and device management, and collaboration. Offerings include:

  • IBM Smart Business standardized and private cloud services for secure, scalable software development and testing
  • IBM Smart Business Desktop deployment options for virtual desktops
  • IBM CloudBurst server with integrated storage, virtualization, networking and built-in service management systems
  • Clients, employees and partners talk about why they chose IBM to implement a virtual server cloud computing model for their organizations.
  • South African financial institution Nedbank is automating business processes through cloud technology. "IBM cloud technology has proved to us that we can shorten [business process automation environment deployment] provisioning time significantly, reduce our cost and also increase the agility with which we can respond to business demands," said Nicholas Parry, Nedbank.

    With IBM Smart Business Virtual Desktop, Pike County School District in Eastern Kentucky has reduced end-user support costs more than 62 percent while providing equal access to education content across 27 schools and just over 2,000 desktops. The introduction of new courseware—what used to take more than a year—can now be implemented instantly across all schools.

    "Cloud computing increases our flexibility in providing IT resources to meet the growing demands of our global business," said Mr. Peng Jin Song, General Manager, Information Technology at Sinochem. "With IBM CloudBurst and the technical expertise from IBM Cloud Labs in China, we will be able to pool and maximize our resources to run our global business on the most efficient infrastructure possible."

This means thinking beyond the desktop and outside our own data centers. Thinking about more intelligent ways to handle the 15 petabytes of new information we generate each day, and the massive increase of connected devices we use to work with that data. Optimized for the remarkably diverse workloads managed by businesses, organizations and governments.It's time for a platform designed for efficient, effective computing in wide open spaces...in other words, everywhere. It's time to think cloud.


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