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IBM unveils 'cloud computing' initiative

IBM unveils 'cloud computing' initiative

IBM is dubbing its initiative "Blue Cloud"

IBM is bundling several of its technologies to help corporate data centers run large-scale Web applications in a "cloud computing" model that's similar to the way major Internet players like Google operate.

IBM is dubbing its initiative "Blue Cloud" and says it will enable "computing across a distributed, globally accessible fabric of resources, rather than on local machines or remote server farms."

Blue Cloud follows a Google-IBM collaboration announced last month that provides universities a curriculum and support for software development on large-scale, distributed computing systems. IBM and Google made three data centers available to those universities, although corporations that take advantage of Blue Cloud offerings will use their own Web servers

"If you're going to run a large-scale Internet application, you're going to need a large number of Web servers to handle requests that come in from mobile devices and laptops," says Dennis Quan, IBM's CTO for high-performance, on-demand solutions. "Cloud computing is designed to support both the Internet-facing Web tier that needs to scale out to millions of users, as well as the back-end data-processing tasks you sometimes associate with a grid."

The first Blue Cloud offering will be available in spring 2008. IBM has not announced the price.

Blue Cloud offerings will run on IBM BladeCenters with Power and x86 processors, and facilitate the provisioning and allocation of resources as workloads fluctuate, IBM says. One Blue Cloud offering planned for 2008 will support the System z mainframe. Blue Cloud itself consists of Xen and PowerVM virtualized Linux operating-system images and Hadoop parallel workload scheduling, all supported by IBM Tivoli server-management software.

The goal is to help customers manage tens of thousands of machines in the most efficient way, because many large data-center operators are running out of space and energy, Quan says.

The government of Vietnam is collaborating with IBM on a pilot cloud-computing program to make science and technology resources available to universities and research institutions "through the cloud infrastructure at IBM's Almaden Research Center," IBM said. Commercial uses of Blue Cloud will enable the heavy data requests that are part of targeted advertising, video, social-networking and other Web 2.0 technologies.

"Blue Cloud will help our customers quickly establish a cloud computing environment to test and prototype Web 2.0 applications within their enterprise environment," stated Rod Adkins, IBM's senior vice president for development and manufacturing, in a press release. "Over time, this approach could help IT managers dramatically reduce the complexities and costs of managing scale-out infrastructures whose demands fluctuate."

IBM says its Blue Cloud approach builds on decades of experience with massive-scale computing, including Blue Gene supercomputing; Deep Blue, the computer that defeated chess master Garry Kasparov; and grid computing.

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