IBM's new cloud services push targets the enterprise

Two initial offerings focus on software development and testing and virtual desktop management

IBM on Monday rolled out a new cloud computing strategy aimed at large enterprises, formed around the notion of tying cloud services to specific IT tasks.

Two initial services announced Monday focus on application development and testing and virtual desktop management.

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Customers will be offered three varieties of development-related cloud services. One is the IBM Smart Business Test Cloud, which is a behind-the-firewall cloud built by IBM on a client's infrastructure.

IBM is also previewing Smart Business Development & Test, which employs its Rational application development software and will run on IBM's public cloud.

In addition, Big Blue is offering dev-and-test capabilities through its IBM Cloudburst appliances, which combine hardware, storage, networking, virtualization and service management capabilities.

The overall idea is to drive efficiencies into the development and testing process, since great amounts of corporate IT infrastructure is dedicated to such tasks but often sits idle, according to IBM. Instead, development teams could use self-service clouds to spin up the resources they need on demand.

Meanwhile, IBM will also offer virtual desktop services on private clouds and its own.

Down the road, depending on market reaction, IBM could release services for specific enterprise applications, said Kristof Kloeckner, CTO of cloud computing.

IBM's goals are fairly obvious, one industry observer said.

"As far as the enterprise is concerned, cloud [computing] is the new VMware, and IBM wants a fat slice this time," said Redmonk analyst James Governor via e-mail.

IBM's decision to release a service for software testing first makes sense, Governor said.

"Dedicated test and development servers are a real drain on enterprise computing resources, and IBM is telling customers it can reduce the expense," he said. "Those with long memories will know that IBM has put forward similar propositions before, but there is nothing new in IT, and reimplementation can be a step forward."

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.