Wednesday, 7 October 2009

A big blue cloud is developing

(By Philip Carnelley – Wednesday 7th October 2009 7:00am). Hot on the heels of yesterday’s announcement of a cloud-based email system – like Google Mail but targeted specifically at businesses – IBM has announced a Cloud-based storage solution, together with IBM Consulting Services for Cloud – helping businesses to ‘leverage the power of cloud computing’. Interestingly the service offerings are aimed at Cloud providers as well as users. IBM’s announcements are part of a series; in June it announced a cloud-based applications test and development service, and more services are destined to follow. IBM is looking at fairly fine-grained use cases – such as backup and recovery, warehousing and analytics, unified communications and network capacity – and picking off the ones it thinks it’ll have most success with. Storage-as-a-service came near top of the list.

We think that the majority of IBM’s cloud email users will be those already using Lotus Notes, who wish to offload the burden of support – the Lotus Live iNotes offering, as it is called, will appeal primarily, perhaps exclusively, to those who already use Lotus Notes. The selling point of ‘enterprise level service and support’ may not be enough to persuade others away from using Google Mail or hosted Exchange. The Storage offering is in a different category. As we commented in yesterday’s posting when discussing iomart’s Cloudsure (see Salesforce links with Cisco to offer Cloud-based Call Centres), SLAs (service level agreements) are going to be a Cloud (and SaaS) differentiator. This is where the traditional players – not just IBM but also the big SIs like Accenture, Capgemini and Logica – can win brownie points, through their understanding of SLAs and willingness to offer them. Certainly IBM is playing the SLA card and it is also pointing to performance enhancements through dedicated circuits, on top of the standard cloud benefits like pay-per-usage.

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