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IBM churns up CloudBurst clouds

Not raining on Google and Amazon parades

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No more hanging around for tests?

List price for the initial CloudBurst setup is $207,387, and if you pay for it with 36-month financing from IBM Global Financing, that works out to $5,750 per month if you have a great credit rating. IBM is, as you might expect, peddling a set of "quick start" services for the CloudBurst gear that has IBM or its partners put the gear into your data center, configure it and setup user profiles, configure the self-service portal (one of the things that makes this a cloud and that is part of the CloudBurst service management pack), and train people to use this. The main innovation, as far as the bean counters are concerned, is that this all comes with a single invoice.

As has been the case with the virtualization wave that has been swamping the x64 server space for the past seven years, IBM is at first focusing its cloud offerings on two environments: application development and testing and end user desktops. The CloudBurst V1.1 software includes a self-service portal, which allows application developers and testers to spin up and spin down virtual machines to create n-tier application stacks as they create and test applications. IBM reckons that anywhere from 30 to 50 per cent of the iron at enterprise shops is devoted to development and test, and that developers usually have to wait weeks to get access to a machine that has been set up by administrators to do their tests.

One of the reasons why VMware has broken through the $1bn barrier is because waiting that long for a configuration is insane. The CloudBurst stack also includes automatic provisioning and decommissioning of servers and storage as developers start and stop their tests.

Customers can do whatever they want with this CloudBurst iron, but IBM would like to sell another layer of software and services on top of it that bear the Smart Business label - the same moniker that it is using for its server appliances for SMB customers. One Smart Business offering lets customers build their own development and test cloud behind their own firewall, built by IBM and using the customers' development tools atop the CloudBurst setup detailed above, and the other (which is now in preview and not yet available) will run IBM's own Rational tools on a CloudBurst setup in IBM's own data centers, allowing customers to rent time on the public cloud that IBM is building.

On the desktop virtualization front, IBM will take the CloudBurst setup, drop it into your data center, and configure it to run virtualized desktops. The company will support virtual desktop middleware from either VMware or Citrix Systems, as well as solutions from Desktone, Quest, and Wyse. As with the dev and test cloud, IBM will setup the CloudBurst iron in your shop with the virtual PC software to stream down to client desktops today, and in the future it will allow you to buy time on an IBM CloudBurst setup to host your desktops remotely over IBM's public cloud.

The CloudBurst stack of hardware and software will be available on June 19. Eventually, IBM says that it will provide CloudBurst configurations based on its Power Systems servers running AIX, i, and Linux and using its PowerVM hypervisor well as its mainframes and their LPAR logical partitioning. These both are expected later in 2009, but IBM was not more precise about when.

The main thing is that whatever is woven into these clouds, they will be self-contained, will be aimed at specific workloads, will come with a single price tag, and will be able to tap into IBM's own public clouds when and if customers run out of capacity on their internal clouds. ®

High performance access to file storage

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