New IBM services offer cloud setup, 'validation'

IBM is getting into the cloud computing services business, the company announced Monday.

IBM launched a new set of cloud computing consulting and implementation services on Monday, framing the move as something that could spark wider adoption of the model.

While cloud computing has gained a huge amount of attention in recent years, questions linger around issues such as security and reliability, compared to traditional on-premises infrastructure.

IBM intends to dispel those concerns with industry-specific consulting services for assessing the total cost of ownership of cloud computing, as well as for designing and implementing cloud operations. The company is also starting a company-wide effort aimed at hardening cloud security.

In addition, IBM is rolling out the "Resilient Cloud Validation" program, which will enable cloud computing vendors that undergo a certification process to use an IBM "Resilient Cloud" logo in their marketing materials.

One industry observer questioned whether IBM is being too hasty in rolling out such services and programs.

"It's far to early in the curve to really identify what the industry-specific best practices are for cloud computing," said James Governor, an analyst with Redmonk. "While I understand IBM's desire to drive an industry-vertical go-to-market strategy across its portfolio, cloud computing is still something that's very experimental. It's very hard to nail down the total cost of ownership, the whats and the whys."

But Big Blue's announcement could have real influence over cloud computing's adoption in the marketplace, said another Redmonk analyst, Stephen O'Grady.

"Many enterprises regard IBM as an enterprise kingmaker; as was demonstrated with Linux, their imprimatur can push conservative enterprises over the tipping point from an adoption perspective," O'Grady said.

Cloud computing refers generally to the practice of delivering applications and services over the Internet. It encompasses various subsets, such as SaaS (software as a service) business programs and utility computing -- server and storage infrastructure that scales in accordance to demand.

IBM's stamp may spur a sense of comfort in large enterprises, but it is not as if the vendor owns the market for cloud consulting.

IBM services have "substantial experience in scaling projects," but so do many other large systems integrators, O'Grady said.

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