IBM floats cloud starter kit

IBM floats cloud starter kit

New system aims to bring grid computing to the enterprise

IBM is preparing a programme which will make cloud computing systems available to enterprises.

Cloud systems are large networks of machines linked together to perform a specific task.

Such systems often involve hundreds or even thousands of processing nodes and have conventionally been limited to huge online systems, such as Google's search engine or Sun Microsystems' grid.

As enterprise data centres and web applications become larger and more complex, IBM sees enterprises needing the computing power offered by cloud systems.

"A lot of customers have come to us with a crisis of data centres running out of power or space," said Dennis Quan, chief technology strategist for IBM's Blue Cloud project.

Quan said that IBM will offer cloud computing as a long-term way to manage these large data centres.

IBM's Blue Cloud blade centre enclosure is divided between administration systems and blade servers designed to comprise a basic cloud computing structure.

Management software includes parts of IBM's Tivoli suite as well as XenSource virtualisation tools and Linux software to administer the systems. IBM hopes to launch the system in early 2008.

"If your ambitions are to have tens of thousands of machines, you have to start somewhere," explained Quan.

Data centres and web services are not the only markets at which Blue Cloud is being aimed. Quan said that some government organisations are also looking to cloud computing.

Cloud systems in emerging economies could be used by students or entrep reneurs who would not otherwise have access to a large-scale system. Quan claims that several governments have shown interest in the system.

IBM is providing a similar service in the US through a joint programme with Google announced in October.

The two companies are building a large cloud computing system which will be provided free of charge to university students looking to develop web-based applications.

Quan explained that the Google-IBM project, along with the cloud system at IBM's Almaden research centre, served as forerunners to Blue Cloud.

"The cloud offering is the result of a cloud we have had running within IBM for a few years," he said. "We have learned a lot from hosting these projects."