The cloud computing craze seems to be overtaking IBM Corp. lately, as the company unveiled a new business analytics cloud service on Monday aimed at prying customers away from industry giants Amazon.com Inc., Google Inc. and Salesforce.com.
The IBM Smart Analytics Cloud is based on what IBM is calling “the largest private cloud computing environment for business analytics,” an internal cloud Big Blue also unveiled on Monday called Blue Insight.
IBM’s massive internal business intelligence cloud will hold more than one petabyte of data and will give the company’s developers and salespeople access to a variety of client and market data from nearly 100 different data warehouses.
But in addition to using this cloud to power its internal employees, IBM hopes its enterprise customers can also take advantage of the tools that went into creating Blue Insight.
The external offering, which runs on IBM’s Cognos BI software and System Z mainframe hardware and is installed by IBM’s services team, will give large customers a solid blueprint for launching their own private business analytics cloud, said Andrea Greggo, a System Z cloud initiative leader with IBM.
Greggo said the template is enterprise-optimized and will give IT administrators everything they need to start running business analytics in the cloud.
Drue Reeves, a research director at Midvale, Utah-based Burton Group, said that IBM’s decision to give its customers access to this template basically means they are offering up years of customer interactions and data.
The cloud market has typically been sliced up into software-as-a-service offerings (Google Apps), platform-as-a-service offerings (Microsoft Azure), and hardware infrastructure-as-a-service offerings (Amazon’s EC2).
But IBM’s move fits into another category that has seen increasing attention called a software infrastructure-as-a service offering, he said.
“The other infrastructure-as-a-service and platform-as-a-service providers really haven’t done very much like this,” Reeves said. “Amazon would have data sets, but they’re going to have it from a retail perspective. The same goes for Salesforce.com, which is going to have it from an end-user perspective. Both are not going to have the enterprise-wide verticals that IBM has had.”
“They have a lot of data that is very interesting to enterprises,” he added.
This offering is part of the evitable evolution of the cloud, Reeves said, and might actually force existing industry players to partner up with other vendors in order to keep pace.
“Amazon and Salesforce.com are forced to react,” he said. “They have to offer data sets, otherwise they’re in serious competition and will have trouble attracting enterprise customers.”
Reeves speculated that these cloud vendors might actually consider teaming up with systems integrators and service providers such as Hewlett-Packard Co., Accenture PLC and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLC.
The private cloud package comes on the heels of last week’s news that IBM is ramping up its investments in the cloud and virtualization security market.
“IBM is moving forward quickly in cloud computing,” Reeves said. “They were behind at first, but now they’re shoring up as many places as they can. We don’t normally see IBM move this fast.”