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Thought Leaders In Cloud Computing: Ric Telford, Vice President Of Cloud Services, IBM (Part 2)

Posted on Thursday, Aug 19th 2010

SM: What is the situation with cloud application vendors such as Salesforce.com and SuccessFactors, which have cloud applications hosted on their own data centers? Is there a push toward those kinds of applications?

RT: I think that over time you will see more applications delivered through a cloud delivery model from vendors such as Salesforce.com. I think Salesforce.com has demonstrated that you can leverage the cloud computing delivery model for an application.

From the IBM perspective, we understand that, and this understanding was behind our recent acquisition of Cast Iron. Now, if you are an enterprise and you want to take advantage of an application such as Salesforce.com, you have a new challenge – you need to be able to integrate your employee information, your client information, and your sales information between public cloud services that are running on Salesforce.com and your enterprise business systems. That’s what Cast Iron does; it allows you to create integration models so that you have the same set of master data replicated between Salesforce.com and your enterprise business system. For example, if you have a master customer list, you want the changes in Salesforce.com to be replicated with your system. This is what Cast Iron system does for you. From an IBM perspective, we hear from enterprises that one of their key initiatives is integration of an application service on the public cloud, and that drives a number of our investment decisions, including the Cast Iron acquisition.

SM: Is it a logical hypothesis that IBM will integrate a lot of public applications with acquisitions?

RT: Well, I can’t speculate what IBM will do. One thing that we are looking at from a future services perspective is industry-targeted solutions. Not necessarily at the application layer, but the infrastructure level from an industry view. So, what are the kinds of services that retail would look for in the cloud? How about education? One reference we have is what we’ve done with North Carolina State University – this is for a cloud infrastructure aimed at provisioning classroom infrastructure systems. I can’t talk too much about the application layer and what IBM is going to do with it, but I can say that when we look at enterprises in a specific industry, we look at the needs of that industry and how can we meet them.

SM: Pat Toole also talked about your roll-out of analytics functions in the cloud. I wanted to get your thoughts on your position and what choices have you made in the architecture from an integration point of view. This is one of the most integration-heavy areas, and when I talked to some CIOs, some of them said they are shying away from analytics because of the heavy integration challenges. You have gone full blast on that.

RT: Yes, the union of the two thoughts – analytics and the cloud – is a compelling model, and I am sure that Pat took you through our Blue Insight Project. We at IBM have a view of a model of cloud delivery and analytics which is very powerful. For the reasons you just talked about, it’s very complicated, and a lot of integration and heavy lifting are needed. We took our view of what an analytics cloud would look like, and we built a cloud and called it the Blue Insight project.

Prior to Blue Insight, every business unit and sometimes multiple business units had analytic servers – they would do reporting, business intelligence–type (BI) queries. Each system was underutilized because the business unit wouldn’t use it every day; hence, it was not the most cost-effective system. What we did was build an analytics cloud with the ability to run reports on a union of data that our different businesses were looking at, and with that we have the ability to be accessible and usable from any cloud in IBM. It’s a centralized and a usage-based model that could be much more efficient than what we had before, which was disparate analytics systems all around the company. So, now, employees who were doing analytics on different silos have the ability to do all calculations in one integrated cloud.

Jen: It’s expected to have 200,000 users by the end of the year. We currently have 140,000 users.


This segment is part 2 in the series : Thought Leaders In Cloud Computing: Ric Telford, Vice President Of Cloud Services, IBM
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