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Cloud computing hardware seeded by IBM set for Q1 release

Aimed at powering expanding Web 2.0 and mobile applications

By Todd R. Weiss and James Niccolai
November 15, 2007 12:00 PM ET

IDG News Service - In a move to create more robust, scalable computing systems that can power the expanding needs of new Web 2.0 and mobile applications, IBM today said it will unveil its first enterprise-ready cloud computing hardware in the first quarter of next year.

In an announcement today, IBM said the first product under its new Blue Cloud family will be blade servers running x86 and IBM Power processors, followed later by System z mainframes and a cloud environment based on highly dense rack clusters. The first blade servers are expected to debut in the first quarter of 2008, said Dennis Quan, chief technology officer of high-performance on-demand solutions at IBM.

The idea of cloud computing, Quan said, is to link together large pools of systems that specifically are aimed at handling the design and performance needs of emerging Web 2.0 and mobile applications. Cloud computing is different from similar ideas such as grid computing, because different types of services are needed. For example, Web 2.0 applications require more Web servers to be configured and controlled than grid systems, which require different architectures and needs, he said. Grid systems also typically run big number-crunching applications, which won't necessarily be the focus of cloud systems.

"It's not just about large-scale back-end data components," Quan said. "It's also about the front-end user experience."

IBM is comparing the significance of Blue Cloud to its decision several years ago to throw its weight behind Linux, which helped the open-source operating system become more widely accepted by corporations. The new effort stems from technologies developed at IBM's Almaden Research Center, and IBM said 200 of its researchers have been working on the project.

Blue Cloud is based partly on the open-source Xen and PowerVM virtualization technologies, and an open-source work scheduling software called Apache Hadoop, which breaks big computing jobs into component tasks and distributes them across multiple computers, reallocating work when a server fails. IBM said it will package the technologies with its own Tivoli systems management software and consulting services.

Blue Cloud hardware and software will help power the expanding needs of such Web 2.0 applications as MySpace, Flickr and others, Quan said, as they continue to grow in terms of users and content. "It's going to be a large increase in the number of simultaneous users who are going to need to connect to these applications," he said. "So we need ways of bringing together lots of machines to provide power to these Web 2.0 applications."

Cloud computing is an extension to efforts around grid and clustered computing, which have also been pursued by other vendors including Hewlett-Packard Co., Sun Microsystems Inc. and Microsoft Corp. IBM said the "special sauce" it will bring to the problem is software that lets the computing cloud "self-manage and self-heal."

Reprinted with permission from Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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