IBM is making a $300 million bet that it can turn cloud computing into a lot more than the buzzword du jour.
Big Blue is spending that sum to equip 13 data centers around the world with infrastructure that will let customers access a bevy of cloud-based computer services in the event service disruptions take down their networks.
The investment also constitutes the biggest investment IBM has ever made in this area, according to Brian Reagan, who directs the company's Global Strategy & Portfolio Management group.
"You either would have dedicated seats or essentially a replica of your work center at that data center (shared or dedicated)," he said. "By using a lot of these virtualization techniques, when you want to move your workspace from your office we would be able to transparently move your applications and desktop so you'd be up and running."
Although it's nearly impossible to guarantee 100 percent up time in the event of a man-made or natural disaster, Big Blue is treading on familiar terrain. Cloud computing dates back several decades to the era when mainframes ruled the computing roost. As Rob Enderle noted on a different occasion:
"Back when IBM was at its peak, it leased mainframes and was virtually recession-proof. Cloud computing, in its absolute sense, isn't computers you purchase for your own cloud, but services you subscribe to for your organization, which can be increased or decreased based on need."
In a similar way, IBM's latest move is to provide cloud-based storage on a as-needed basis. In the event of a service disruption, the company says its data centers would be able to electronically process the shift in information from customer sites in order restore service in a reasonable amount of time.
Again, the parallel with its mainframe past is hard to ignore as IBM is no stranger to running multiple customers on a single machine with a single application. This latest initiative is more complex, but the company is drawing on its experience with multitenancy.
Some of the technology IBM is employing here comes from its acquisition late last year of Arsenal Digital Solutions, whose rack-mounted storage appliances will provide the storage for information and applications data.
Clearly, IBM wants to press whatever advantage it believes it possesses in this segment of the technology field. Earlier this month, it announced plans to spend around $400 million to add cloud computing data centers in North Carolina and Tokyo.