IBM considers hosting SmartCloud in Australia

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IBM considers hosting SmartCloud in Australia

End-user demand to dictate build of local enterprise cloud compute.

A key IBM Australia networking engineer has revealed that the local operation hopes to build an enterprise-grade version of the vendor’s cloud computing service on Australian soil, possibly before the end of the year.

IBM’s SmartCloud service – announced last month – has seen the launch of vanilla IaaS services (SmartCloud Enterprise) to the region from a Singaporean data centre and the promise of a more complex, production-grade version of the service later in the year.

In a wide-ranging interview with iTnews, distinguished IBM engineer Michael Shallcross expressed confidence the Australian market would present a good opportunity for the latter service to be hosted locally.

“There might be an opportunity for a shared instance in Australia if there is a large enough base of customers to use it,” Shallcross told iTnews.

The decisive factor to justify that investment in Australia, he said, would be the volume and criticality of the data clients wish to store as part of the service.

Regulatory constraints preventing many Australian customers from hosting sensitive data in Singapore could swing the balance in favour of deploying the service locally.

“Our expectation is that it will almost certainly happen,” Shallcross said. “I am reasonably confident the demand will be there.”

Like IBM’s existing VSS offer, SmartCloud offers the hosting of virtual server instances running Windows and Linux. But where VSS is only available on three-to-five year contracts, with little in the way of automation, IBM has promised that SmartCloud will be sold on a genuine pay-as-you-go basis, with self-service provisioning available over a web interface.

Further, the SmartCloud platform will host middleware for hire – and it won’t be limited to IBM’s tools. IBM’s Websphere app server, DB2 and Rational database tools and Lotus Domino server will be available on the platform, but so will the tools of some of IBM’s ISV partners.

This is where the SmartCloud Enterprise + service – should it come to Australia – will be of most value. This service will extend operating system options beyond Windows and Linux to Unix applications (AIX).

In time, IBM intends to offer these services on larger hardware platforms (System Z or mainframe, for example), such that some of the largest and most complex enterprise applications will be delivered in a utility fashion.

SmartCloud Enterprise + will also up the ante in terms of service level guarantee. The Singapore-based Enterprise service offers a 99.5 percent uptime SLA, whilst Enterprise + offers  99.9 percent.

Shallcross said these are the kinds of metrics customers will demand when hosting complex applications such as SAP ERP systems.

Fujitsu claims to be hosting SAP applications on its Sydney-based cloud platform, and Shallcross expects IBM will soon be able to do the same.

But Shallcross said IBM would not immediately be likely to offer SAP via a multi-tenant instance.

SmartCloud Enterprise + will also offer varying levels of “isolation”, IBM said, such as a dedicated number of processes or blades within an IBM chassis hosting the service.

Click here to read iTnews' analysis of IBM's cloud computing plans.

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