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IBM takes aim at Amazon in the cloud

In what appears to be a swipe at market leader Amazon Web Services, IBM this week has announced a new version of its public cloud computing offering that provides customers additional support and services to manage enterprise applications in its cloud, such as those from SAP.

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IBM says a major hesitation by large enterprises to use public cloud computing resources has been the self-service model by various vendors. IBM is aiming to differentiate itself by adding a new offering, named Smart Cloud Enterprise+, which includes software life-cycle support, a new platform as a service (PaaS) offering and support for updating patches and identity management.

"Many organizations eager for the economic advantages of cloud computing hesitate to run critical applications on the cloud. Their applications require deep technical expertise, around-the-clock customer service, tight security and ongoing maintenance -- features typically found in IT sourcing arrangements but not in the "one-size-fits-all" model of self-service clouds," a press release form the company read.

IBM's announcement of SCE+ is a service to compliment the Smart Cloud Enterprise that comes with higher availability guarantees - up to 99.7% for SAP apps running in SCE+ - as well as additional management tools. IBM says its SCE+ includes LifeCycle as a Service, a service in which IBM support staff will help manage apps "from sandbox to production," including for SAP operating systems, databases and middleware.

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In addition to rolling out SCE+, IBM also expanded its geographic footprint for its cloud, which is now available across five continents including in Tokyo, Sydney, Brazil and European data centers. IDC cloud analyst Robert Mahowald says advanced SAP app support combined with a growing geographic footprint are important announcements for enterprise customers looking for cloud services.

"IBM is clearly taking digs at AWS," Mahowald wrote in an e-mail. "The fact that IBM offers comprehensive App Lifecycle and Migration services reinforces this notion. IBM SCE+ is somewhat like AWS's (Elastic Cloud Compute or EC2), but is designed to be a premium, services-driven experience, where AWS is much more self-service."

That will appeal most directly to enterprise customers who are looking for additional support from their vendor, or from current IBM managed hosting customers who may be looking for the additional flexibility an elastically-scalable and subscription-based cloud model provides.

Network World staff writer Brandon Butler covers cloud computing and social collaboration. He can be reached at BButler@nww.com and found on Twitter at @BButlerNWW.


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