The cloud isn't just about infrastructure -- it's also about applications. Today IBM announced the global availability of its SmartCloud Enterprise+ service, with support for SAP applications.
Dennis Quan, VP of SmartCloud at IBM, explained to Datamation that the new offering is all about helping to close the gap between what enterprises need and what the cloud is able to offer.
"We're giving customers an end-to-end offering around running SAP business applications in the cloud," Quan said. "Bringing it to the cloud is not just about running virtual machines, the key challenges is about enterprise grade SLAs (Service Level Agreements) on not just the virtual machines, but on the applications."
With the IBM SmartCloud for SAP applications offering, the goal is to provide the same level of service and quality in the cloud to enterprises that they are used to getting in traditional data centers. Quan noted that the IBM service has 99.7 percent availability and is provided by the global footprint of IBM cloud data centers.
IBM is also expanding its cloud data center portfolio to support the SmartCloud solution. Currently Smart Cloud Enterprise is supported by IBM data centers in Canada, Brazil, Japan, France, Australia, Germany and the U.S. By the middle of 2013, the plan is to have an additional data center in Spain.
From a technology perspective, IBM is using a number of different technologies to power the SmartCloud offerings. The SmartCloud Enterprise+ solution is a high-end application cloud offering and it runs cloud enabled workloads.
"It's meant for enterprises to take their mission critical applications like SAP and run them in the cloud," Quan said. "The platform is both x86 and POWER based."
There is also a sister offering called SmartCloud Enterprise and it is focused on running what Quan referred to as cloud-native workloads. Cloud native workloads are those that have been designed for scale-out architecture across multiple virtual machines. Those workloads are enabled on x86 based servers. The roadmap for SmartCloud Enterprise calls for the service to be powered by the open source OpenStack cloud platform.
IBM is a founding member of the OpenStack Foundation. Quan noted that over the course of the next 12 to 18 months, IBM will be moving much of its cloud infrastructure technology to OpenStack.
Today, Quan explained that SmartCloud Enterprise takes advantage of VMware technology, though it's not the only piece of the picture.
"We have a system the uses multiple virtualization technologies and the system is based on an IBM Tivoli management environment," Quan said.