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November 17, 2010

Exclusive: IBM won’t join Compuware’s cloud Community – yet

Big Blue says it supports standards where there is a "level playing field"

By Jason Stamper

Cloudy sky

In an exclusive interview with CBR, IBM UK & Ireland cloud computing technical leader John Easton said that Big Blue is "aware" of Compuware’s CloudSleuth cloud partner community, but there are no firm plans for the company to lend its weight to it.

Compuware took the wraps off its "partner-driven cloud Community" earlier this month, saying it built it to highlight the performance of cloud computing providers around the world. But while it is early days, the absence of cloud providers such as IBM, BT, Fujitsu and Colt show its initiative doesn’t yet have the backing of all the major cloud providers.

Their absence could be taken as a sign that they are not yet ready to have their cloud services subjected to public scrutiny, or that they don’t believe that Compuware’s CloudSleuth Community has the necessary level of independence to give all providers a level playing field and ensure that like is compared with like.

IBM’s Easton noted that, "What is required from the standards space is to establish a level playing field for vendors to provide solutions that give clients choice, interoperability, defined interfaces between the major IT services, and that allow them to more easily integrate their existing applications with the new cloud infrastructure."

Compuware says CloudSleuth is a partner-driven cloud community, with those partners given the opportunity to highlight third-party verification of the performance and reliability of their services. Initial partners include OpSource, CDNetworks, GoGrid, Internet Initiative Japan (IIJ) and Teklinks.

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But IBM’s Easton added: "We select the set of standards to drive and/or support based on customer requirements, scenarios and IBM solution capabilities. IBM is closely watching the cloud computing standards space and is aware of Compuware’s Community. We are waiting to see how this initiative progresses and how our clients respond to it."

Speaking to CBR when Compuware announced CloudSleuth, Doug Willoughby, Compuware director of cloud computing, told CBR that he expects to announce BT as a partner soon, and the firm is already in discussions with Colt. He said IBM – a close rival to Compuware in the mainframe software space in particular – has not refused to get involved, but, "We haven’t deliberately targeted them at all. There are no plans to announce at this stage. We’ve just not had the opportunity to engage with them yet."

Willoughby insisted that CloudSleuth is a community, and not a closed shop only open to friends of Compuware: "It’s a community portal," he said. "Anyone who wants to get involved just has to pick up the phone, basically. There are absolutely no restrictions."

Meanwhile IBM’s Easton said that Big Blue is broadly in favour of standards: "There is a need for standards to allow clients to choose their cloud providers and more importantly evolve from their existing IT infrastructures. Many existing standards and some potential new or evolved standards apply in the cloud computing space. In cloud, just as in any other space, IBM supports and helps produce standards when they are beneficial to IBM’s strategy and are in our clients’ interests."

In addition to blogs, forums and resources provided by CloudSleuth partners, the site features a number of applications to help enterprises build and manage cloud apps, and monitor the performance and availability of public cloud providers.

CloudSleuth applications are already monitoring the performance and availability of cloud-based applications on clouds from Amazon EC2, CloudSigma, GoGrid, Google, Microsoft Azure, IIJ GIO, OpSource, Rackspace and Terremark. The performance – measured in seconds elapsed downloading two web pages as part of a test application – as well as availability, are measured by Compuware’s Gomez Performance Network, which includes backbone node checks from data centres as well as last-mile checks from over 100,000 real clients.

CloudSleuth has also been working with three content delivery networks (CDNs), Cloudfront, Edgecast and CDNetworks, which will help to give those considering the cloud an idea of how the use of CDNs might affect the performance of applications hosted with different cloud providers.

Ovum analyst Laurent Lachal said of Compuware’s initiative: "CloudSleuth is a timely offering that will help boost market awareness of public cloud QoS issues. This is timely because enterprises are becoming increasingly hungry for actual data about the quality of service that public clouds offer."

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