Darryl K. Taft| Techweekeurope

IBM closed a busy week of cloud computing deals across Europe and Asia that indicate the systems, software and services giant is intently focused on its quest to become the leader in the cloud computing space.

On 18 December IBM joined forces with 21Vianet Group, a large Chinese carrier-neutral Internet Data Centre (IDC) service provider, to introduce IBM’s premier cloud infrastructure service and accelerate high-value managed private cloud adoption. As part of the deal, IBM will provide the physical point of distribution (POD) and service while 21Vianet will host the POD facility at the 21Vianet data centre in Beijing.

China innovation

This partnership brings IBM SmartCloud Enterprise+ to China. IBM has a long history in driving innovation in China and already manages numerous high-value cloud engagements with many large organisations.Cloud computing has become a mainstream delivery mechanism for IT globally but enterprise cloud is still in a nascent stage of adoption. Many IT buyers understand that there are a range of options from the low-end, commodity cloud marketplace that provides little more than cheap storage and access. On the other end of the spectrum is IBM’s cloud infrastructure and managed services that can expand to accommodate any workload with the real-time performance and integrity.

21Vianet provides hosting and related services, managed network services and cloud computing infrastructure services. Customers may locate their servers and networking equipment in 21Vianet’s data centres and connect to China’s Internet backbone through 21Vianet’s fiber-optic network. In addition, 21Vianet’s proprietary smart-routing technology, BroadEx, enables customers’ data to be delivered across the Internet in a faster and more reliable manner.

21Vianet operates in more than 40 cities throughout China, servicing a base of more than 2,000 customers that span many industries – ranging from Internet companies to government entities and blue-chip enterprises to small and midsize enterprises.

“IBM is a global leading enterprise-level cloud computing provider,” said Josh Chen, chairman and chief executive of 21Vianet Group, in a statement. “What’s more, IBM is a sincere partner, not only sharing its own technologies and services, but also growing together with us with business insights, management experience, operations and marketing to help drive innovation.”

Indian expansion

Also last week, IBM announced that Kasbah Systems Software, an Indian IT company, and IBM are teaming to help universities better manage services for students and improve the overall education experience through cloud-based analytics.

Kasbah Systems selected IBM’s SoftLayer to host its Genius University Management System (Genius UMS), a cloud-based integrated administration and management solution that consists of various independent functional modules, starting from admission to graduation. It has been designed to increase the efficiency of the departments in the university and provide online information to the management, staff and students. Genius UMS enables universities to create a more structured organisation, increases the transaction-handling capacity and improves the system of internal control.

India has more than 600 universities and 33,000 colleges, with an estimated enrollment of 27.5 million students in higher education each year.

With an increasing student base and demand for better educational programmes, institutions are looking for ways to improve their operational efficiency and academic performance.

Kasbah Systems Software specialises in IT services, tech consulting and product development. To offer more agility and speed, Kasbah System Software relies on the IBM SoftLayer cloud to host Genius UMS, as the administration and management solution requires a significant level of computing resources and scale to analyse massive amounts of data created in the institutions.

“The Indian educational system is undergoing transformation and is at the forefront of adopting new technologies to impart better education,” said S. Rajiv, executive director of Kasbah Systems Software, in a statement. “As a developer of innovative solutions for the educational industry, we needed higher-value cloud capabilities to further enhance our offering that were reliable and enabled us to scale in a secure environment. The IBM SoftLayer cloud helps us make Genius UMS more cost-effective and easy to implement and use.”

Eurobank deal

Meanwhile, in Europe, IBM and Eurobank announced a new cloud-based digital platform for online international commercial trading. Using IBM’s Digital Experience software, with advanced cloud capabilities and social offerings, Eurobank is uniting exporters and importers from around the globe to enhance international trade operations and increase transactions.

With more than 1,000 branches in seven countries, Eurobank is one of the largest banks in Greece. Looking to address growing customer demand for new online trading and transactions services, Eurobank turned to IBM to develop Exportgate, a cloud-based digital experience capable of strengthening online multi-lateral trade between Greek businesses and their international counterparts across 180 countries.

Exportgate offers a secure business-to-business web portal with social capabilities and a number of e-services designed to facilitate trade transactions with new partners. With the system, international buyers can easily access profiles of Greek sellers, contact them through the direct message feature, view virtual presentations, and participate in forums where they can exchange ideas, research and more.

For example, IBM said, a local company offering a range of Greek wines and olive oils was looking to expand operations globally. Using Exportgate, it uncovered partnership opportunities with importers in China, France, the United Kingdom and the United States, all with experience and knowledge of working in the high-quality food and beverages industry. As a result, they were able to expand their business while ensuring that buyers received the same superior quality of products as if they were purchased locally.

“One of the biggest challenges of international trade is the inability to effectively identify and engage with new partners on a global scale,” Constantinos Vousvounis, general manager of the corporate group and investment banking unit of Eurobank, said in a statement. “Exportgate is helping to remove these barriers. By partnering with IBM, members now have access to a cloud-based digital experience that helps them easily identify and expand their network of trusted partners while minimising costs and accelerating growth into new markets.”

Exportgate members now have access to collective and updated directories of over 1,400 Greek exporters and more than 6,500 international trading companies. To date, the site has generated more than 485,000 visits; 1,348,102 portal page views; over 8,000 e-library member visits; and more than 2,300 partnerships and connections among international companies, IBM said.

“Eurobank’s new digital strategy for international imports and exports has brought vibrancy to the global trading system in the region,” said Larry Bowden, vice president of Exceptional Digital Software at IBM, in a statement. “Now, through this unique cloud-based digital experience, members have unparalleled access to their target audiences, as well as one of the largest and most organised libraries of trading resources that are all customised to their exact industry and business needs.”

Croatian telecommunications

Finally, IBM also announced that Terrakom, a Croatian telecommunication services provider focused on hosting and cable-based telecommunication services, has deployed IBM Flex Systems to provision private, public and hybrid cloud infrastructures. Its clients span a broad range – from big retail chains and insurance companies to universities and individual subscribers.

The new systems will improve the quality of Terrakom’s cloud environment, help the company enter a new market segment and meet increasing client demands for services delivered through the cloud. The IBM Flex System will also help ensure uninterrupted operation of all system components and significantly reduce Terrakom’s energy consumption.

IBM said its Flex Systems are designed to provide easy implementation of cloud applications. As a result, since deployment Terrakom has been able to deliver applications within four minutes of a client service request, effectively making the company into an infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) provider as well, IBM said.

“Earlier this year, we entered a market segment which is new for us – managed server and web hosting services,” said Andrej Kalanovic, a member of the management board at Terrakom, in a statement. “To tap the growth opportunities in this area, and after a thorough testing process, we selected IBM Flex System. We put a special focus on IBM’s advanced system management features, energy and space savings. With the new IT infrastructure, we reduced our hardware inventory by 60 percent and increased our efficiency by 35 percent.”

Terrakom will use part of the new system as a voice platform, while the other will be used in combination with new IBM Flex System to strengthen Terrakom’s capabilities to offer new cloud-based services faster to the market. The company has established a new dedicated brand for these new private, pubic and hybrid cloud offerings: INSIDE Cloud. Along with IBM Flex System, Terrakom deployed the IBM Storwize v3700 data storage system, complementing its existing IBM infrastructure that has been in use since 2010.


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