Thursday, March 20, 2008

The first IBM Cloud Computing Centre in Europe

Just like any other of the many academic collaborators IBM has across Ireland, a while ago Gabriela was invited to attend an IBM event in Dublin yesterday, March 19. The invitation email didn't give many details - an important announcement was going to be made, and the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Micheál Martin, was going to attend.

After two years of observing "life at the code face" and reading a lot about IBM's corporate culture, this was a chance to meet people at the top of the organisation and observe IBM's public (inter)face she couldn't miss!

The venue for the event was the Merrion Hotel. The IBM country general manager for Ireland, Michael Daly, opened the meeting - actually a press conference. The Minister Micheál Martin made the actual announcement: IBM is ready to open its first European Cloud Computing Centre which will be located in Mulhuddart - Dublin. IBM Vice President Willy Chiu followed, presenting the bigger picture: the concept of "cloud computing", the existing IBM cloud computing centres and the ones to be be created in the future, and how this trend fits into the general IBM strategy.

According to Mr.Chiu, the "cloud computing" concept combines grid computing, on demand services and Web 2.o technologies (the IBM Idea Factory) to provide a new type of Enterprise Data Centre.
Cloud computing is an information technology (IT) infrastructure in which dynamically shared computing resources are virtualized and accessed as a service. Cloud computing replaces the traditional data center model in which companies own and manage their own stand alone hardware and software systems. Cloud computing is an attractive proposition for small to large-sized companies. It also is a green technology model that reduces energy consumption by improving IT resource utilization, therefore requiring fewer servers to handle equivalent workloads.

One of the first IBM customers who will make use of the services of the new cloud computing centre is Sogeti (the IT services firm owned by consulting firm Cap Gemini) - Michiel Boreel CTO of Sogeti had an intervention as well, showing that this initiative "jumpstarts a new innovation culture" and they are planning to "make innovation everybody's job".

More details can be found in this IBM press release.

The press conference was followed by a demo session and more networking.
Here's a list of mentions of the event found in the media today:

- ENN- IBM to open Dublin cloud computing centre
- Information Week - IBM opens 'cloud computing' centre in Dublin
- ITPro - IBM moves into clouds and social networks
- RTE - IBM Cloud Centre brings Dublin jobs (including some audio recordings and a very low quality picture taken on the Mulhuddart campus probably with a phone camera from a car!)
- The Industry Standard via IDG - IBM opens cloud computing center in Dublin.

Without any possible doubt, IBM has a great innovation culture and the proper tools to support it. But will simply providing the same infrastructure (and consulting) to its clients lead to the same results?! From what we saw, people develop local, situated practices around the tools they appropriate. There are cases in the literature where software development teams making use of the same tool had built completely different local practices around that tool.
It's a pity that so many of the approaches to innovation and knowledge management are so rigid and mechanical as opposed to the richness and beauty of what can be observed in practice!