Monday, February 23, 2009

IBM Software Available Pay-As-You-Go on EC2

Just before we released our paper, IBM and Amazon made a very interesting announcement: IBM software will be available in the cloud with pay-as-you-go licensing. This makes IBM one of the first major enterprise software vendors to provide pay-as-you-go licensing in the cloud. (Another example is Red Hat, which provides supported versions of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, JBoss and other software for a monthly fee plus a by-the-hour fee). In our white paper, we had identified software licensing models as an obstacle to cloud computing, so we are excited to see this development. The announcement highlights some of the benefits that a software vendor like IBM can get from cloud computing. IBM is letting software developers use their products in the cloud at no additional cost for development purposes (other than a small monthly fee), thus essentially providing a very easy-to-use trial version of the software: spinning up an AMI with, for example, DB2, is much faster and more convenient than working out a trial arrangement with a sales representative and installing the software. This is good for developers because they can focus on integration with the software, and it's good for IBM because it lets more people try their products. For companies that want to do more than development, the software can be used in the cloud with either an existing (longer-term) IBM billing plan or an hourly pay-as-you-go billing plan. Details of the latter are not available yet, but it will be interesting to see what the setup, monthly and hourly fees have to look like for a supported pay-as-you-go offering to make sense. At Berkeley we believe that at least in the short term, one of the biggest advantages of cloud computing is ease of experimentation. Before today, one could use a cloud service like EC2 to test out multiple operating systems, machine images with pre-configured open-source software stacks, and large-scale experiments (will my software scale to 100 nodes?). The availability of software like DB2, WebSphere sMash, etc from IBM means even more prototyping and experimentation is possible without negotiating long-term contracts or having to go through a complicated setup process. This potential for prototyping and experimentation helps both software users and commercial software vendors.

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