Now that the dust has settled on Pulse 2012, analysts are evaluating IBM's strategy. At Pulse 2012, Big Blue highlighted how its plays in analytics Relevant Products/Services, systems management, sensors and security Relevant Products/Services are coming together to bridge the physical and digital Relevant Products/Services worlds and create new Smarter Planet infrastructures.

IBM made several announcements, including a new study on cloud Relevant Products/Services computing to rewrite corporate business Relevant Products/Services models. But one of the main highlights of the event was IBM addressing what it sees as the next shift in enterprise Relevant Products/Services cloud adoption.

A recent IBM Institute for Business Value study found that 90 percent of organizations expect to adopt or substantially deploy a cloud model in the next three years. As organizations take the next step beyond virtualized data Relevant Products/Services centers and expand their cloud environments, they are faced with what has become known as "virtual Relevant Products/Services image sprawl."

The SmartCloud Foundation

IBM's new SmartCloud Foundation offerings allow organizations to install, manage, configure and automate the creation of cloud services in private, public or hybrid environments. Collectively, the new offerings aim to help clients speed delivery, lower risk and better control the move to deploy cloud alongside their existing production environments. Is it a good bet for enteprises?

"At Pulse 2012, IBM significantly broadened its strategy positioning cloud computing as an agent of business change and also demonstrated that it intimately understands the practical reality and increasingly complex challenges IT professionals face daily," said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT.

Overall, he continued, the company's new SmartCloud offerings should provide IBM customers and partners the tools they need to quickly build and cost-effectively monitor and manage their cloud computing environments.

"By doing so, the company is certainly helping customers transform their businesses in new and elemental ways," King said. "But the process should also allow IBM to meet the challenges and enjoy the benefits of numerous cloud-driven market opportunities ahead."

Pushing Storage Hypervisors

Another part of the message was the storage Relevant Products/Services hypervisor. David Hill, principal analyst at Mesabi Group, said IBM Pulse 2012 covered a sweeping panorama of the world's IT infrastructures and what IBM and its partners are doing to "optimize" those environments. Storage management is a key component of the overall infrastructure Relevant Products/Services mosaic, he said and IBM directed attendees' attention to the need for a storage hypervisor.

Hill said a storage hypervisor can deliver storage cost efficiency and data mobility as standalone benefits, but IBM's approach can also provide the underpinning for broader service level benefits -- such as more effective use of I/O capabilities -- that are necessary for providing storage-as-a-service as part of an overall IT-as-a-service strategy in a cloud.

"The rain cloud inhibiting the adoption of 'true' cloud computing is that IT may resist replacing existing storage services from vendors that compete with IBM because of perceived switching costs. Still, the argument about standardization will set the tone for discussion in future years as the cloud would seem to demand standardization," Hill said.

"How IT will react will be very important in whether or not the cloud in a true IT-as-a-service sense rather than partial implementations that still leave some non-integrated information silos (with their implied cost inefficiencies) in place. So IBM's storage hypervisor is really stirring up the IT storage cloud pot."