Both IBM and AT&T have unveiled new schemes that put their giant processing power and vast data storage facilities at the disposal of the little guy (or business) with a Net connection.
IBM's entry into the cloud-computing service market has seemed surprisingly late for such a technology-leading mega-company, especially with players like Amazon already offering a huge suite of virtual computing systems. Perhaps that's why the new Smart Analytics Cloud that IBM's launching is being applied internally to the company before being rolled out to the rest of the world--where it's apparently dubbed the Blue Insight system.
As the name betrays, the SAC is more sophisticated than the remote-computing/cloud-storage system that you tend to think of when reading the term "cloud computing"--it's a business analytics package that drags together different pieces of business-critical information from various locations within the company. It will cover everything from finances to inventory data, and this broad reach means it'll consist of over a petabyte of data.
In contrast, AT&T's Synaptic Computing As A Service is more traditional: It's a cloud-based processing system, which AT&T says can be used for "cloudbursting" apps to users or as a test and development environment. According to AT&T's VP for Hosting and Cloud Services Steve Caniano, it can be configured either as a public or private cloud, which in the latter case is connected to the end users over AT&T's network--connections that "many companies will already have with AT&T."
AT&T's goal seems to be to leverage its big-name status and existing business relationships to attract potential customers who may be wary of cloud computing from other providers, due to data security issues and cybercrime events like Distributed Denial of Service attacks. AT&T will roll out the service to U.S. networks first, and then onto its global data centers so it can be sold to clients around the world.
Why's this interesting? Though both AT&T and IBM are huge names in the tech business, it seems they're lagging far behind Amazon, Google, Apple, and Microsoft's efforts at making cloud computing work. Amazon recently launched  a particularly clever Virtual Private Machine cloud computing solution that lets companies run workstations in Amazon's cloud, but which are actually an integrated part of the existing network within the company.