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Summary: IBM's SmartCloud includes a new Infrastructure-as-a-Service layer to blend outsourcing and other IT services within the cloud.

Original Post From Rachel King

ORLANDO -- IBM has been busy playing up its software unit amid IBM Connect 2013 this week, but the cloud is getting some special attention today too.

The tech giant is upgrading its SmartCloud in a few different ways, including an extended partnership involving SAP.

Big Blue will be offering an SAP-based service unique to IBM for automating IT environments. Essentially, businesses can set up, test and deploy SAP solutions using IBM's new SmartCloud Enterprise (SCE+) Infrastructure-as-a-Service cloud, also being unveiled on Tuesday.

With SCE+, IBM asserted that this represents a major step for its public cloud as it continues to blend the company's outsourcing business with more IT arrangements.

For the SAP-focused service, IBM is promising "99.7 percent availability based on a global delivery model to support cloud-based systems around the clock."

This particular product will be delivered as a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) for SAP Business Suite software and BusinessObjects customers.

But for the general SCE+ environment, IBM guarantees availability for each single OS-instance from 98.5 percent up to 99.9 percent.

Those figures are slightly less than what is being promised to SAP users with today's announcement, thus promoting the extra incentive for those customers.

IBM has cloud centers for SCE+ scattered across five continents within Japan, Brazil, Canada, France, Australia, Germany, and the United States. Another cloud center in Barcelona, Spain is scheduled to be operative by mid-2013.

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