IBM Tells Its Cloud Story

Cloud Strategies

IBM Tells Its Cloud Story

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, TMC  |  December 07, 2016

IBM is considered among the top cloud providers. Just where it fits in the mix, however, depends upon to whom you’re talking.

In its Magic Quadrant for Cloud IaaS Worldwide 2016, Gartner (News - Alert) refers to IBM SoftLayer as a niche player, while Amazon Web Services is named as the clear leader, followed by Microsoft. Meanwhile, Deutsche Bank’s Markets Research says IBM isn’t even a direct competitor due to its hybrid cloud approach. However, UBS Global Research considers IBM among the top four cloud providers, with AWS, Microsoft (News - Alert) Azure, and Google Cloud Platform listed as the other key players in this category.

To get a better understanding of where IBM sees itself fitting into the cloud mix today and going forward, Cloud Computing Magazine recently interviewed Frank DeGilio, IBM distinguished engineer and chief architect for Cloud.

IBM Cloud, DeGilio said, is the overarching term big blue uses to describe its cloud strategy. Both IBM Bluemix and SoftLayer (News - Alert) sit under the IBM Cloud umbrella.


SoftLayer is IBM’s cloud infrastructure as a service company, which it purchased for $2 billion back in 2013.

Gartner said that IBM purchased SoftLayer to give it a data center platform that could support public and private infrastructure as a service, platform as a service, and software as a service. The research and consulting firm also noted SoftLayer’s track record as a dedicated hosting provider and delivering a wide range of bare metal cloud server offerings.

“SoftLayer offers both multitenant and single-tenant Citrix (News - Alert)-XenServer-virtualized compute (virtual servers),” Gartner said. “It also offers, as part of its cloud, paid-by-the-hour non-virtualized dedicated servers (bare metal servers). It has OpenStack-based object storage with an integrated CDN (via a partnership with Verizon Digital Media Services, formerly EdgeCast).”

Gartner added that SoftLayer's primary business is non-cloud offerings, such as paid-by-the-month dedicated servers and hosted appliances, “but it does not make a clear distinction between these offerings and its cloud IaaS capabilities.”


But DeGilio said the cloud is more than just IaaS.

That’s why IBM introduced Bluemix a couple of years ago. Bluemix, explained DeGilio, is like a mall that lets users build a storefront in the mall, or a canvas and a palette of communications and IT resources that developers can employ to tie together with simple code and quickly build an application. While AWS and Google (News - Alert) require customers to rewrite applications to work in their clouds, IBM delivers the tools to more easily transport them to the cloud. Bluemix also provides a secure connection.

Bluemix Garage, meanwhile, helps clients use agile development models and practices to start building new born-in-the cloud applications that are connected to traditional environments.

“The idea is to take both worlds and build them together in a hybrid,” DeGilio said.

“My goal is to allow a business to have an idea in the morning and to get it into production that same day,” he added.

IBM is very focused on helping its customers move their existing environments to the private cloud, said DeGilio, because some businesses are really struggling to move to the cloud. Businesses over the last 50 years have been building applications, such as call centers and CRM solutions, that live internally, he noted. IBM is helping them transport those applications so they can benefit from the cloud, he said.

At the same time, IBM is assisting organizations to address new requirements, such as those related to the Affordable Care Act, which has led some B2B providers to have to reach out directly to consumers on their mobile phones. As a result, he explained, internal services need to be broken up and configured in new ways.

Because IBM has been working with businesses on their communications needs for the last 100 years, DeGilio said, it is intimately familiar with how those businesses work and how their applications and assets can best be turned into services.

“There are many companies out there that understand IT from the traditional model, but don’t have a lot of cloud experience” or that have cloud experience only, he said. “What we have is both.”

Edited by Alicia Young
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