I’m back in Las Vegas for IBM’s Pulse Cloud Conference where the weather is better with apparently 11,000 people who are all into cloud and IBM. This is my fourth industry conference in the past year focused on cloud software – the others were AWS re:Invent, OpenStack Summit, and VMworld. The size of these software events keeps getting bigger, though they all seem to attract slightly different crowds. As you’d imagine, this one has a lot of more mature people with a lot of suits in the mix. I consider this a good thing because it smells like the enterprise is taking cloud seriously and IBM is positioning themselves. Plus IBM is not catering to IT like many of the other providers – but is instead focusing on the lines of business and developers, trying to bring all three together to improve business agility. How are they doing that? Here are a few tidbits:
- The acquisition of SoftLayer ($2+B) and committing to building 15 new data centers with another $1.2B investment bringing their cloud data center count up to 40 globally gives the enterprise a global and scalable cloud provider with high performance instances delivered on Bare Metal.
- IBM just announced that they acquired Cloudant, which is a noSQL database built on Couchbase and will be offered as-a-service. Plus Cloudant potentially gives IBM more reach with Cloudant running on AWS, Rackspace, and other CSPs platforms. For the enterprise, they will be able to consume noSQL along with MongoDB, Hadoop, and their own in-memory database plus SAP and Oracle.
- IBM is a major OpenStack contributor and sponsor as well as being determined to deliver cloud services on OpenStack.
- IBM will be extending SoftLayer to manage other CPU designs (namely Power and Z series).
- IBM is a Cloud Foundry contributor and sponsor and now a founding member of the Cloud Foundry Foundation, which was announced today as a spinout from Pivotal. If you consider OpenStack as the open cloud orchestration and management platform, then consider Cloud Foundry Foundation as the open PaaS platform that all the tech vendors and enterprises can contribute to.
- BLueMix was announced today, which is a very rich PaaS offering from IBM built on Cloud Foundry with a service-catalog look and feel that includes a myriad of IBM and third-party services in an app marketplace. To show how easy it is to use, they demo’d a small app being written by a founder from Twilio that pushed SMS to an IBM exec’s phone.
- IBM also announced that they have a strategic direction to provide many of their software product portfolio as-a-service. This already includes systems management, monitoring, ITSM capabilities, and more. IBM currently has over 100 SaaS applications in their portfolio including items like Watson, several analytics options, and business apps like Maximo and Kenexa.
- Third-party software will also be available in IBM’s SaaS marketplace – with Twilio being just one.
What this all means to me is that IBM is serious about cloud with deep software and service capabilities for all the service delivery models. It also means that the enterprise has a lot of choice with IBM that allows them to build and run their cloud apps on-premises in a private cloud, off-prem in a public cloud, as a hybrid offering, or as SaaS usage. The key to their focus is that it is aimed squarely at providing business capabilities and enabling developers in the API connected cloud. Though the crowd was more subdued than at some of the other events, there was a lot to get excited about when it comes to where IBM is headed. It is clear they are invested heavily – not just from a wallet perspective but also from how passionate and engaged they are. This is an IBM I haven’t seen before and I’m looking forward to seeing how they execute and win the hearts and minds of their customers.