It certainly is an exciting time in the cloud landscape, with all the major vendors starting their summer show season and making their major announcements. At first glance, it can be a confusing world, with all the vendors giving similar messaging and along with it, promoting extremely similar features and functions.
One of the prime differences between the cloud vendors is how they are reaching out to and marketing at enterprise customers. For the "new," cloud-born vendors, much of their work started either with consumer applications or by getting new, emerging companies to use their services. Great examples of this would be Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google Cloud. AWS certainly has ramped up its enterprise focus over the past two years, with a growing enterprise sales force and new purchasing options. As I noted in my blog about Google Next 2017, Google has made a significant shift with a new go-to-market effort for enterprise customers and new product announcements with a distinct enterprise product set. Both of these companies are leveraging their innovations and targeting enterprises with them.
On the other side are traditional vendors, like Microsoft and IBM, who have established enterprise relationships. The traditional vendors have worked hard to bring their cloud capabilities to the forefront, with a distinct focus on what enterprise customers need, both in features/functions, but also in how they purchase and consume them.
At IBM Interconnect 2017, IBM showed that its cloud offerings are focused at the enterprise customer. Rather than spending the time talking about how they are targeting enterprises with new features or functions, IBM impressively rolled out testimonials from large customer after large customer. These customers discussed how they are not just "partnering" with IBM but specifically how they are using unique IBM capabilities, such as Watson Analytics, to drive their business forward. With their customer examples, IBM laid out the key product areas of Watson and IBM Cloud. As opposed to many other cloud vendors, IBM talked not about enterprise capabilities and efforts but about product and solutions designed for specific verticals within enterprises.
IBM clearly knows they have the trust and attention of the enterprise customer base and they are sharpening their focus to provide solutions for their specific needs, even within industry verticals. They talked about how 80% of any big data effort is focused on scrubbing data and only 20% on analyzing and using the data. They talked about how 80% of the world's data is in private hands, not in public search engines. They talked about the need to use more than just machine learning and AI, but the need for cognition to understand your business. Most importantly, IBM showed how they were going to help enterprises use and leverage their data and systems, across the entire IBM product portfolio, from security to hybrid cloud to even digital assistants to help with no code development for applications.
It was an impressive display and IBM has certainly carved out their niche within the modern cloud vendor space. IBM's enterprise focus, from its solutions, products, and research, builds on its traditional strengths but also uses its new refocused company direction to lead it into the future. If enterprises continue to see the value in both IBM's vision as well as its research strengths, we could see a resurgence from IBM to compete with the likes of Amazon, Google, and Microsoft in cloud.