There are more clouds on the horizon for IBM, in a good way. On Tuesday, the technology giant announced it will buy cloud infrastructure provider SoftLayer Technologies. To handle its increasing cloud services and technology, IBM also said it is forming a Cloud Services division.
Terms of the purchase were not made public. Erich Clementi, senior vice president for IBM Global Technology Services, said in a statement that the acquisition will help IBM "accelerate the build-out of our public cloud infrastructure to give clients the broadest choice of cloud offerings to drive business innovation." The company said the purchase will join SoftLayer's public cloud services with the enterprise-grade reliability, security and openness of IBM's SmartCloud portfolio.
SmartCloud is a group of technologies and services for building secure public, private or hybrid clouds. The offerings include private clouds, Infrastructure-as-a-Service, Platform-as-a-Service, Software-as-a-Service, consulting and implementation.
13 Data Centers
Based in Dallas, SoftLayer has 21,000 customers and 13 centers spread across the U.S., Asia and Europe. The company's services include the ability to buy enterprise cloud services on either dedicated or shared servers so that privacy, security and performance can be tailored to specific needs, and IBM said the SoftLayer purchase will help accelerate its ability to integrate public and private clouds for clients.
From SoftLayer's point-of-view, CEO Lance Crosby told news media that becoming part of IBM will expand his company's global footprint and "allow us to go deep into the large-enterprise market."
IBM's annual revenue from cloud services and software is expected to reach $7 billion by the end of 2015. Its SaaS solutions include those for marketing, procurement, e-commerce, customer service, human resources and other areas, as well as more specialized cloud-based services, such as the Watson supercomputer-powered Client Engagement Advisor for Big Data analysis that assists in customer service, marketing and sales.
The new Cloud Services division will combine SoftLayer with SmartCloud to create a global platform, with OpenStack capabilities being added to SoftLayer.
In March, IBM announced that all its cloud software and services would henceforth be based on the OpenStack platform and other open-source cloud standards. The company's commitment to specific open standards in the past has helped it gain acceptance in enterprises, such as for Linux.
Laura DiDio, an analyst with Information Technology Intelligence Consulting, told us that, in the current environment of cloud computing, vendors who "stand still for even a month are at risk of falling behind."
With the SoftLayer purchase, she said, "IBM is trying to fill in the pieces of its product puzzle," adding not only SoftLayer's significant global infrastructure but also SoftLayer's diverse client list, which includes such non-IBM-like clients as gaming companies.
This is like "IBM is playing the game of Monopoly," DiDio said, "and it has just bought one of the utilities."