In yet another move to broaden its position in the cloud space, IBM announced Monday the launch of a new cloud marketplace. The marketplace will feature cloud services from Big Blue as well as third-party providers.
The marketplace was unveiled at the company's Impact 2014 conference, now taking place in Las Vegas. The move to the cloud is part of IBM's strategy to be less dependent on declining hardware sales, as the cloud becomes a major component for nearly every business. Industry research firm Gartner has predicted eight out of every 10 businesses will use some kind of cloud services by the end of this year. Last year, IBM had more than $4 billion in revenue from cloud-related products and services.
Piece by piece, IBM has been building up its cloud capabilities. It now offers BlueMix platform-as-a-service for software development, SoftLayer for infrastructure services, and it has been a major backer of OpenStack cloud networking software.
Hundreds of Services
Earlier this month, it bought cloud marketing platform Silverpop, and in February it acquired database-as-a-service provider Cloudant. Last week, IBM said it would be launching various initiatives designed to make it easer and more profitable for the company's business partners to develop, market and sell SoftLayer-based cloud services to their customers.
In January, IBM made known it was investing more than a billion dollars to beef up its cloud computing infrastructure by building new data centers in the U.K., the U.S., Canada, Mexio, India, Japan, China, Africa and the Middle East during 2014 and next year. By the end of this year, the company is expected to have more than 40 data centers worldwide.
At launch, the cloud marketplace will feature hundreds of cloud-based services from such third-party vendors as SendGrid, Zend, MongoDB, Sonian, Flow Search Corp, and Upstream. Thirty of the services from IBM and partners are new, in such areas as big data analytics.
For IBM, this direct online marketplace approach differs from its usual sales through sales channels, and is being compared to Salesforce-related products and services in that company's App Exchange, Android apps in Google Play or iOS apps in Apple's App Store.
'Putting the Pieces Together'
Laura DiDio, an analyst with industry research firm Information Technology Intelligence Corp, told us that IBM is doing more than simply making available developer tools or individual apps. Instead, she said, they are providing and "building specific apps for line of businesses, for finance, human resources, accounting," and other areas.
The marketplace, she said, represents "IBM saying 'we've been putting the pieces together, have BlueMix and SoftLayer," and now businesses can find integrated cloud services in one place.
Some observers, including Forbes magazine, have noted that the IBM marketplace will only be accepting products that can run on SoftLayer, which rules out the many services that run on Amazon Web Services or other infrastructures. The key question is whether enough vendors will be prepared to port their offering to IBM's platform, until IBM has built up a large userbase for the marketplace.