While IBM has been in the cloud market for a number of years, the evolution of its technology and strategy has hit rough spots in the past. But things have changed over the past year with a combination of new technology and new positioning. IBM has renamed its cloud from SoftLayer and BlueMix to simply IBM Cloud – a smart move from a branding and clarity perspective.
The New IBM Cloud Architecture
Over the past several years, IBM has rearchitected both its public and private cloud services so that there are common APIs and common foundational components, including Kurbernetes containers and microservices. Integration is at the forefront of the new platforms. Customers who are using the private cloud can migrate workloads to the public cloud and from public to private. For the most part, IBM has architected its cloud offerings to provide portability and interoperability by leveraging the native services of each platform. For example, IBM Cloud Private is based on a software defined infrastructure that takes advantage of existing middleware services already residing within the data center. IBM Cloud Public is designed as a cloud native platform with the same APIs that are offered in IBM Cloud Private. There are a variety of common services across both platforms including Kurbernetes, microservices, DevOps services, data services and the security layer. One exception is that Watson APIs are only native to the public cloud. Customers can access Watson services through the integration between the cloud platforms. IBM is also offering a hosted private cloud for customers who desire the architecture of the public cloud with the privacy and security characteristics of a private cloud.
Focus on Multi-Cloud Management
In addition, IBM has dramatically expanded its multi-cloud management platform. As it has done with the cloud architecture, IBM has made significant changes to the IBM Cloud Automation Management (CAM) platform. The platform is designed to support IBM’s cloud platform as well as a variety of public clouds. At the core of this platform is a service catalog. The catalog allows IT to manage commonly deployed IT services to ensure compliance, consistency, and security based on corporate policy. The IT services in a catalog can include provisioning services, storage services, VM images, authentication services, and business processes.
IBM Cloud Automation Manager (CAM) defines a set of automation templates containing a set of resources and their related attributes to many environments, including VMware clouds, OpenStack, IBM Cloud, Amazon EC2, and Microsoft Azure. IBM supports Terraform templates to support a variety of third party cloud services. Chef is supported as a way to support configuration management.
The Bottom Line
IBM is finally on the right path with its new cloud offerings. Offering a common architecture across public, hosted public, and private clouds is the right approach to support IBM’s customer base. Major business are reluctant to completely move to the public cloud because of a combination of security concerns, data locality, and costs. Creating a platform based on well accepted and emerging standards will serve IBM well. It will help IBM gain traction with developers who may be reluctant to work with a proprietary offering this late in the game. IBM had already taken the step of transforming its middleware services to be cloud native. In addition, IBM has finally put a full court press on its security services that are native to both the public and private cloud offerings. IBM’s biggest challenge will be to gain the attention of emerging ISVs and DevOps professionals.