IBM Announces Major Expansion of Regional Cloud Services

Clients also will be able to deploy multizone Kubernetes clusters across the availability zones via the IBM Cloud Kubernetes Service.

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IBM, which hardly wants to see AWS continue to control 35 percent of the cloud services market and fast-growing Microsoft Azure surpass the 10 percent mark, has announced a major expansion of its own cloud capabilities.

IBM, which has invested north of $3 billion in its cloud business, is planning to launch 18 new availability zones for the IBM Cloud across North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific.

The new availability zones are located in high demand centers in Europe (Germany and UK), Asia-Pacific (Tokyo and Sydney), and North America (Washington, DC and Dallas, Texas). They will come online in either IBM owned-and-operated data centers or in colocated centers throughout the summer and into the fall.

IBM currently owns about 7 percent of the world cloud services market, ranking behind Azure at about 10 percent and ahead of Google (about 5 percent), depending upon which analyst you prefer.

What's an Availability Zone?

An availability zone is an isolated instance of cloud inside a data center region, with independent power, cooling and networking to strengthen fault tolerance. While IBM Cloud already operates in nearly 60 locations, it now has additional storage capacity and compute capability in these key centers.

Clients also will be able to deploy multizone Kubernetes clusters across the availability zones via the IBM Cloud Kubernetes Service, simplifying how they deploy and manage containerized applications and adding further consistency to their experience.

“We’re increasingly finding that we have to be where our clients reside—we have to meet our customers where their data sits,” Aki Duvver, IBM’s Vice-President of Worldwide Cloud Offering and Product Management, told eWEEK. “Eighty-five percent of our customers’ data sits on-premises today, and much of that data is moving to the cloud over time.

“We have to ensure that we have a good landing spot that is highly resilient, highly redundant and highly available, to be able to move that workload to the cloud.”

Enterprises, especially larger ones, are now building multiple tiers for their IT systems, depending upon customer and new regulatory requirements.

Multi-cloud Deployment Topologies

“We have no confusion about the fact that they are having multi-cloud deployment topology,” Duvver said. “They’re going to have an on-prem environment, a private isolated environment in the public cloud as well as pure public services that they take advantage of. These multi-zone regions are going to give them the capability to deliver and deploy these resilient applications in a public cloud context.”

A lot of this geographical data location is a response to the General Data Protection Regulation, enacted by the European Union on May 25. The regulation requires that enterprises be able to keep and maintain business data within specific data centers inside the home-country boundaries of specific nations—and be able to prove it upon inspection.

Turns out that the GDPR actually is a de facto international data storage and security set of rules, due to the number of multinational businesses that have customers in the 28-nation EU.

“In fact, very early on, IBM stated that the impact would be pretty tremendous on multinationals,” Duvver said. “We have to meet the MNC customers with the data privacy requirements that are in-country. In addition to GDPR, for example, in Germany, we have the federal C5 Attestation, which is around cloud computing compliance controls catalog and information security.

“So all these new regulations have a huge impact on enterprises and industry.”

Large Multi-nationals Migrating Workloads

Duvver said that ExxonMobil, Bausch + Lomb and Westpac are migrating central workloads to the IBM Cloud:

  • ExxonMobil, the largest publicly traded international oil and gas company, has adopted IBM Cloud as the foundation for its Speedpass+T mobile app developed by IBM Services. Speedpass+T is available to motorists at more than 11,000 Exxon and Mobil gas stations across the U.S.
  • Bausch + Lomb, a global eye health and products company, is using IBM Cloud for its next-generation cataract surgical system, Stellaris EliteT. Bausch + Lomb will operate the network out of IBM Cloud data centers in Dallas and Frankfurt, with Frankfurt playing a critical role in helping Bausch + Lomb comply with new GDPR requirements.
  • Westpac, one of Australia's largest banks and financial service providers, has migrated to a secure and dedicated IBM Cloud infrastructure in Australia. This enables Westpac to deploy applications and deliver new customer solutions to market faster while meeting their regulatory controls for data protection and privacy.

    In 2017, IBM said it reported $17.7 billion in cloud-related revenue.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor of Features & Analysis at eWEEK, responsible in large part for the publication's coverage areas. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he...