IBM Steadily Building Bluemix as Critical Part of Its Cloud Strategy
"It’s a borderless experience and that was our differentiation in the market. It was bringing the hybrid angle to the enterprise, which was not out there,” Heredia said. IBM’s Relay technology is what enables that. The company’s Relay technology ensures that all cloud environments remain current. Relay can instantly synchronize updates across environments, allowing enterprises to experience the same cloud content and visibility, regardless of location. IBM's Relay 2015 event, which took place last November in New York City, took its name from IBM’s Relay technology. “Relay is one of the very unique technologies IBM is bringing to the cloud discussion,” said Steve Robinson, general manager of Cloud Platform Services for IBM Cloud. Focused on the client and value Heredia said unlike some of the other PaaS options, particularly early on, IBM came in with a focus on the enterprise user’s problems, whereas a lot of competitors were focused on smaller shops that didn’t have enterprise needs.“From the contract to the SLA [Service Level Agreement], to the way it’s priced, to local and dedicated, to the support we provide to the services, to the garages, that whole package was designed so that enterprises could make the journey to the cloud with us.” That enterprise focus paid off early on. James Gardner, CTO of Spigit, a startup and early Bluemix user, said. His shop started out using Heroku, but they experienced challenges because Heroku is largely consumer focused, while Spigit needed a platform built for the enterprise. With Heroku, Spigit couldn't get enterprise customers to sign deals because there were no SLAs. Spigit also wanted to use a PaaS to reduce their operations load, as well as reduce their security profile. Bluemix fit all of that, Gardner said. In addition, the company took advantage of Bluemix’s DevOps capabilities. With Bluemix, IBM has provided a bridge to the cloud for enterprise clients and is enabling new clients to adopt cloud in a way that meets their needs. “We do have a very large set of communities around IBM, from DevOps, to our WebSphere to our developerWorks community, which is millions strong,” Heredia said. “Those communities are plugged into Bluemix and are driving adoption. We’ve also made a conscious decision to embrace other communities.” Diaz said IBM has more than 1 million Bluemix developers and is gaining 20,000 new users each week. He added that Bluemix's catalog of more than 120 services—a significant portion of them driven by IBM's Watson cognitive computing system—is a major, if not the major factor that brings developers to the platform. He referred to it as the "candy store." “Bluemix is a very big deal for IBM both practically and strategically, but I believe that it also represents something more than that—a logical destination for IBM's transformation into a software-driven enterprise IT vendor,” Charles King, principal analyst for Pund-IT. The process began in the late 1990s, King noted, and reached an initial apogee with the company's acquisition of Rational in 2003—a deal that confused some analysts. "After all, what did a company whose revenues were still being driven by hardware sales want with a company focused on software developer tools?" But IBM recognized two things, King said. "The first was that the tens of thousands of developers in its employ could gain significant productivity and other benefits from Rational solutions; and two, that it could substantially monetize those solutions by selling them to enterprise customers employing their own developer corps,” he said. But the advent of Bluemix demonstrates why it was so important for IBM to build up its portfolio of software development tools and services so it could reach a broad population of enterprise developers.
“We did make a very conscious effort to say we’re going after the full spectrum of developers who’ll be able to use this product, but the features that you’ll love in the enterprise are right front and center,” he said.