When Will IBM Become a Cloud Leader?

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2015-04-05 Print this article Print
Cloud apps

Moreover, IBM is aiming at other, different areas such as scaling-up its Bluemix PaaS platform to meet the complex needs of enterprise developers, building out its network of data centers to support customers across the globe, developing new industry-specific solutions and services, and working with a growing number of partners, like Twitter and The Weather Company, to develop analytics services that can be delivered to businesses via IBM Cloud, King said.

"So from a market-share standpoint, you could say that IBM certainly trails companies like Amazon and Microsoft," he said. "But I'd argue that the company's deep understanding of its enterprise clients makes its existing position highly defensible and thus allowing it to focus its efforts on areas where it believes cloud is going toward. I believe that focus on the future is what denotes a true leader, not something as fragile and changeable as market numbers."

IBM's alliance with The Weather Company is a key win—the kind of win Big Blue will need to reproduce to become recognized as a true leader in the cloud. IBM and The Weather Company recently announced a global strategic alliance to integrate real-time weather insights into business to improve operational performance and decision-making for enterprises. As part of the partnership, The Weather Company, will shift its massive weather data services platform to the IBM Cloud and integrate its data with IBM analytics and cloud services. In short, it appears the move stems from IBM's ability to help the weather company more effectively sell its data—and more of it—as a service.

However, The Weather Company was quick to note that although it is partnering with IBM and moving some services to the IBM Cloud, it is not migrating all of its services off AWS, which has hosted the weather organization's apps up to now.

"The reports around a complete migration off of AWS were not accurate," Bryson Koehler, executive vice president and CIO of The Weather Company, said in a statement on March 31, when news of his company's deal with IBM broke. "I, and The Weather Company, continue to believe in a multi-cloud architecture that allows us to manage workloads across multiple cloud providers. Our partnership announcements today are in addition to our long-standing and strong partnership with AWS."

Still, The Weather Company is a major win for IBM and signals more to come, as it highlights IBM's strength in analytics and the Internet of things as key components in IBM gaining the business. AWS cannot deliver the kind of analytics and IoT services that IBM can, nor does it have the army of experts or level of investment in those areas.

IBM just announced a new IoT business unit it pledged to invest $3 billion in over the next four years, and the company is tapping more than 2,000 IBM consultants, researchers and developers to support the new IoT initiative. In addition, IBM has a solid portfolio of analytics solutions, including nearly 9,000 business analytics consultants and 400 researchers around the world.

IBM will continue to rack up wins in the cloud by exploiting its strengths. Will it be enough to ultimately attain a leadership position? Probably. As King said, it depends on how you look at it.

"A leader in a market is defined in one of two ways, either by market share or technology advancement," said Rob Enderle, a longtime IBM watcher and founder and principal analyst of the Enderle Group. "At their scale, with SoftLayer, IBM could eventually outspend AWS and take market-share leadership. Putting Watson in the cloud and finding a way to make it easier to train could give them tech leadership in plain language intelligent analytics, and expanding the partnership with Apple to provide a version of Siri backed by Watson could do both."


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