IBM Targets Microsoft's Azure With BlueMix PaaS

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2014-05-21 Print this article Print
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"The adoption rate of BlueMix has been nothing short of phenomenal since being announced only a few short weeks ago," said Steve Robinson, general manager of IBM Cloud Platform Services, in a statement.

Earlier this year, IBM pledged to commit $1.2 billion to significantly expand its global cloud footprint, beefing up its SoftLayer infrastructure and other components. Big Blue said the investment includes a network of cloud centers designed to bring clients greater flexibility, transparency and control over how they manage their data, run their business and deploy their IT operations locally in the cloud.

In 2014, IBM plans to deliver cloud services from 40 data centers worldwide in 13 countries and five continents globally, including North America, South America, Europe, Asia and Australia. Among the newest IBM cloud centers to launch are Washington, D.C., Hong Kong, London, Toronto, Japan, India, China, Canada, Mexico and Dallas.

"Our focus is to bring others to the fact of who is the leader in the cloud," said Ric Telford, vice president of IBM Cloud Services, in a comment from last November.

Subsequently, in a commentary on PaaS, Telford said, “Many companies have converged on this space, coming up from the IaaS layer (Amazon's Relational Database Service or Elastic Beanstalk), down from the SaaS layer (Salesforce's, or even as a new corporate initiative (Google AppEngine or Microsoft Azure). In addition, there are numerous "pure play" PaaS offerings (like EngineYard) and a whole slew of startups.”

However, Telford warns that one aspect to watch in the PaaS space is the role of open standards and open source. Mills also questions whether Microsoft is up to managing the “chaos” associated with adopting open-source technology into its mix.

“They’ve kind of isolated their open-related activities off to the side,” Mills said of Microsoft. “To play effectively in open source you have to be willing to play in a lot of chaos,” he added.

To its credit, Microsoft has made many incremental moves to adopt more open-source technology into its fold, including launching the Microsoft Open Technologies subsidiary and recently introducing the .NET Foundation at its Build 2014 conference. The goal of the .NET Foundation is to manage the open-sourcing of key components of Microsoft’s .NET platform.

In a conversation at Microsoft's launch of Visual Studio 2013 and Visual studio Online in New York last November, Scott Guthrie, executive vice president of Microsoft's Cloud and Enterprise group, told eWEEK in the cloud space marketing is one thing, but “at the end of the day code talks. And at the end of the day code usually wins. At the end of the day, people are going to use the product that works best.”

Indeed, in his commentary Telford agreed. “Developers will decide. Think early days of Microsoft or today's Android. The PaaS vendors that are most successful in courting and keeping software developers will rise to the top. Don't be surprised if you start seeing some "PaaS-justifying applications" -- compelling SaaS offerings that run only on a particular vendor's PaaS. (For the gamers out there, an analogy is Titanfall for Xbox One.)”

Meanwhile, Mills weighs in on the competition for developer hearts and minds.

“You may be familiar with what we’ve done around developerWorks, which is one of the most popular developer sites on the Web,” he said. “Our level of popularity over the years has rivaled MSDN [Microsoft Developer Network] as far as number of developers, number of visits and amount of activity. If you look at MSDN and developerWorks, those two things together far exceed any of the newer things that are materializing here in the industry.”

The full transcript of eWEEK's interview with IBM's Mills is available on the eWEEK Website.


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