With BlueMix, IBM Meets Developers Where They Live

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2014-04-29 Print this article Print

Angel Diaz, IBM's vice president of Open Technology and Cloud Performance Solutions, told eWEEK he was tasked with helping to beef up IBM’s cloud presence as well as to help the company gain a stronger foothold into the open-source, startup culture of the valley. Diaz, who splits time in San Jose and IBM’s Somers, N.Y., offices, said there is nothing better than being in front of the people launching new companies and employing much of the open-source technology IBM contributes to. He said he or members of his team are present at the various user group meetings, meetups and other gatherings of developers for key open-source technologies in the valley.

Under Diaz’s watch, IBM got behind OpenStack and Cloud Foundry, and championed the creation of BlueMix. His group also gave a major thumbs-up on IBM’s plan to acquire SoftLayer last year for a reported $2 billion.

"Cloud Foundry has gained significant traction in the past couple of years, so IBM's choice of it as a platform makes a great deal of sense," said Donnie Berkholz, an analyst with RedMonk. "As that happened, we've seen Cloud Foundry gain broader governance than its previous leadership solely by Pivotal and earlier by VMware, again in line with what I'd expect from IBM. Choosing an open-source PaaS is in line with IBM's selection of OpenStack and, more than a decade ago, Linux, so I see this move as a good one that's clearly been thought through and that is consistent with IBM's philosophy and behavior."

Diaz took over Willy Chiu’s team, Steve Mills, IBM senior vice president and group executive for Software and Systems, told eWEEK. Chiu was the vice president of IBM Cloud Labs. “Willy retired and that team was put in place quite a while ago. That team focuses on cloud. They do some work to help the Watson team on some of the performance tuning. They have some very deep performance expertise. That team gets involved with high-performance transaction processing benchmark scenarios and things of that nature. It’s a team with a very diverse set of skills.”

So the team was already in San Jose, making it a perfect resource to reach out to startups. For instance, Mountain View, Calif.-based WhatsApp is hosted on IBM’s SoftLayer cloud platform.

“I think it was a move of genius by IBM to use the resources they had in Silicon Valley to increase the presence of the company in the area,” said James Governor, co-founder and analyst at RedMonk. “Microsoft also has a presence in the valley, but IBM appears to be more active in its approach to reaching those developers where they live.”

Indeed, Microsoft has a Silicon Valley technology center as well as a Microsoft Research facility in Mountain View. Microsoft also has held its Build developer conference in San Francisco for the last two years to sell out crowds and the company is actively courting Bay Area developers to try the Microsoft Azure Cloud.

“We made a strategic decision to put our first BlueMix Garage in San Francisco and not just in San Francisco, but in that South of Market area where all those entrepreneurs are,” Steve Robinson, general manager of IBM’s Cloud Services Platform, told eWEEK. “We thought about having a developer conference there, but we decided it would be better to have actual feet on the street with a real presence in the community.”


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