IBM Challenges Amazon Web Services to a Cloud Duel

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2013-11-15

IBM Challenges Amazon Web Services to a Cloud Duel

IBM has Amazon Web Service (AWS) in its sights and is on a mission to stir things up in the cloud computing world.

Ever since closing its acquisition of SoftLayer in July, IBM has been thumping its chest over its new cloud bounty. Big Blue also recently announced it was migrating all of its IBM SmartCloud Enterprise business over to SoftLayer.

SoftLayer accelerates IBM's ability to integrate public and private clouds for its clients, with flexibility that provides deployment options that enable a faster, broader transformation for small, midsize and large businesses with a range of performance and security models.

IBM also touts its championship of open cloud computing and being a leading contributor to OpenStack versus Amazon's proprietary cloud model.

Meanwhile, this week at the AWS re:Invent 2013 conference in Las Vegas, IBM paid for advertising on buses to tout its alleged superiority to the AWS offerings. IBM's aggressive ad campaign came under fire and was mentioned during an AWS keynote at the conference. AWS declined to comment on IBM's marketing.

"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. Amazon has this perception in the market as the leader.

In a conversation at Microsoft's launch of Visual Studio 2013 and Visual studio Online in New York, Scott Guthrie, a corporate vice president in Microsoft's Server and Tools Business division, where he is responsible for Microsoft's Windows Azure cloud platform, told eWEEK his view is that marketing is one thing, "but in the end, code is what matters." Microsoft has been consistently adding significant enterprise capabilities to Windows Azure and is challenging AWS in its own right.

IBM contends that, contrary to reports, it is beating Amazon in the federal space, the enterprise space, and with the addition of SoftLayer, in the Web marketplace. IBM officials claim the IBM Cloud supports 270,000 more Websites than Amazon, hosts 30 percent more Websites than anyone else and supports 24 of the top 25 companies on the Fortune 500. In addition, they said IBM earned more than $1 billion in cloud revenue in the third quarter alone, growing at a 70 percent rate.

However, it is important to note that IBM was dinged by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) over its cloud revenue reporting earlier this year. The company said its reporting was sound.

IBM reported more than $460 million in new cloud services revenue in Q3, including its SoftLayer acquisition and 110-app software-as-a-service (SaaS) portfolio. SoftLayer added more than 1,000 new customers in its first 100 days with IBM to its client base of 22,000, which includes fast-growing companies such as Twitpic, Tumblr, Yelp and SilverSky, many of which are wins over AWS, according to IBM.

Additionally, IBM said it has been winning deals against Amazon in federal government business. One of them included a $1 billion Department of Interior award where Amazon had to enlist services partners to get just one of the seven towers that IBM landed. IBM also transformed the General Services Administration procurement system via the cloud. Other deals were with Housing and Urban Development, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the National Archives and Records Administration, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and just this week, IBM received a $19-million-a-year National Weather Service managed services award for the next three years.


IBM Challenges Amazon Web Services to a Cloud Duel

In a recent report, industry analyst Rob Enderle said IBM will beat AWS because process beats product.

Also, IBM last month announced a patented invention that solves the so-called "noisy neighbor" problem, made famous by Netflix's cloud performance issues using Amazon Web Services. The problem occurs when one cloud customer sharing a virtual machine with another hogs IT resources and bandwidth, causing the other customer's performance to deteriorate.

Moreover, IBM won a Netflix Open Source Software (OSS) Cloud Prize for the best example of an application mash-up. IBM is gloating over the award because it was announced at the AWS re:Invent conference. The award was presented to IBM software architect Andrew Spyker and his team of engineers.

IBM created an interactive application delivered via a mobile experience that acts as a tutorial for using the Netflix OSS services. The application called "Acme Airlines" represents an airline app that operates at "cloud scale," handling an extremely high volume of concurrent requests. In doing so, IBM demonstrated its ability to deliver a highly available and scalable app, built on standards that provide clients with the reliability and flexibility to operate on virtually any cloud platform.

For this sample, IBM delivered code, machine images, documentation and videos that show how a user can bring the system up with the app running in less than two hours instead of days. In addition, this demonstrates IBM's ability to scale to more than a billion requests per day, exceeding the criteria for the Programmable Web Billionaires Club. Among the things that differentiated the IBM application was the fact that it was built on an open cloud environment, enabling it to run across multiple clouds and scaling for mission-critical applications with high availability, a key criterion for Netflix cloud services.

Netflix launched this campaign to tap into an open developer ecosystem to enable cloud service innovation and recognized IBM as a winner because the apps provide a highly available, fault tolerant, cloud native and scalable Web and mobile platform.

As businesses are looking to scale and integrate legacy investments with new cloud environments, having open standards has become critical in driving this integration in hybrid cloud environments. IBM ported the Netflix OSS Cloud Platform to the IBM SoftLayer public cloud, helping build a solution that would allow the advanced cloud platform to be used in the public cloud and on-premise OpenStack platform. IBM also explored the port to OpenStack to further demonstrate IBM's commitment to open standards and cloud portability.

"As with all of our cloud solutions, we are committed to an open standards-based approach because we believe that it is the means to deliver the higher value of the cloud," IBM Fellow and Vice President Jerry Cuomo, said in a statement. "For a cloud environment to scale and manage complex workloads, it requires interoperability to integrate legacy investments with new environments and applications. Innovation within open systems can bring flexibility to consumer cloud services."

Today, IBM has more than 500 developers dedicated to driving innovation around open standards and is bringing that investment in open technology to the cloud through the company's commitment to open cloud platforms, including not only Netflix OSS, but also Cloud Foundry and OpenStack. In taking this approach, IBM and Netflix are demonstrating that cloud computing needs to be built on open standards to scale and manage mission-critical workloads to truly transform businesses.








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