IBM Invests $1B in PaaS in Quest for Cloud Leadership

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2014-02-24

IBM Invests $1B in PaaS in Quest for Cloud Leadership

LAS VEGAS—IBM pledged to invest $1 billion in a cloud platform as a service (PaaS) to connect enterprise applications and data to the cloud, delivering its time-honored middleware via the cloud.

IBM is opening its middleware to the cloud for the first time. Its middleware is the core of its $26 billion software business that runs core operations and connects vital business processes for major private and public sector organizations worldwide.

In so doing, IBM is creating a massive new market opportunity for itself and millions of developers around the globe. Today, approximately 18 percent of developers create cloud-based applications, but that number is expected to rise to 67 percent, or 12 million, by 2019, according to Evans Research.

IBM does not make $1 billion investments loosely. However, $1 billion seems to be the magic number for signifying that IBM is serious about a particular opportunity. The same figure was used to signal IBM's commitment to Linux (twice), to the cloud, to big data and analytics, and recently to launching a business unit to support IBM's Watson cognitive computing opportunity. Now, IBM is pledging another $1 billion to expand its position in the cloud arena.

At the IBM Pulse 2014 conference here, IBM said it is investing in the new era of hybrid cloud computing, which brings together the cloud and on-premises technologies. Hybrid clouds integrate the systems of engagement—built on social and mobile technologies, where individuals are increasingly engaging with organizations—with systems of record, where massive amounts of data and transactions are processed.

At the IBM PartnerWorld Leadership Conference here earlier this month, IBM CEO Ginny Rometty said the company is focused on three core transformations: data, cloud and systems of engagement to transform the IT industry.

The new $1 billion investment IBM is committing to the cloud is in addition to the $1.2 billion investment Big Blue announced last month to beef up its SoftLayer architecture and enhance the company's overall data center footprint.

Instead, IBM is announcing a new development environment and what the company refers to as an "IBM-as-a-service" solution to help clients and developers speed the adoption of hybrid clouds, which have the potential to usher in a new era of innovation across the enterprise. As part of its initiative, IBM is committing more than $1 billion for software cloud development and is launching new capabilities running on SoftLayer.

IBM is attempting to address three fundamental issues that will help speed the adoption of hybrid clouds: enabling enterprise for the cloud, integrating across enterprise environments and providing an open ecosystem platform for development.

According to Evans Data, there are more than 18 million software developers worldwide, yet less than 25 percent are developing for the cloud today. As the industry moves to the cloud era, millions of developers are looking to access tools and services that will enable them to leverage this fast-emerging opportunity. Moreover, enterprises are looking to innovate and drive value in a new era of hybrid clouds, which link systems of engagement with systems of record.

IBM Invests $1B in PaaS in Quest for Cloud Leadership

"IBM is ushering in a bold new era of innovation by partnering with developers in an open environment to accelerate the emerging world of hybrid cloud computing." said Robert LeBlanc, IBM senior vice president of Software and Cloud Solutions, in a statement. "We are combining the strength of our developer ecosystem with the depth of subject matter expertise in domains such as mobile, big data and DevOps, to build a scalable model that easily spans from a single developer to global teams. Today's news is another significant move in extending true cloud integration—not just to existing data and transaction services but to a new class of emerging applications."

IBM said developers are looking for a dynamic application development environment to support the cloud era. A new development platform should be open and flexible and make it easier for corporate developers and independent companies alike to create applications and connect them to existing computing systems.

Enter IBM BlueMix, an innovative development technology IBM has been working on for some time. In response to these market dynamics, today IBM is announcing three new sets of cloud capabilities.

IBM is opening its extensive enterprise software portfolio to the cloud and is launching an open beta code-named BlueMix, a new PaaS that combines the strength of IBM software and third-party and open technologies. BlueMix provides DevOps in the cloud—an open, integrated development experience that scales. DevOps services help developers, independent firms and enterprise teams get started instantly to quickly and effectively build enterprise applications. DevOps services enable developers to focus on continuously delivering new function by learning from their users.

Meanwhile, IBM also is bringing its middleware portfolio, such as WebSphere, to SoftLayer through predefined software patterns to easily extend existing applications to the cloud. With more than 200 application and middleware patterns available from IBM and IBM business partners, the IBM Software Patterns are differentiated in that they enable application portability across a hybrid cloud environment, providing the flexibility to deploy applications and middleware on-premises or off-premises, simplifying hybrid IT management.

IBM continues to invest in and expand the services running on SoftLayer, including DevOps to provide capabilities to plan, develop, test, deploy and monitor applications; systems management as a service—via Service Engage—extending its systems management solutions to the cloud. And IBM today announced that it is infusing Power Systems into its SoftLayer cloud infrastructure to support Watson solutions.

Service Engage provides IT practitioners with the ability to optimize how they manage mixed workloads—both cloud and on-premises—along with billions of connected devices and business applications across any given organization. The IBM Service Engage solutions are available both as a service hosted on IBM's SoftLayer and as on-premises installed software providing clients with deployment and management choice and flexibility.

For its part, the BlueMix application development environment delivers the speed and flexibility of a PaaS to allow developers to more quickly compose and build enterprise-grade applications for the cloud era by providing access to IBM's vast software portfolio as composable services. It is built on open standards and leverages Cloud Foundry to enable developers to avoid vendor lock-in while using their existing application development assets, tools and skills, which is essential for building hybrid clouds, IBM said.


IBM Invests $1B in PaaS in Quest for Cloud Leadership

As part of BlueMix, IBM is building a lineup of developer services focused on mobile, Web apps, integration, DevOps and data management. In addition, IBM is continuing to make available to developers its suites of business applications as composable API-based services, such as Watson, commerce, security, marketing and others. As an example, using BlueMix, developers can leverage middleware services to build a new sales app that provides retail associates with secure access to inventory management information from systems of record at the time of customer engagement.

Meanwhile, BlueMix DevOps services provide an integrated experience for developers to accelerate time to market and improve quality. DevOps includes services to store and manage code—using the popular Git repository, a built-in Web integrated development environment (IDE), and Eclipse and Visual Studio integrations to let developers use whichever environment they prefer.

DevOps Services enable agile planning and tracking to easily share work and collaborate across team members, as well as application deployment automation to streamline the delivery of new function, mobile quality and performance monitoring to quickly learn and iterate. By integrating across the software delivery lifecycle, DevOps Services help developers move faster from an idea to an application that meets users' needs, IBM said.

In addition, the aforementioned IBM Software Patterns are portable between on-premises and off-premises environments, providing the flexibility to deploy applications and middleware to meet dynamic business requirements. Available through the PureApplication Service on SoftLayer beta, IBM Software Patterns open up new possibilities to simplify common IT processes such as DevOps. IT teams can quickly create off-premises environments in the cloud to complete tasks such as application testing and quality assurance, then transfer the applications back to an on-premises production environment. And developers can create their own patterns—writing them once and deploying them on-premises or off-premises—using IBM tools and services.

For example, Exigen, an IBM client in the insurance industry, has created a pattern for its insurance solution using the IBM Web Application middleware pattern. With the PureApplication Service on SoftLayer, Exigen will provide its clients with the option to develop and run Exigen Insurance Solutions across a hybrid cloud environment, making it easier for them to optimize total costs. Additionally, Toshiba is benefiting from PureApplication Service on SoftLayer—using it as a platform to develop and test traditional Web applications using WebSphere and DB2 software to reduce IT capital expenditures.

Taking advantage of IBM's Power Systems line of servers built for big data demands, SoftLayer will serve as an "on ramp" for clients seeking technologies and tools to help them better capture, understand and leverage increasing volumes of data. Beginning in the second quarter of 2014 and continuing over time, SoftLayer's first service built on Power Systems, as demonstrated at the IBM Pulse conference, will be Watson solutions, including Watson Discovery, Engagement and Case Advisor. Additional planned services include software-as-a-service data services and bare metal infrastructure-as-a-service for clients seeking on-demand access to Power Systems.

Finally, IBM also announced Platform LSF and Platform Symphony software delivered as a service for technical computing and analytics workloads running on SoftLayer.


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