IBM Acquires Blue Box, Adds OpenStack Expertise

IBM snatches up Blue Box, a provider of OpenStack-based private cloud services, to enhance Big Blue's ability to offer hybrid cloud solutions.

OpenStack logo

When it comes to cloud computing, IBM is on a mission that continued today with the acquisition of Blue Box Group, a Seattle-based managed private cloud provider built on OpenStack.

The move accelerates IBM's open cloud strategy by making it easier for customers to move to data and applications across clouds and adopt hybrid cloud environments, Big Blue officials said. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

Privately held Blue Box provides businesses with a simple, private cloud as a service platform based on OpenStack. Customers benefit from the ability to more easily deploy workloads across hybrid cloud environments. Blue Box has 300 global clients, including Viacom and health care technology company BioIQ.

"IBM is dedicated to helping our clients migrate to the cloud in an open, secure, data rich environment that meet their current and future business needs," said Jim Comfort, general manager of cloud services at IBM, in a statement.

Blue Box helps speed delivery of applications and data through simplified and consistent access to public, dedicated and local cloud infrastructures. It also supports managed infrastructure services across hybrid cloud environments and IBM's Bluemix platform as a service. And it provides a single management tool for OpenStack-based private clouds.

IBM says it is committed to delivering flexible cloud computing models that make it easier for customers to move to data and applications across clouds and meet their needs across public, private and hybrid cloud environments. With Gartner forecasting that 72 percent of enterprises will be pursuing a hybrid cloud strategy this year, it is increasingly important for companies to leverage multiple models while maintaining consistent management across their cloud platforms, the company said.

"The Blue Box acquisition will certainly help IBM expand its cloud offerings and SoftLayer-based services but it also addresses a critical point regarding OpenStack," said Charles King, principal analyst with Pund-IT. "On the cloud side, Blue Box's unique approach to supporting private clouds—installing a company-built & integrated cloud appliance in customers' data centers that the company then manages—is significantly different than other solutions in IBM's cloud/SoftLayer arsenal. But it also complements the company's core strategy emphasizing hybrid cloud for enterprise clients."

The addition of Blue Box will help IBM better enable businesses to integrate their cloud-based applications and on-premises systems into OpenStack-based managed cloud environments. Blue Box also strengthens IBM Cloud's existing OpenStack portfolio, with the introduction of a remotely managed OpenStack offering to provide users with a local cloud and increased visibility, control and security. IBM has 500 developers dedicated to working on open cloud projects.

Moreover, with Blue Box, IBM can provide a public cloudlike experience within a customer's own data center.

"No brand is more respected in IT than IBM," said Blue Box founder and CTO Jesse Proudman. "Blue Box is building a similarly respected brand in OpenStack. Together, we will deliver the technology and products businesses need to give their application developers an agile, responsive infrastructure across public and private clouds. This acquisition signals the beginning of new OpenStack options delivered by IBM. Now is the time to arm customers with more efficient development, delivery and lower cost solutions than they've seen thus far in the market."

IBM plans to continue to support Blue Box clients and enhance their technologies while allowing those organizations to take advantage of the broader IBM portfolio.

However, "On a more practical note, OpenStack is anything but easy to configure and deploy, a point that many believe has inhibited the technology from wide acceptance," King told eWEEK. "But Blue Box's 'OpenStack in a box' approach sidesteps those problems. By configuring OpenStack appliances in-house, then managing them after deployment, the company is effectively allowing customers to gain all the benefits of OpenStack without suffering its inherent challenges or headaches. Overall this seems like a good deal for IBM and its customers that should also preserve Blue Box's core value proposition."