IBM Challenges Amazon Web Services to a Cloud Duel

IBM launches an aggressive marketing campaign claiming superiority over Amazon Web Services in the cloud space.

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.