IBM Opening Federal Government-Focused Cloud Data Centers

IBM will open two new cloud data centers to focus specifically on the federal government and its unique security and policy requirements.

IBM cloud data centers

IBM announced it is opening new SoftLayer-based cloud data centers specifically for federal government workloads.

The new data centers will feature IBM’s SoftLayer infrastructure designed to provide greater control and security of data for the U.S. federal government. Moreover, through the new centers and development programs, IBM said it also is opening the market for the SoftLayer ecosystem, enabling business partners to deliver more than 100 applications and services such as security, desktop virtualization and geospatial services directly to government clients.

Located in Dallas, Texas, the first center will come online June 16 and a companion center in Ashburn, Va., will be available this fall, IBM said. The two centers are designed specifically for Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) and Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA), and IBM is completing these certifications requirements. The data centers will initially have capacity for 30,000 servers and a network infrastructure designed to support 2,000 gigabytes per second of connectivity between them.

IBM acquired SoftLayer last year for $2 billion and earlier this year pledged another $1.2 billion to beef up the SoftLayer infrastructure. The new data centers come as part of that $1.2 billion commitment to expand its global cloud operations in all major geographies and financial centers. By the end of 2014, IBM will operate 40 data centers across five continents, and will double SoftLayer cloud capacity. Fifteen new data centers will be added to the existing fleet of 25, in locatons including China, Hong Kong, London, Japan, India, Canada, Mexico City and Dallas.

“Government clients will find the new Softlayer capabilities, delivered via these new centers, are the premier platform for moving mission workloads to the cloud,” said Anne Altman, general manager of IBM’s US Federal division, in a statement. “We’ve designed these centers with government clients' needs in mind, investing in added security features and redundancies to provide a high level of availability. With business partners enabled to deliver cloud solutions via the new Softlayer centers for the federal government, we are fostering an ecosystem of innovation."

IBM also is building a dedicated Security Operations Center for the new federal government data centers to provide added security, availability and incident response capabilities to government clients.

As part of its new federal cloud data center announcement, IBM launched the Bluemix PaaS Acceleration Program for U.S. Federal which is designed to enable an ecosystem of developers around the IBM Bluemix platform as a service (PaaS). The program will launch new education and tools for in-house developers in federal agencies and business partners.

Built on SoftLayer's cloud infrastructure, Bluemix will help federal developers rapidly build, test, scale and manage apps for mobile, social, analytics and more. The PaaS, which is based on Cloud Foundry and open standards, will also enable federal developers the open integration and connections necessary to deploy apps across different systems and legacy infrastructures. In addition to the new tools available, the program will also feature education events, contests, workshops and certification opportunities for federal developers, IBM said.

For its part, IBM said with hybrid and private cloud environments expected to make up 80 percent of federal cloud deployments, according to IDC, SoftLayer is well positioned to help agencies navigate this model. Hybrid clouds offer more security and control while allowing agencies to leverage their existing private cloud investments by integrating on-premise and cloud-based workloads.

The SoftLayer platform can also provide single-tenant or multi-tenant services, giving federal clients the control and transparency they are familiar with, allowing agencies to build to their specific compliance and security needs, IBM said. Agencies also can take advantage of bare metal servers which are dedicated servers providing added control and enhanced performance predictability. Bare metal servers are useful for government workloads focused on high-performance computing (HPC) and advanced analytics such as those used by federal research, health care and academic organizations.

Last October, IBM announced the opening of a new Federal Cloud Innovation Center dedicated to helping federal agencies and other public sector organizations advance the adoption of cloud computing across the government.

The IBM Federal Cloud Innovation Center in Washington, D.C., was built to bring IBM’s cloud computing research efforts closer to federal agencies to develop specialized technologies and methods for building mission-ready clouds, Big Blue officials said.

At its opening, IBM said the center would draw on the cloud computing expertise of more than 500 IBM professionals aligned to the center along with IBM’s global network of more than 37,000 cloud industry experts. These experts include IBM researchers, IT infrastructure architects, software developers and consultants with deep industry knowledge in managing major transformation projects across the federal government as well as implementing cloud solutions.