IBM Targets India for Cloud, Mobile Expansion

IBM renewed a cloud outsourcing deal with Vodafone India and also opened its first MobileFirst for iOS Garage in Bengaluru.

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IBM has extended its focus on India with a new multi-million dollar five-year agreement with Vodafone India to manage the company's IT infrastructure and provide support for its applications environment.

Under the deal, an expansion of IBM's relationship with Vodafone India, IBM will launch a new hybrid cloud platform to help the company provide quality telecom service to India's rapidly growing population. Vodafone India will tap IBM Cloud as the foundation for its new IT environment and will rely on IBM consulting services to help the company with its transition to the cloud.

"We are a technology-driven organization and introducing the latest advances is key to delivering the best of experiences to our customers," Vishant Vora, director of Technology & Network at Vodafone India, said in a statement. "Partnering with IBM will help us enhance customer experience with intuitive capabilities and build a cost-optimized, flexible and scalable IT infrastructure."

The reliance on IBM's cloud also is expected to enhance the performance and efficiency of the Vodafone India network. Moreover, as part of its hybrid cloud strategy, Vodafone India will integrate its existing IT resources with private cloud environments. This agreement is the renewal of an outsourcing deal that lapsed this year.

"The new hybrid cloud agreement between IBM and Vodafone India is a natural, evolutionary step forward for the companies which have worked closely together for the past eight years," said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT.

It also is a strong validation for IBM's hybrid cloud strategy, which focuses on easing the way for enterprise customers that prefer to secure some data, applications and business processes in their own on-premises data centers, King said.

"IBM's approach rests on ensuring that its customers, including Vodafone India, can have it both ways, gaining the full advantages of IBM Cloud's resources and expertise on their own terms," he said.

IBM and Vodafone India initially inked a five-year outsourcing agreement in 2007. That deal, worth $600 million, was later extended only to run its course recently. IBM did not give a value of the new contract or provide any specifics regarding financial terms.

"IBM's leading-edge capabilities will help strengthen Vodafone India's vision of delivering differentiated client experiences," Vanitha Narayanan, managing director of IBM India, said in a statement.

IBM's renewed deal with Vodafone India comes on the heels of the company's receiving high marks for its cloud environment from market research firms, including Technology Business Research (TBR), which ranked IBM No.1 in hybrid cloud environments. Also in TBR's semi-annual Cloud Customer Research survey of more than 1,800 enterprises, respondents ranked IBM No. 1 in private cloud and cited the breadth of IBM's cloud portfolio and the company's expertise in cloud migration.

In addition, Synergy Research Group ranked IBM as the third largest cloud infrastructure provider, behind Amazon Web Services and Microsoft, respectively.

IBM Opens MobileFirst for iOS Garage in India

The new agreement with Vodafone India comes just days after IBM announced the opening of its first MobileFirst for iOS Garage in India.

"The new IBM MobileFirst for iOS Garage in India can be seen as analogous to Willie Sutton's famous line about robbing banks, 'because that's where the money is,'" King told eWEEK.

The new facility in Bengaluru builds on the IBM Bluemix Garage concept where developers can gain expertise in building applications using the IBM Bluemix platform-as-a-service technology. The new IBM MobileFirst for iOS Garage will serve as a global development hub for iOS apps, IBM said. The new garage also will interact with existing IBM design locations in Atlanta; Chicago; Cupertino, Calif.; and Toronto, the company said. In addition, IBM also plans to open satellite centers in Brazil, China and Romania.

"With each IBM MobileFirst for iOS client's success, we see the conversation shifting from wanting a single app to cultivating a broader business transformation led by mobile," Mahmoud Naghshineh, general manager of IBM's Apple partnership, said in a statement. "Our global network of MobileFirst for iOS Garages is a key accelerator for our clients and a significant differentiator for IBM."

The MobileFirst for iOS Garage houses 22 teams using a variety of development methods and disciplines, including DevOps, IBM Design Thinking and agile delivery to build high quality iOS apps faster—in months as opposed to weeks, IBM said.

In conjunction with the new garage, IBM also announced Mobile at Scale for iOS, a new offering for customers that want to deliver solutions that include more than three iOS applications.

"With its garage strategy, IBM goes where imaginative, innovative developers are—San Francisco, New York, Toronto, London, etc., and now Bangalore," King said.

The effort also has important implications for IBM's partnership with Apple as that company works to improve its traction in huge and hugely challenging markets, including India, he added.

"Ideally, the new Bengaluru Garage facility will deliver benefits to everyone, including the companies and individuals involved," King said. "That's certainly what IBM is aiming to achieve."