IBM Unifies SoftLayer, Bluemix Cloud Platforms

IBM has unified its SoftLayer infrastructure cloud and its Bluemix platform as a service to give developers a single user interface experience.

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LAS VEGAS—IBM has unified its cloud platform to provide customers with a simplified experience in accessing IBM Cloud assets and to enable developers to be more productive on the platform.

With that in mind, IBM this week delivered an easier, single sign-on experience as the company continues to evolve its cloud as a platform for innovation.

Users increasingly want a way to integrate all of their cloud capabilities into one seamless platform; this includes combining their infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS) into one experience, Quincy Allen, chief marketing officer and director of ecosystem development for IBM Cloud, told eWEEK in an interview at the IBM World of Watson conference here. This is exactly what IBM has done.
Indeed, to meet this demand, IBM has created a unified cloud platform for its customers, allowing them to tap into IBM's infrastructure and platform services through a simplified, single sign-on experience.

Introduced this week, customers can now manage all Bluemix and SoftLayer assets from a single console, use a single ID to log into that single console and be billed with a single invoice.

Customers and developers can now tap into IBM Bluemix to gain a single user interface experience to order and manage app runtimes, services and infrastructure services, Allen said.

"They will also have a single payment method and pay for those services from a consolidated invoice," he said. "The SoftLayer brand will continue to power the new Bluemix platform. What is new is that we now added these infrastructure capabilities to Bluemix in a more seamless way."

Overall, "It's the integration of the experience," Allen said. "If you look at SoftLayer and Bluemix, previously they were separate; now we've integrated the experience. We've always talked about the cloud platform as the best place for productivity for developers—where you can get your integration of IoT [internet of things], data and analytics, etc. So we're bringing those two platforms together from an experience standpoint so that our SoftLayer customers can now experience what we were providing on Bluemix and our Bluemix customers can now experience what we were providing on SoftLayer."

IBM acquired SoftLayer in 2013 for $2 billion. The next year, Big Blue delivered Bluemix, which runs on the SoftLayer infrastructure. When IBM bought it, SoftLayer had 13 data centers in the United States, Asia and Europe to complement IBM's existing cloud infrastructure resources. Now IBM has 48 cloud data centers around the world, opening its most recent one last month in Norway.

At the time of the SoftLayer acquisition, Lance Crosby, founder and former CEO of SoftLayer, said: "SoftLayer has a strong track record with born-on-the-cloud companies, and our move today with IBM will rapidly expand that footprint globally as well as allow us to go deep into the large enterprise market. The compelling opportunity is connecting IBM's geographic reach, industry expertise and IBM's SmartCloud breadth with our innovative technology. Together SoftLayer and IBM expand their reach to new clients—both born-on-the-cloud and born-in-the-enterprise." Crosby resigned from IBM in 2015.

Asked what IBM needs to do to get even more traction for its cloud, Allen said it is a matter of getting the word out.

"We have to get our message heard," he said. "I think the people that we get to try Bluemix see what a superior product we have. I think that those guys that were out of the gate first have an infrastructure game, but the game today is no longer about cheap compute and storage. We think the cloud is moving into another phase where it is going to be about innovation and how you bring innovation to that business process. And how you bring value above that cheap compute and storage."

Bluemix combines the strength of IBM's middleware software with other open services and tools from IBM partners and its developer ecosystem to offer DevOps in the cloud. It features a growing catalog of tools and services in categories such as big data, social, mobile, security, blockchain, Watson cognitive computing and the internet of things for developers to tap into.

"If you think about our platform, the platform is analogous to a plane," Allen said of the IBM Cloud platform. "It's got wings, it's got an engine, you've got control systems, but you need a cockpit. The cockpit is Bluemix. So Bluemix is a place wherein you're going to go to integrate all of those particular functions. That's why when we bring them together—you get the benefits. So SoftLayer customers now will get the benefit of all of that functionality that you have in Bluemix, but they were known for different things. That's why bringing them together you get that common experience."