IBM Targets Microsoft's Azure With BlueMix PaaS

IBM senior executive Steve Mills tells eWEEK IBM has its sights set on Microsoft's Azure Platform as a Service (PaaS) in the new cloud battleground.

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LAS VEGAS -- With its new BlueMix Platform as a Service (PaaS), IBM has targeted Microsoft’s Azure PaaS and is banking on its adherence to openness as an advantage over the software giant now focused on a mobile-first, cloud-first world.

In a series of recent interviews with IBM, the company made official its plans to go head-to-head with Microsoft in the PaaS market, as well as to compete with the likes of Heroku, Engine Yard and a host of others.

Last year IBM made clear its intent to compete with Amazon Web Services (AWS) in the Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) cloud market, even renting ad space on local buses to tout IBM’s cloud expertise during the AWS re:Invent 2013 conference here last November. Now IBM is looking at Azure as the PaaS to beat.

In an interview with Steve Mills, senior vice president and group executive for Software & Systems at IBM, at IBM’s Impact 2014 and with IBM officials at the IBM Edge 2014 conference here, the theme of BlueMix as the PaaS platform of the future resounded.

“When we came up with BlueMix I wasn't staring at AWS, I was staring at Azure,” Mills told eWEEK. “Give Microsoft credit, they are very good at personal computing. They think a lot about the fidelity of the environment… They’re very user sensitive in the way they come at these problems. They’re not all encompassing in the way they think of what people will do and will sacrifice some of the variety and openness and so on in favor of the fidelity of the environment. I don’t think you have to sacrifice the fidelity of the environment for the extensiveness of the environment. We think both can be managed. So I’m paying much more attention to Azure.”

IBM’s BlueMix technology provides composable app creation and deployment capabilities in an open, common environment to reduce complexity. IBM is trying to accelerate the pace at which cloud computing will transform global industries. BlueMix features cloud integration services to enable a secure connection between an organization's public applications and private data; swift, secure and fast connections, via the cloud, between Internet of things and machine-to-machine device to store, query and visualize data; data and analytics as a service to allow the rapid design and scale of applications that turn big data into competitive intelligence; and DevOps services that support the complete developer lifecycle.

Moreover, IBM is leveraging BlueMix's foundation on SoftLayer for this expansion, combining the strength of IBM's middleware software with third-party and open technologies to create an integrated development experience in the cloud. Using an open cloud environment, BlueMix helps both born-on-the-Web and enterprise developers build applications with their choice of tools. With the ability to easily combine a variety of services and APIs from across the industry to compose, test and scale custom applications, developers will be able to cut deployment time from months to minutes.