With a newly announced partnership with Microsoft, IBM has struck another milestone cloud deal with an industry leader as the company continues to build out its cloud infrastructure and make its mark in the competitive cloud space.
IBM and Microsoft announced that they are working together to provide their respective enterprise software on Microsoft Azure and IBM Cloud. The two IT giants said as adoption of hybrid cloud computing accelerates, this relationship will give clients, partners and developers more choice in the cloud.
Specifically for developers this Microsoft announcement opens the door for millions of .NET developers to join IBM Bluemix — IBM’s Platform as a Service (PaaS) that Big Blue has invested $1 billion. Bluemix is designed to help developers connect enterprise applications and data to the cloud. Under the new agreement, IBM and Microsoft are working together to deliver a Microsoft .NET runtime for IBM’s Bluemix cloud development platform.
Gaining access to the millions of .NET developers could be huge for IBM and its emerging Bluemix platform. The companies will begin with a limited preview offering of .NET operating within Bluemix.
Today approximately 18 percent of developers create cloud-based applications, and that number is expected to rise to 67 percent or 12 million by 2019, according to Evans Research.
Other features of the deal include that IBM and Microsoft will make key IBM middleware such as WebSphere Liberty, MQ and DB2 available on Microsoft Azure; and Windows Server and SQL Server will be offered on IBM Cloud. And to support hybrid cloud deployments, IBM will expand support of its software running on Windows Server Hyper-V, and the companies plan to make IBM Pure Application Service available on Azure.
“Together we are creating new opportunities to drive innovation in hybrid cloud,” said Robert LeBlanc, senior vice president of the Software and Cloud Solutions Group at IBM, in a statement. “This agreement reinforces IBM’s strategy in providing open cloud technology for the enterprise. Clients will now gain unprecedented access to IBM’s leading middleware and will have an even greater level of choice over the tools that they use to build and deploy their cloud environments.”
IBM and Microsoft will make key products within IBM’s enterprise-proven middleware software portfolio, including WebSphere Application Server, WebSphere MQ and DB2 database software, available in the Microsoft Azure Virtual Machines service for development and production deployment.
“Microsoft is committed to helping enterprise customers realize the tremendous benefits of cloud computing across their own systems, partner clouds and Microsoft Azure,” said Scott Guthrie, executive vice president of Cloud and Enterprise at Microsoft, in a statement. “With this agreement more customers will be able to take advantage of the hyper-scale, enterprise performance and hybrid capabilities of Azure.”
The companies will enable customers to bring their own software licenses to the IBM and Microsoft clouds, helping customers avoid extra cost. Microsoft will also offer IBM middleware software licenses, such as WebSphere Liberty, MQ and DB2, to Azure customers with pay-per-use pricing.
The companies also plan to make IBM Pure Application Service available on both Microsoft Azure and IBM SoftLayer for automated deployment, configuration and license management in a hybrid cloud environment. IBM’s SoftLayer Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) platform currently provides and supports a wide range of Microsoft software, including Windows Server, Hyper-V, WebMatrix, Windows Firewall, SQL Server and others.
.NET Developers May Be IBM’s Big Prize in New Cloud Deal With Microsoft
“The deal looks like additional proof — following on Monday’s announcement of Microsoft’s deal with Dell to produce a cloud computing appliance — that the company is ratcheting up its efforts to promote Azure for hybrid cloud computing implementations,” said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT. “Frankly, Microsoft has been behind the curve in this regard so pursuing enterprise-facing partners makes good strategic sense. Working with IBM should help Microsoft ensure that business customers ready for hybrid cloud will be able to access Windows Server, SQL Server and Hyper-V solutions via IBM SoftLayer. The deal also benefits IBM by expanding Microsoft Azure customers’ access to its core middleware offerings — WebSphere, MQ and DB2. Overall, both stand to gain by working harmoniously together.”
The partnership between IBM and Microsoft is just one more example of “coopetition” between industry leaders. Ironically, earlier this year, Steve Mill, senior vice president and group executive for Software & Systems at IBM, told eWEEK he viewed Microsoft’s Azure PaaS as a key competitor in the PaaS space. Now the two are working together.
IBM has been partnering with companies across the industry in the cloud. In addition to Microsoft, IBM has struck partnerships with a number of industry leaders including SAP, Intel, CSC and AT&T among others to capitalize on the emergence of hybrid cloud for the enterprise.
Meanwhile, during Microsoft’s own Azure cloud announcement on Oct. 20, Guthrie said Microsoft’s view is that there are only three companies capable of delivering cloud computing to the enterprise at scale on an ongoing basis: Microsoft, Amazon Web Services and Google. No mention of IBM.
“Guthrie’s comment seems shortsighted to me,” King said. “The way IBM’s cloud solutions are gaining market traction, particularly among enterprise customers supports that. But the company recently entered into other significant cloud partnerships, including agreements with SAP and Ingram Micro. Finally, I think it’s important to remember that we’re still in early days in how and where businesses are adopting cloud. Suggesting that Microsoft, Google and Amazon are the obvious winners is like calling a race when the horses have just hit the first turn.”
IBM also had a bit to say on the matter.
“The investments that IBM has made in cloud computing and the corresponding results speak for themselves,” Michael Curry, IBM’s vice president of WebSphere software, told eWEEK. “In the last year and a half, IBM placed a big bet on SoftLayer and has since made it the foundation of our expansive cloud portfolio; we announced a $1.2 billion investment to build 15 new data centers, bringing our global reach to 40 cloud data centers in 15 countries and every major financial market around the world; we invested $1 billion in launching a new Watson Business unit with Watson running on SoftLayer; we invested $1 billion to build an open-standards based platform-as-a-service with Bluemix; we launched the IBM cloud marketplace to deliver a simple and easy cloud buying experience for the enterprise and we have launched numerous new SaaS applications.”
Moreover, IBM thoroughly understands the needs of its enterprise customer base and has invested heavily in expanding its SoftLayer cloud infrastructure to facilitate those transitions, King noted. “There’s also proof that its approach is working,” he said. “On Monday, during what was a pretty disappointing earnings call, IBM noted that its overall cloud revenues had grown 50 percent over the past year and that cloud services – SoftLayer — were up 80 percent with a $3.1 billion run rate.”