IBM SoftLayer, versus Amazon or versus Rackspace?

Near the beginning of July, IBM shut its acquisition of SoftLayer (which I discussed in a previous article). A little over 3 months have passed since then, and IBM has announced the enhancement of more than 1,500 consumers, the elimination of SmartCloud Venture (SCE, IBM’s cloud IaaS offering), and also took place the offensive against Amazon in a marketing campaign (analyzed in my associate Doug Toombs’s post). So what does this all suggest for IBM’s leads in cloud facilities?

IBM is certainly a strong brand with deep consumer relationships– it exerts a magnetism for its customers that rivals like HP and Dell don’t come anywhere close to matching. Despite having all of the weak points of the SCE offering, here at Gartner, we still saw customers select the solution just since it was from IBM– also when the consumers would honestly acknowledge that they located the system lacking and also it didn’t truly fulfill their requirements.

In the months given that the SoftLayer acquisition has closed, we’ve seen this “we utilize IBM for whatever by preference” fad continue. It certainly assists greatly that SoftLayer is a much more engaging service than SCE, but customers remain to recognize that they don’t always feel they’re buying the most effective service or the most effective innovation, yet they are getting something that is good enough from a vendor that they trust. Additionally, they are obtaining it now; IBM has actually displayed unbelievable agility and a level of aggressiveness that I’ve never seen before. It’s impressive exactly how promptly IBM has jump-started the pipe this very early into the acquisition, as well as IBM’s strengths in sales and advertising and marketing are giving SoftLayer inroads right into a mid-market and also business consumer base that it had not been able to target previously.

SoftLayer has actually constantly competed to some extent against AWS (philosophically, both companies have an extreme focus on automation, as well as SoftLayer’s bare-metal style is ideal for sure types of usage situations), and IBM SoftLayer will also. In the IBM SoftLayer deals we have actually seen in the last couple of months, however, their competition isn’t really Amazon Web Solutions (AWS). AWS is commonly under consideration, however the actual rival is far more likely to be Rackspace– devoted web servers (perhaps with a hybrid cloud design) and handled solutions.

IBM’s strategy is in fact a distinctly various one from the various other carriers in the cloud facilities market. SoftLayer’s company is overwhelmingly committed organizing– mainly small-business customers with 1 or 2 bare-metal web servers (a cost-sensitive, high-churn service), though they had some clients with large numbers of bare-metal servers (video gaming, consumer-facing internet sites, and so forth). It additionally offers cloud IaaS, called CloudLayer, with by-and-hour VMs and also tiny bare-metal servers, however this is a reasonably local business (AWS has specific consumers that are larger than the whole of CloudLayer). SoftLayer’s copyright is concentrated on being truly, really efficient promptly provisioning hardware in a completely automated method.

IBM has made a decision to do something highly uncommon– to capitalize on SoftLayer’s bare-metal strengths, and to highly minimize virtualization and the role of the cloud monitoring platform (CMP). If you desire a CMP– OpenStack, CloudStack, vCloud Director, and so on– on SoftLayer, there’s a very easy means to set up the software program on bare metal. If you desire it updated, maintained, etc., you’ll either have to do it yourself, or you require to acquire with IBM for handled solutions. If you do that, you’re not buying cloud IaaS; you’re renting equipment as well as CMP software program, and also building your own personal cloud.

While IBM plans to increase the configuration alternatives offered in CloudLayer (and also therefore the variety of equipment alternatives available by the hour as opposed to by the month), their focus is upon the lower-level facilities constructs. This additionally suggests that they intend to stay neutral in the CMP wars. IBM’s outsourcing practice has actually traditionally been pretty pleased to sustain whatever software program you use, and the same largerly uses below– they’re supplying handled solutions for the typical CMPs, anyhow you choose to configure them.

Simply put, while IBM means to proceed its initiative to include OpenStack as a provisioning supervisor in its “Wiser Facilities” items (the department previously known as Tivoli), they are not releasing an OpenStack-based cloud IaaS, changing the existing CloudLayer cloud IaaS system, or the like.

IBM additionally intends to utilize SoftLayer as the underlying equipment platform for the application facilities parts that will certainly be in its Cloud Foundry-based structure for PaaS. It will certainly depend on these components to compete against the higher-level constructs out there (like’s RDS database-as-a-service).

IBM SoftLayer has a strong value proposal for sure use instances, however today their distinct value suggestion is a various one than AWS’s, but a really similar one to Rackspace’s (although I assume Rackspace is mosting likely to welcome DevOps-centric handled services, while IBM seems much more conventional in its strategy). IBM SoftLayer is still an infrastructure-centric tale. I don’t recognize that they’re going to take on the vision and rate of execution presently being shown by AWS, Microsoft, and Google, however eventually, those companies may not be IBM SoftLayer’s main rivals.