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IBM's PaaS Roadmap Centers Around SoftLayer

IBM pulled out all the stops this week to convince the IT world that it's transforming its entire business into a cloud company where all its hardware and software will be consumable as a service.

Big Blue used its annual Pulse conference in Las Vegas to outline to the 11,000 attendees how it will fill the gaps in its current cloud portfolio. Much of that effort centers around last year's $2 billion acquisition of SoftLayer, which operates a large global Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) public cloud. At last year's Pulse conference, IBM made a big push around OpenStack, saying the open source cloud IaaS platform would be the basis of its entire cloud infrastructure offerings, including its SmartCloud public IaaS.

Recognizing it needed a more substantial public IaaS than the SmartCloud it was building out, IBM months later acquired SoftLayer, which is now the core of Big Blue's public and private cloud strategy overall. While it offers the IaaS needed to provide compute, storage and networking as a service, IBM spelled out how SoftLayer will offer PaaS and SaaS on-demand applications and API services.

The unofficial buzz at Pulse was that SoftLayer founder and CEO Lance Crosby and his team now have the run of the house at IBM, so to speak. That was evident in everything the company talked about. Here are some of the numerous announcements at Pulse:

  • Application Services: Building on top of the SoftLayer IaaS, IBM will build PaaS and SaaS offerings using CloudFoundry as its underpinning. As I reported earlier this week, IBM is a founding member of the new CloudFoundry foundation that Pivotal is spinning off (other members include Pivotal parent EMC, and its offspring VMware, along with Hewlett-Packard, Rackspace and SAP).

  • BlueMix: To enable the PaaS capabilities in IBM's SoftLayer cloud, IBM launched BlueMix, which the company describes as orchestration software that enables dev-ops management of cloud infrastructure and applications. Designed to run on CloudFoundry public and private clouds, BlueMix will allow for rapid development of what IBM touts as "composable services." These services are API-based, IBM officials emphasized. The beta is available for download now.

  • Database as a Service: Looking to offer database as a service for cloud and mobile apps, IBM realized its DB2 and Informix databases wouldn't cut it for many of today's modern apps. So the company said it has acquired Cloudant, a leading NoSQL database platform. Cloudant conveniently runs on the SoftLayer network. Because it handles all data as JSON documents, IBM said it will appeal to developers who don't have database programming experience and need to build Web-scale applications.

  • Middleware to the Cloud: IBM will offer its key middleware offerings, specifically its WebSphere portfolio, as a service in the SoftLayer cloud. The company said there are 200 middleware patterns available from IBM and its partners.

  • Systems Management as a Service: The company is extending its systems management tools to enable IT pros to optimize and manage workloads and applications both on-prem and in the cloud.

  • Power on SoftLayer: Like most of the large cloud service providers, SoftLayer is based on x86 servers. Looking to provide higher levels of performance for high-performance scale computing, the company will offer its Power platform running Linux, as well. In addition to offering bare-metal servers, IBM will offer various solutions on Power running in the cloud, including several based on its artificially-intelligent computer platform Watson. Later in the year, IBM will also offer its DB2 BLU database and Cognos analytics solutions running on Power on SoftLayer.

Much of the attention centered around BlueMix, which will be the key enabler of moving traditional software to utility computing and application services, said Robert LeBlanc, senior VP for middleware in the IBM Software Group.

"BlueMix is really focused at the enterprise with a pre-integrated set of services to enable clients to build out the next generation of applications that combine systems of engagement and systems of record, all based on an open platform and a set of capabilities we're now moving as a service," LeBlanc explained. "We have shifted a lot of our technologists and our people to these new areas of opportunities."

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 02/27/2014 at 5:13 PM


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