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#IBMWoW: Evolution of the IBM Cloud Platform

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Continuing in the analyst program at IBM World of Watson we got an update on the evolution of IBM’s Cloud Platform from Bill Karpovich. Cloud, he says, is strategic. Vendors must disrupt with cloud or be disrupted by it. Over the last few years, cloud has evolved from efficient public cloud infrastructure to new applications built on hybrid clouds that leverage new and existing assets to a future where processes will be reimagined to leverage new services that are really only available in the cloud. This last step is happening faster than IBM expected and focusing on cognitive, analytics, higher value packaged cloud services etc. Today IBM sees the various types of cloud solution (IaaS, PaaS, SaaS etc) as increasingly less relevant individually – what customers want now is a cloud platform that aggregates and simplifies the consumption of new innovation (whether new hardware, new data or new cognitive capabilities).

IBM is now laser focused on cognitive solutions and cloud platform. IBM Brands, R&D, acquisitions, open source and partners are increasingly centered around building the IBM Cloud Platform. Hundreds of new features being added each quarter as more existing capabilities migrate and new ones are created or acquired.

IBM Bluemix is now the unifying brand for IBM. It supports the layers:

  • Domain and industry solutions built on
  • Developer Services delivered on
  • Infrastructure Services for Compute, Storage and Network delivered on
  • Physical Infrastructure – public, dedicated and local for hybrid clouds.
  • All secured and managed using methods and services

cloudstackIBM sees processors are 8x faster in the last 5 years, networks are 500x faster and storage is 1000x. IBM therefore sees tremendous opportunity for a new level of cloud computing – supercomputing for all. In addition the amount of capability available on Bluemix – the number of APIs, the number of developers – is exploding as a result.

Key elements of this new cloud include data and analytics services as well as Watson and cognitive services. In addition, IBM is trying to develop developer productivity with a choice of approaches with consistency. So bare metal services can be provided, virtual servers, containers, open PaaS environments or “serverless” or event-driven apps. This range of services allows customers to trade control against speed and ease of development as appropriate.

In general IBM is taking an open-first approach throughout this stack. If they can take an open source project, build on it and submit some improvements they will. If not they might donate a chunk of work to create a new project such as Open Whisk.

Increasingly the most pragmatic and practical mode for enterprises is a hybrid cloud strategy. This allows them to leverage data and IT assets that already exist and bring new cloud services as well as moving some existing functionality to the cloud. To support this IBM offers

  • Bluemix Public, multi-tenant on IBM cloud
  • Bluemix Dedicated, single-tenant on IBM Cloud
  • Bluemix Local, single-tenant on Premise

These are designed to create a borderless environment, allowing companies to mix and match. Beyond Bluemix IBM Cloud includes all their SaaS applications as well as some other capabilities like object storage. IBM is also working with VMware to help companies move existing capabilities deployed on VMware onto a new cloud platform with the minimum impact. Similarly working with NetApp for storage.

This unification under the Bluemix brand is a journey, of course, with IBM gradually bringing all of their services under a single brand and with integrated catalog, purchasing, billing, reporting and management. New capabilities continue also to be added and IBM continues to invest in developing a next generation of cloud capabilities. One cloud platform, with data, analytics and other high value cognitive services that is designed for hybrid deployment and is both flexible and enterprise class.

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