IBM rebrands as a cloud company, moves $1bn of investments into hybrid play

It’s official. IBM is now a cloud company. Big Blue has announced it is to push $1bn (£597.6m) of its resources and investments into cloud, including a developer-friendly platform as a service (PaaS) offering called BlueMix.

The Armonk giant also revealed it was to push SoftLayer into a variety of new zones, including making Watson available on the platform.

Amidst a plethora of announcements within the billion dollar investment, IBM SVP software and cloud solutions Robert LeBlanc described it as “another significant move in extending true cloud integration.”

“IBM is ushering in a bold new era of innovation by partnering with developers in an open environment to accelerate the emerging world of hybrid cloud computing,” he said. “We are combining the strength of our developer ecosystem with the depth of subject matter expertise to build a scalable model that easily spans from a single developer to global teams.”

BlueMix, the standout product, will provide DevOps in the cloud, and is aimed at both the enterprise and developer market. It is currently in open beta.

Also of interest is the expansion of services running on SoftLayer, the IaaS platform which Big Blue snapped up back in June. Early reports indicated the transition between products was going smoothly, with SoftLayer EMEA general manager Jonathan Wisler telling CloudTech at Apps World Europe there was “validation in [IBM’s] belief in the platform.”

This can be seen as further validation from IBM. The latest update, called IBM Software Patterns, allows IBM to bring its middleware to SoftLayer and also include compatibility with DevOps.

The hybrid cloud is evident in this latest push, yet developers are at the heart of the progression.

Speaking at Mobile World Congress last week, IBM CEO Virginia Rometty challenged developers to create mobile apps that can take advantage of Watson’s technology. With Watson’s analytic capabilities increasingly delivered over the cloud, this is an increasingly enticing proposition.

But as IBM is taking the huge step of moving business from the hardware to the cloud, there are costs which come with it.

A series of job cuts began last week at US IBM shops, including in Arizona, Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Vermont, according to the employee advocacy group Alliance@IBM. As reported by WRALTechWire, IBM is not including ages, titles and number of workers from ‘resource action’ (RA) - in other words, lay-off – documentation.

The mood on the Alliance@IBM board is what anyone would expect. One comment from user johnny2times says it all: “Seen a huge cheerleader get RA’d in Dubuque Friday. I don’t know why some of you continue to drink the Kool-Aid so proudly. He sure wont [sic] be drinking it anymore.”

As reported by InfoWorld’s Bill Snyder, LeBlanc told the New York Times that a cloudy business model was “a little more self service...I don’t need as much SGA [sales, general business, administrative costs].”  

IBM has been ploughing resource into its cloud push over the past year, and this move is the icing on the cake. But as LeBlanc wrote in a blog post: “Like other long-successful companies, we have to change our existing mindset and adapt to a fast-changing environment.”  For those who are relying on Alliance@IBM for their immediate future, however, this would not be what they want to hear.

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