IBM launches multi-cloud management tool, continues to emphasise open, AI-driven future

IBM is making a big bet into the multi-cloud game with the launch of a new management tool aimed at integrating workloads from different providers.

The Multicloud Manager tool runs on IBM’s Kubernetes-based Cloud Private platform, and, while being optimised on IBM’s cloud, will allow organisations to manage and integrate workloads from other cloud vendors including Amazon, Microsoft, and Red Hat.

The launch is being supported with findings from a research report, conducted by IBM and Ovum, which found that 85% of companies surveyed were using more than one cloud environment. Despite this, four in five mission-critical workloads were still being run on-premises due to performance and regulatory issues.

Arvind Krishna, senior vice president of IBM hybrid cloud, said that companies were only ’10% to 20%’ into their cloud journeys, moving beyond low-end infrastructure as a service to higher business value.

“Like the rest of IBM’s portfolio, we have always been focused on delivering business value with the cloud,” Krishna said in a published Q&A. “It is not about scale for the sake of scale, but helping clients leverage the cloud to optimise their business, launch new business services rapidly, or enter new markets.

“To accomplish this, companies today want to deploy across multiple cloud environments, regardless of vendor, and today’s announcement is a major breakthrough in accomplishing this,” added Krishna. “It will help unlock the next 80% of business cloud innovation.”

This makes for a particularly interesting announcement when it comes to IBM’s positioning in the long-held ‘cloud wars’ saga. 2018 has seen an upturn in the company’s fortunes; three consecutive quarters of growth following 22 straight quarters of declining revenue is testament to that. Yet IBM seems to have accepted its lot – much as VMware did with its AWS partnership – with regards to cloud infrastructure leadership. In other words: enterprises are going to predominantly be on AWS and Azure, so how can they be helped otherwise?

Speaking to CloudTech back in February, John Considine, IBM general manager for cloud infrastructure services, agreed with this publication’s position that a lot of the ‘cloud wars’ narrative was bluff, bluster and obfuscation. For IBM, Considine explained, the focus was on openness and investment in emerging technologies – indeed, in a recent prediction, analyst firm CCS Insight forecast IBM to be the clear leader in quantum computing.

“Here’s the trick: for us, we are the enterprise cloud,” said Considine at the time. “This investment we’ve made in the technologies, in the underlying infrastructure… [there’s] huge growth this year in our infrastructure both in geographic and capacity expansion, but as well as new features and the rate of delivering new features. These are focused in really providing solutions for enterprises, and then helping them make this transformation.”

This open approach was emphasised again by Krishna. “By taking an open approach to cloud, IBM gives our clients the ability to mix and match their cloud environments based on what they need to accomplish,” he said. “It’s no secret that openness and interoperability are built into the very fabric of IBM’s long history, and we see these capabilities continuing to be a critical factor as we enter into this next phase of cloud and AI.”

So what does this mean for competing vendors in cloud management? As regular readers of this publication will be aware, the space is consolidating. CloudHealth Technologies was snapped up by VMware earlier this year, as well as extending its partnership with fellow management player ParkMyCloud. One company in the crosshairs could be Nutanix. Writing for The Motley Fool, Timothy Green noted IBM’s desire for brand agnosticism going back to the 1990s, as well as Nutanix’s vision to ‘meld private, public and distributed cloud operating environments [to] provide a single point of control.’

You can find out more about IBM Multicloud Manager here.

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