IBM bolstered its cloud presence with updates supporting the migration into and the management of data into its cloud platform. The moves come on the heels of the company’s $34 billion bet on its hybrid cloud ambitions by acquiring Red Hat.
The migration aspect of its latest update comes from new automation features for its Cloud Migration Factory platform. The new features include deep insight algorithms that tap into past migration and modernization efforts. These are designed to improve planning accuracy and reduce migration risks by uncovering potential challenges earlier in the process.
That platform is targeted at helping enterprises move applications to a cloud environment. This move can include the need for re-hosting, re-platforming, re-architecting, and the modernization of those legacy applications into a cloud native package like containers.
IBM last year joined a similar push by Docker Inc. and its Modernize Traditional Application (MTA) program. That program uses automated tooling to containerize existing applications without touching source code or re-architecting the app. It then allows IT departments to use the Docker Container-as-a-Service (CaaS) and Enterprise Edition (EE) products in migrating the now-containerized apps onto a hybrid cloud environment.
Once in the cloud, IBM’s Multicloud Management Platform now has access to ServiceNow’s IT Service Management and IT Operations Management products.
That IBM platform allows organizations to modernize Kubernetes applications across different cloud environments. They can then use the platform to manage, move, and integrate those applications in a multi-cloud environment. While the company says it’s “optimized for IBM Cloud,” it also supports other cloud environments like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Red Hat.
With the ServiceNow addition, the management platform can deal with agile application development for managing cloud lifecycle and business resources; management of heterogeneous cloud environments; provide for a common buying experience across cloud environments; and visibility into multi-cloud operations.
A recent IDC report ranked IBM No. 3 in the cloud system management software market behind VMware and Microsoft. The research firm reported that IBM had a 9.2 percent share of the $4 billion market at the end of 2017.
ServiceNow scored a 2.7 percent market share in that report, though IDC did single out the company – alongside Oracle – as having showed “significant growth, serving customers seeking unified, fully functioning SaaS-based cloud management platforms.”
Jim Comfort, general manager for IBM’s hybrid cloud service, explained that the IBM approach to simplifying cloud management goes through three motions. The first is modernizing the existing estate, which he said was dominated by VMware.
The second was modernizing the new application styles that he tied to the containers, Docker, and Kubernetes ecosystem. This is also independent of whether those applications are running in a public, private, or hybrid cloud environment.
The third was consolidating management of public cloud consumption that usually involves a number of managed as-a-service models.
“Clients are going to do some combination of all three,” Comfort said. “It’s the process of starting down this whole cloud native and container journey and consume external sources. Does a client want three management systems for those three steps or do they want one.”
Edwin Yuen, senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, said that while these are strong moves by IBM, the open question remained in how it will fit them all together.
“We see how the ServiceNow partnership works with the Multicloud Manager, as [IBM’s IT Service Management] was not part of the IBM solution, but how tied into the IBM solutions will the Cloud Factory be?” Yuen questioned in an email. “I think all these moves are the right ones that IBM needs to make but the key is integration of all these components with recommendations in specific use cases so that customers know what they should do with IBM Cloud, not just what they could do with IBM cloud.”
There is also the question as to how these moves will play next to IBM’s recent $34 billion plan to acquire Red Hat. That deal has been heavily linked to Red Hat’s OpenShift platform that taps into the Kubernetes ecosystem to support container deployments.
“I see these moves by IBM, from the Red Hat deal to the Multicloud Manager to these announcements, as essentially filling in the hybrid/on-premises portfolio that they were missing in their cloud story,” Yuen added. “IBM has been strongly focused on the public cloud side, but so much of IT is still based in the on-premises world and even with migration will still continue to be a factor. IBM needs to build up its hybrid capabilities to keep pace with Microsoft, Oracle, and the AWS/VMware partnership.”
Synergy Research Group had IBM as No. 3 in market share for cloud infrastructure services at the end of the third quarter. That put it well behind market heavyweights AWS and Microsoft Azure, but just ahead of Google and Alibaba. However, those SRG numbers also showed that IBM was the only player in the top five to have actually lost market share over the past year.
IBM recently reported that its cloud business scored a 22 percent year over year increase in revenues for its fiscal third quarter. IBM CFO James Kavanaugh cited the firm’s hybrid cloud business as driving that growth.