The Tuesday announcement at the OpenStack Summit in Vancouver comes two years after IBM first declared its intent to go full-on OpenStack. IBM now claims to be the first major cloud player using the open source cloud architecture as the foundation for its three core cloud offerings: public, dedicated server, and private cloud managed services.
IBM’s aggressive push in cloud infrastructure brought in $7.7 billion in revenue last year, topping Amazon’s estimated $6 billion in cloud revenue — although IBM’s cloud revenue includes private cloud hardware sales. Excluding hardware, Amazon held 30 percent of the global cloud infrastructure services market in the last quarter of 2014, versus IBM’s 7 percent, according to Synergy Research Group (see chart below).
Amid fierce pricing competition in the public cloud market, IBM is putting an emphasis on SoftLayer’s developer tools and services, including access to IBM’s Watson analytics engine.
For example, says IBM executive Angel Diaz, video game developers hosted on SoftLayer’s cloud services can use Watson APIs to crunch weather data from the Weather Channel, automatically issuing promotional discounts when inclement weather appears likely to shut schools down.
“The kids are at home, the parents are at home too, you want to get the kids out of your hair so you can get work done!” Diaz, IBM’s vice president of cloud architecture and technology, tells SDxCentral.
IBM has bet heavily on the success of OpenStack, joining the OpenStack Foundation as one of the eight founding platinum members in 2012. The company also says its developers contributed 11 percent of the code for Kilo, OpenStack’s current stable release.
IBM’s strategy hinges on the project’s promise of interoperability and open standards, says Diaz. That strategy holds true up the stack, with IBM’s Bluemix developer platform service built on open source platform-as-a-service Cloud Foundry.
“The next phase of cloud isn’t infrastructure, it’s what you can do with it,” says Diaz. “Amazon had a head start, and hats off to them, but SoftLayer is more than up to competing with Amazon.”