LAS VEGAS: For a company that practically invented Not Invented Here — most of IBM’s history could be characterized by Does Not Play Well With Others — Big Blue’s latest cloud and mobility announcements, and the prominent roles played by both customers and partners, reinforce how IT’s still-dominant vendor is changing with the times. CAMS (cloud, analytics, mobile and social) announcements dominated the first day of Impact 2014, IBM’s annual business and IT conference (9,000-plus attendees), as well as its continued focus on the composable business (a new collaboration model between IT, line of business and development teams) and the hybrid cloud.
The conference kicked off with a customer, Tangerine CEO Peter Aceto, who explained how IBM and mobility were transforming the Canadian bank. Business partners and customers continued to play a prominent role throughout the keynotes, briefings and panels that followed.
The product and service announcements included: an enterprise cloud marketplace targeted at three audiences, developers (Dev), IT managers (Ops) and business leaders (Biz); more than 30 new cloud services are available in BlueMix, its Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) to help developers integrate applications and deploy new cloud services; the launch of the first BlueMix Garage (homage to HP?), a physical location where developers, product managers and designers can collaborate with IBM experts to innovate and deliver new cloud apps deployed onto BlueMix; and expansion of the IBM MobileFirst Application Development portfolio, including new industry-specific IBM Ready Apps, and the opening of 18 new IBM MobileFirst studios around the world to help business leaders accelerate mobile initiatives.
In the press conference about the announcements, Robert LeBlanc, SVP, Software & Cloud Solutions, IBM, said the cloud marketplace is not only for IBM and its partners, but also its customers, who may also choose to make their cloud capabilities available to others, for a fee. “It’s one place where you can come, discover, try and in some cases buy….”
Bob Picciano, SVP, Information & Analytics, IBM, said the company has been making a number of developer-related service announcements in recent weeks. It’s “really about empowering the next generation of developers.”
Mobile and cloud go hand in hand, added Marie Wieck, GM, IBM MobileFirst. “The boundaries are really breaking down between those different silos… like cloud… and mobile…”
Cloud, mobility and services figured prominently at Impact, but with celebrating the 50th anniversary of the mainframe and the recent POWER announcements, IBM’s hardware business is still a key part of its product portfolio. “They haven’t figured out how to run software without hardware” said LeBlanc.
IBM has been making a lot of cloud moves recently as it looks to tap into what it calls a $250-billion cloud market opportunity. With barely a third of the year over, the company has already announced: a $1.2 billion investment in SoftLayer; $1 billion in cloud development with the launch of BlueMix; $1 billion in the launch of a new business unit, the Watson Group for cloud-delivered cognitive innovation; and the acquisitions of Aspera, Cloudant and Silverpop, bringing the total to $7 billion invested in 17 cloud acquisitions since 2010.
While the cloud opportunity is huge, so is the competition. Amazon has been engaged in a race-to-the-bottom pricing war with the industry in general, and Microsoft in particular, and now Google and IBM are entering the fray.
Amazon is a formidable competitor, but it doesn’t want to be the integrator while IBM is aggregating everything together, said LeBlanc. “The more time you spend integrating the less time you spend innovating.”
The pieces of IBM’s transformation have been coming together for some time, but a number of key elements debuted this year. The recent POWER CPU platform announcements showcased Big Blue’s increased focus on Linux, partners/customers like Google, and ecosystems like OpenPOWER.
At the end of March, CAMS figured prominently at the annual SHARE conference. Analyst Steve Beaver, The Virtualization Practice, said IBM has been putting the finishing touches on its different acquisitions and the development of the Big Blue Cloud Stack.
“Although IBM seems to be fashionably late to the cloud party, I believe we are going to be seeing the Big Blue Battle Plan presented and executed in the near future. IBM is getting ready to step into the octagon to take on all comers, with its eye on Oracle, HP, Amazon, Microsoft, and VMware.”
At IBM Pulse in early March the company promoted its new journey to the public/hybrid cloud. “This new IBM-as-a-Service paradigm shift necessitates changes in the way IBM engages with potential customers at every level,” noted analyst Jane Clabby, Clabby Analytics.
Pulse 2014 demonstrated that IBM’s focus on the cloud remains crystal clear, said analyst Charles King, Pund-IT. “Rather than playing to whatever group of purists happens to be in ascendancy this week or month, the company is determined to place its customers first and to craft cloud solutions designed to make their work simpler, more effective and more profitable.”
The Fiddly Bits (& Bytes)
IBM Cloud marketplace is a single online destination where technology meets business with hundreds of cloud services from IBM, partners and third party ecosystem.
BlueMix Garage is a physical location where developers, product managers and designers can collaborate with IBM experts to innovate and deliver new cloud apps deployed onto BlueMix. The first location in San Francisco has begun initial projects and will become fully operational in June.
IBM MobileFirst Application Development portfolio additions include industry-specific IBM Ready Apps, and the opening of 18 new IBM MobileFirst studios around the world to help business leaders accelerate mobile initiatives. New mobile offerings include: a range of tools — Worklight, Cloudant and BlueMix technologies and services — for developers to create, deploy and manage mobile apps, on-premise or in the cloud.
DISCLAIMER: I’m down here courtesy of IBM, and they also make up a sizable portion of my investment portfolio, but in spite of these temptations, I did my best to maintain the tattered shreds of my editorial integrity.