In what may have seemed like an eternity, at least in the way time is measured in technology and the cloud space, 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. It seems IBM is not going to settle with the typical as-a-service mode; on the contrary, it seems that it wants to usher itself into the new era with IBM as a Service.

At first glance, this seems like a very natural and expected shift in focus for IBM. However, this shift to the cloud actually represents what could be argued to be the most significant change in IBM’s strategy since the creation of the men in blue sales force back in the 1950s and 1960s. What makes this such a significant change? In my opinion, this shift to the cloud, just like that of most companies that have made the move, is changing the way IBM operates and how it supports and delivers its products and services. With this change, IBM hardware, software, and support services are in fact melding into one complete entity.

Really, there is nothing new and groundbreaking in what IBM is doing. A migration to the cloud is not a status quo type of transformation, in that big changes are required in the way a company does things. It is all part of the cloud migration process. With that said, let’s take a look at how IBM’s cloud is stacking up.

Platform as a Service (PaaS): Last week IBM launched BlueMix, which is designed to be an open cloud platform built on Pivotal’s Cloud Foundry. IBM also made its software suite available on BlueMix. The move makes IBM a player with a platform that would allow developers to avoid vendor lock-in.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): IBM’s $2 billion acquisition of SoftLayer not only made Big Blue more of an IaaS player, but gave the company an opportunity to talk cloud computing with every other word.

Software as a Service (SaaS): IBM’s first efforts in building its cloud computing stack revolved around SaaS. IBM boasts one hundred applications that are available on demand. Big enterprise technology vendors always tout a raw number of SaaS apps, but more often than not the bulk muddles the message relative to a more focused player like Workday or NetSuite.

Database as a Service (DaaS): With the purchase of Cloudant, IBM adds another DaaS option to its lineup. Cloudant’s DaaS allows mobile and Web developers to access mobile data with NoSQL technology. Cloudant will run on SoftLayer and other cloud platforms.

Watson as a Service (WaaS): When IBM formed its Watson business unit, it noted that the cognitive computing technology would be available in a cloud format. Robert Picciano, senior vice president of information and analytics at IBM Software, said that Watson will likely run exclusively on Big Blue’s cloud platforms.

In closing, it appears IBM stack is shaping up nicely. To be honest, I am not quite sure how bringing Watson to the cloud is going to generate enough revenue to make it a completely viable offering. In case you are a little confused as to what exactly Watson as a Service is or what it is about, Watson is the IBM supercomputer learning machine that got its fifteen minutes of fame as a contestant and winning a game of Jeopardy. I am sure IBM has a master plan for the artificial intelligence (AI), but I am struggling to wrap my head around it at the moment. One thing that I did notice is missing from IBM’s starting lineup is analytics. With big data analytics being such a hot item at the moment, I was fully expecting to see Analytics as a Service being part of the lineup. I expect that shortcoming to be fully addressed in the near future, as IBM as a Service sets its sights on the world.

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Steve Beaver (153 Posts)

Stephen Beaver is the co-author of VMware ESX Essentials in the Virtual Data Center and Scripting VMware Power Tools: Automating Virtual Infrastructure Administration as well as being contributing author of Mastering VMware vSphere 4 and How to Cheat at Configuring VMware ESX Server. Stephen is an IT Veteran with over 15 years experience in the industry. Stephen is a moderator on the VMware Communities Forum and was elected vExpert for 2009 and 2010. Stephen can also be seen regularly presenting on different topics at national and international virtualization conferences.

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