IBM really wants to be your multicloud integrator and can win

IBM is acquiring its way to be a multicloud manager and control plane. It has a good shot. Here's why,
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

IBM has gone on a shopping spree of companies that manage cloud deployments that span across Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud.

The upshot here is that IBM is aiming to be the Switzerland of multicloud. With Red Hat and open source, IBM can run your hybrid cloud and with newly acquired assets it'll have a crew of consultants to be a cloud connector.

Multicloud is a big trend in cloud computing as enterprises want to be able to move workloads around to any provider. Traditional data center players are in the mix to be the point guards of multicloud efforts and even hyperscalers have offerings to manage rival clouds. Multicloud is both a selling point and an aspirational goal for enterprises. Companies are well aware of vendor lock-in and want to abstract their applications so they can be moved across clouds. 

Also: Multi-Cloud: Everything you need to know about the biggest trend in cloud computing | Multicloud deployments become go-to strategy as AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud grab wallet share

Recent moves by IBM include:

Those recent deals come as IBM has previously acquired Workday and Salesforce consulting firms. Meanwhile, IBM is spinning off its managed services unit to focus solely on hybrid multicloud.

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The big question is whether IBM can be that control plane for the cloud. My initial take is that IBM has a strong shot to be that multicloud manager. Here's why:

  1. IBM has a long history of global services and being able to implement technologies from multiple vendors including rivals. IBM has a history of being a neutral services player and that'll pay off as enterprises use multiple clouds.
  2. The addition of Red Hat gives IBM a platform to manage internal data centers and hybrid clouds with open source systems. Enterprises appear to be more into allowing a traditional vendor to manage hyperscale clouds as well as their own infrastructure.
  3. It's unlikely that hyperscale cloud providers are going to integrate well on their own so you'll need a trusted vendor to sit in the middle. That position has historically been occupied by IBM as well as players such as Accenture.
  4. IBM is following the technology money flows. Recent research from Flexera found that budgets are going to AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud at the expense of traditional enterprise vendors including IBM. 
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