​IBM's latest cloud gambit: Cut sprawl, be Big Blue hybrid centerpiece

IBM unloaded a slew of tools aimed at the hybrid cloud market as it aims to be the centerpiece of it. The company also expanded partnerships and built out SoftLayer capacity.

IBM on Monday launched a series technologies and services that aim to make it easier to move data across clouds and on-premise data centers. Big Blue also committed to devoting half of its cloud developers to creating open services and platforms.

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The latest round launches from IBM mark the beginning of the second year of the company's cloud investment. In 2014, IBM built out its SoftLayer public cloud infrastructure, rolled out a bevy of hybrid data center building blocks and landed more customers. IBM's game plan is to grow its cloud business fast enough to offset other units that are struggling such as hardware.

IBM's plan is to develop a hybrid cloud platform that integrates services in one place as big data will require companies to mix and match computing resources. In IBM's view, the company can be the "common denominator" across clouds. This strategy has become increasingly common among enterprise IT giants. Cisco sees itself as a strong enterprise interconnection point for cloud services. HP has bet on OpenStack like the rest of the industry. VMware has a bevy of partnerships and connections to cloud services. The list could go on.

Among the key services launched under IBM's hybrid rallying cry:

  • IBM DataWorks, a tool to find, refine and deliver data. Developers will be able to manage data sets from private and public sources.
  • Collaborative Operations, which will provide a single view of hybrid cloud resources.
  • Orchestration as a service to manage hybrid environments.
  • Security features that analyze risk across the company, clouds and devices.
  • Watson Zone, a clearinghouse on IBM's Bluemix platform that includes training, content, code and use cases to develop cognitive computing apps.
  • Watson Personality Insights Service, a beta that'll be available for Bluemix and analyze patters and trends in public data streams.
  • Watson Services in beta that will include speech to text, text to speech, visual recognition, and tradeoff analytics. The services are free to developers exploring use cases.
  • Enterprise containers that support Docker APIs and extend them to Linux containers.
  • Secure Passport Gateway, a self-service tool so developers can link data and services in Bluemix.
  • API Harmony, a service to match, manage and expose APIs.
  • Bluemix Local, a management tool for Bluemix environments.

To back up that long list of additions, IBM also launched new SoftLayer cloud centers in Sydney and Montreal. The data centers open within the month and will round out new facilities in Frankfurt, Querétaro, Mexico, and Tokyo. SoftLayer will also open new centers in Milan, Italy and Chennai, India in 2015.

CSC, Tech Mahindra expand partnerships

IBM, however, can only broaden its cloud footprint among customers so far by itself. The company also said it will expand partnerships with CSC and Tech Mahindra to be cloud integration partners.

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CSC and IBM said they will partner to help customers adopt Bluemix as well as SoftLayer. CSC offers a variety of hybrid cloud deployment services. The partnership will focus on joint customers. Bluemix will be offered as a public or private single-tenant platform.

The partnership with Tech Mahindra has a similar theme. The partnership revolves around Bluemix and SoftLayer. IBM will offer Tech Mahindra developers a platform for cloud applications. In return, Tech Mahindra will train 5,000 of its developers to build on Bluemix.

For its part, Tech Mahindra will also use Bluemix to primarily focus on DevOps and Internet of things applications.

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