Putting Cloud first, literally!

Apart from growing the private cloud market, IBM may also be looking for capturing a higher share of public services market, where its growth has been slow

On Wednesday, IBM announced Cloud Private, a platform for enterprises to leverage the microservices architecture for building cloud-native applications and refactoring their monolithic applications. This, the company says, will facilitate “integration and portability of workloads as they evolve to any cloud environment, including public IBM cloud.”

The new platform is built on the open source Kubernetes-based container architecture and supports both Docker containers and Cloud Foundry.

IBM is the third largest cloud company globally and is a leader in the private cloud market, according to the Q3 2017 (latest) figures released by research firm Synergy Research Group. However, IBM lags both bigger rivals AWS and Microsoft as well as challengers like Google, Alibaba and Oracle in terms of growth. That is because of a higher growth witnessed by the public cloud segment of the market.    

The new initiative, on the face of it, will give a greater push to the private cloud market, on which it has a firmer hold, and drive its growth. Some customers are having a relook at public cloud, because of control and performance issues while some others want to remain private for privacy/regulatory reasons. IBM wants to leverage this segment and grow the entire private cloud piece of the market.

That is the stated positioning of IBM.

“Innovation and adoption of public cloud services has been constrained by the challenge of transitioning complex enterprise systems and applications into a true cloud-native environment,” said Arvind Krishna, Senior Vice President for IBM Hybrid Cloud and Director of IBM Research, in a press statement.

“IBM Cloud Private brings rapid application development and modernization to existing IT infrastructure and positions it to be combined with the services and experience of a public cloud platform,” he said.

IBM also claimed that “companies will spend more than USD 50 billion globally starting in 2017 to create and evolve private clouds with growth rates of 15 to 20% a year through 2020, according to IBM market projections.”  

However, IBM may also be aiming to capture a larger share of public cloud market through this initiative.

This is how.

IBM has a huge customer base that uses its traditional middleware and other legacy applications.  Through this initiative, IBM hopes to provide an easy migration path for these customers.

By building the platform on the open source Kubernetes-based container architecture (supporting both Docker containers and Cloud Foundry), IBM hopes to facilitate easier integration and portability of workloads between private and public cloud.

One thing that IBM Cloud Private will do is to help IBM customers place IBM middleware and other legacy applications inside containers and transform them into modern cloud ready applications by leveraging container orchestration run by Kubernetes. 

By working closely with the clients on their private cloud and making it easy for them to migrate to public cloud, IBM can genuinely hope to boost its public cloud business.

This strategy is evident from the fact that IBM also announced new container-optimized versions of core enterprise software, such as IBM WebSphere Liberty, Db2 and MQ.

The advantages of microservices come from resource isolation, scale up and scale down, and lightweight, portable movement of applications workloads.

However, as the number of microservices constituting an application grows, management and overhead become more and more complex.

Developers need to discover existing services to avoid duplication while administrators need to ensure that they can monitor and secure the environment. This platform will enable that, claims IBM.

Last but not the least, it will give a fresh lease of life to its legacy applications and middleware. 

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