When it comes to public cloud, Amazon and Microsoft enjoy the mindshare of enterprise decision makers. While Amazon’s AWS is considered the category leader, Microsoft has not left any stone unturned to become a cloud-first company. Given the breadth and depth of the portfolio, industry veterans agree that AWS and Azure are the top public cloud platforms for enterprises. These two companies have been making steady progress to consolidate their position in the market. Microsoft is inching closer to Amazon, which is widening the gap between the second and third slots. Google, IBM, and Oracle are battling it out to become the third best enterprise cloud. What is IBM’s strategy to become the top enterprise cloud platform leaving the competition behind?
IBM’s big bets come in the form of Blockchain, Cognitive Computing, and Internet of Things. These services are built on the foundation of Bluemix and Watson – the cloud and AI platforms from IBM. Both Bluemix and Watson have emerged as the key differentiating factors for the company. Bluemix, a service built on top of OpenStack and Cloud Foundry, delivers IaaS and PaaS capabilities. Watson is an outcome of decades of research from IBM in the space of Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI). Though the platform can deliver traditional cloud services such as VMs, storage, and networking, IBM is emphasizing on the forward-looking use cases revolving around data and analytics.
I got a chance to attend this year’s InterConnect event in Las Vegas, the largest IBM developer and user conference that witnessed record attendance from customers, partners, and developers. The keynotes, sessions, and messages revolved around how the company is relevant in the era of connected devices and Artificial Intelligence (AI). It was fascinating to watch IBM, one of the oldest technology companies, making its move to become a modern, contemporary cloud platform company. IBM’s executives delivered carefully crafted messages on how its cloud is ready for next generation enterprise workloads.
Ginni Rometty, chairman, president and CEO of IBM, spoke about three key differentiating factors – enterprise strong, data first, cognitive at the core.
Ginni claimed that IBM’s cloud platform delivers the scale and security required by businesses. With over 50 data centers present in 20 countries, IBM is one of the few cloud platforms with the largest footprint. It is also betting big on the hybrid cloud that lets customers run sensitive workloads on-premises while moving a few applications to the public cloud. IBM has partnered with Wanda Group in China to deliver Bluemix to the local businesses.
IBM is emphasizing on the data-first architecture that doesn’t use customer data stored in the cloud for commercial purposes. Her claim is that the competition is indirectly using customer data to become better at training Machine Learning algorithms to deliver accurate models. Ginni highlighted how IBM’s cloud respects data diversity, data control, and isolation.
The third bet comes in the form of Cognitive Computing powered by Watson. Ginni claimed that cognitive is not a feature but a foundational aspect of its cloud platform. IBM is attempting to bring IoT and AI closer that delivers unique scenarios to industry verticals including healthcare, automotive, and manufacturing segments.