So I’m not the cloud guy within Perficient but let’s face it, everything I see within my portal, web content, social, and marketing automation world has some cloud component. Let me give you some examples:
- We see more and more requests to host IBM Portal and IBM WCM on an easy to manage external entity. Perficient uses a partner, Blue Iron because they stand up actual working instances of software and support more than just the base OS.
- Sitecore has a Sitecore Azure option which makes a lot of sense given the fact that Azure can treat SQL Service as a Database service and not force separate spin-ups of db servers. Note: the link is to a whitepaper on what you need to think about when implementing Sitecore Azure
- Most marketing automation is done via cloud based tools like Eloqua, ExactTarget, and Xtify
- Perficient’s Microsoft practice is spending a lot of time migrating users to that SaaS cloud product
- Our Salesforce practice is growing by leaps and bounds with Sales Cloud, Services cloud, and the portal they call communities…..all SaaS options
This front end world is relatively quickly becoming a cloud based world. It’s not all SaaS. IaaS and PaaS have plays here. That brings me to my question posed in the title, what does Softlayer mean for IBM. I think that in the short term, it mean some pain for IBM and it’s partner channel of which Perficient is a part. That said, of course there’s confusion, cloud is changing rapidly and IBM recently acquired a company that now must be reconciled with a previous cloud offering in SmartCloud.
In doing some basic research, I found the following which I think shed some light on the subject.
It’s Easy to Use
Everywhere I go I find a variety of quotes on this. I spoke recently to one of our partners who told me they intend to move at least part of their cloud services to Softlayer. He said that yes it’s expensive but the tools to manage everything within that IaaS world are really easy to use.
One article at CRN says this:
SoftLayer’s automation platform, on the other hand, enables businesses to marry speed and simplicity and attracts the kind of young companies IBM wants — game makers, Database-as-a-Service companies and born-in-the cloud app makers.
“IBM needs to be high-speed, low-drag. That’s what the market wants. SmartCloud just didn’t deliver on that front. But before I get too excited about SoftLayer, partners need to know where IBM is headed with the platform. We want to add value but don’t want to get burned down the road when SoftLayer rolls out similar services,” said Champion Solutions’ Pyle.
I also found a number of reviews which highlight ease of use, nimbleness, and reliability. So it seems that while Softlayer has focused on the infrastructure as a service side and doesn’t offer as much additional services as other competitors, it’s still a fantastic start.
It Gives IBM a Basis for All the Other Cloud Offerings
Softlayer is easy to use and I have no doubt IBM will pile commerce, web content, portal, and a host of other tools on it. It will become the baseline for all on-premise tools IBM needs to migrate to the cloud. It will take years but the agility provided makes it a lot easier compared to the old SmartCloud offering
Let’s Face It, Softlayer Is Just More Cool
You hate to say it because the entire technology industry views itself as a dispassionate base that makes rational decisions on what’s best for the business…………but I’ve been around too long and seen too many decisions to move or buy systems based on what you would ultimately call the coolness factor. Back when IBM acquired Softlayer, Gigaom came out with an interesting article that highlights it.
- SoftLayer caters to younger, smaller, cooler companies — game makers, database-as-a-service companies including Slideshare, Kixeye, SendGrid and Cloudant. IBM SmartCloud customers tend to be, well existing IBM customers — enterprises. Will culture shock result?
- IBM has been a loud proponent of OpenStack since joining the OpenStack Foundation last year. SoftLayer offers an OpenStack Swift-based storage option but has strong allegiances with Citrix, which backs the CloudStack open source effort. So what happens there?
- Will the new division start building or acquiring additional new services to compete with AWS and to attempt to lock customers in, as AWS does with its higher-level services?
I think that the long term implications of this will allow IBM to better compete in the marketplace and no one has any illusions on how competitive this space will be with IBM, Google, Amazon, and Microsoft deeply in the mix…..with a whole host of other players.