IBM kicks off Impact 2013 this morning by announcing the first cloud service marketplace for the enterprise, a single place on the IBM Cloud where customers can see all the SaaS, major infrastructure pieces and developers’ tools available on IBM SoftLayer. The IBM cloud marketplace is organized into three sections for the three major constituencies that use cloud business services: business leaders, developers and IT managers.
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It includes IBM’s Bluemix Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and composable services for developers, SoftLayer Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), IBM’s 100-plus SaaS services plus the SaaS services and other offerings from the growing list of third-party providers on SoftLayer including Zend, SendGrid, MongoDB, NewRelic, Redis Labs, Sonian, Flow Search Crop, Twilio and Ustream. Customers can access it using their laptops, tablets or smartphones and buy cloud-based resources with the click of a mouse or tap of a touchscreen and the swipe of a credit card, if they wish.
Gartner estimates that market demand for cloud services will reach $250 billion this year and that approximately 80 percent of organizations will be using cloud services by the end of the year. Many of IBM’s customers are now developing their cloud service strategies, says Steve Robinson, GM of IBM Cloud Platform Services. “As enterprises look to shape out their overall public cloud strategy, this becomes a tremendous knowledge base for them.”
Customers who got an early look at the market are enthusiastic, he says. Some see value in building internal corporate markets to make both internal and public cloud services easier for business users to access. This would encourage them to use company standard services rather than alternatives that might not integrate with the enterprise architecture.
“This is one of the clear use cases where IBM can differentiate by bringing the enterprise world to the born-on-the-Web world,” Robinson says. “Many enterprises have tremendous investments in their database and their transaction environments and their systems of record. They want to extend those out to turn them into much more of a systematic engagement by adding services that bring mobile capability, push capability, geo-location capability and linkages to popular social applications.”
IBM’s partners are enthusiastic about the cloud marketplace, Robinson says, and they are getting inquiries from service providers interested in developing or porting services to SoftLayer in part to be in the marketplace. “Who wouldn’t want to get that exposure to IBM’s customers?”
This is a feedback loop. The more enterprise applications that are available on SoftLayer and integrated with each other, the more attractive it becomes to business customers. And the more customers use SoftLayer, the more attractive the platform is to third-party service providers.
The marketplace is a showcase for IBM’s company-wide effort to become a major player in the new, exploding world of IaaS, SaaS and other business cloud services. So far this year it has made $10 billion in investments in cloud, including $7 billion in acquisitions including Cloudant, Silverpop, and Aspera.
And customers are responding. “It’s amazing how much over the past six quarters or so the amount of conversations we’re having, the tremendous support that we’re getting from our client base,” Robinson said. “I think you can see that in the marketplace. This is evolving to be a new channel for IBM. The cloud marketplace is a new way for us to work with our customers, allow them to use self-service to buy their services, allow them to better see what we have to offer, how we can be more front-and-center as they define their public strategy.”