Thursday, December 29, 2011

IBM Cloud Offering Decoder

[This article was submitted for future publication on]

Years ago, I had the opportunity to chat with a VP in charge of IBM software research, and I asked him point-blank, how are IBM products different from the competitors'? He answered simply that other products on the market were “uni-taskers” – having limited function – whereas IBM offerings were like a whole set of dependable Craftsman® tools. The uni-tasker might offer a quick and easy fix, but IBM offers customers a range of options they can use to build the right solution.

I am reminded of this conversation again as I look at the IBM cloud offering portfolio. In the cloud marketplace, there certainly are a lot of uni-taskers, but the value in the IBM cloud portfolio is that it is extensive, with offerings to meet the needs of all kinds of businesses, large and small. However, having too many choices can be daunting. I am definitely in the camp of “having a lot of options is a good thing,” but I can see how this might cause some confusion and make things more complicated for customers looking for the right solutions for their business. That is why I give you my “cloud offering decoder” if you will.

Where do you fit in to the cloud ecosystem?
By now, you might be familiar with the cloud delivery models:
However, whether you want to move a little of your business on to the cloud, or a lot, cloud adoption patterns tend to fall into one of the following categories, depending on how you want to use cloud:
What do you want to do with cloud?
Cloud delivery model
Cut IT costs and reduce complexity
Cloud enable your data center

Accelerate application development, testing, and deployment
Leverage cloud platform services
Transform business processes, build your brand, innovate with speed and efficiency, drive sales and profitability
Use business solutions on cloud
Create, manage, and monetize cloud services
Become a cloud service provider
Cloud infrastructure

IBM cloud offerings are grouped around the following adoption patterns:
  • Cloud enabled data center (IaaS): Here are a plethora of offerings, ranging from IT services to help you plan your cloud strategy, to implementing an advanced cloud infrastructure.
  • Cloud platform services (PaaS): These are pre-built, pre-integrated IT infrastructures tuned to application-specific needs. The offerings here support development, deployment, and testing of applications on the cloud.
  • Business solutions on cloud (SaaS): The IBM offerings here cover business process design, social business, supply-chain visibility, digital marketing optimization, B2B integration, monitoring as a service, desktop cloud, and more.
  • Cloud service provider: Here you have everything you need to build the cloud infrastructure, enable and extend applications in the cloud, and so on.
In addition to these cloud adoption patterns, there are a number of offerings to help secure, manage, and integrate a cloud environment. (A nice way of saying, “Stuff that did not fit into the other categories.”)

Cloud-enabled data center
Cloud platform services
Business solutions on cloud
Cloud service provider
Cloud security, service assurance, hybrid cloud integration and management

IBM fall cloud launch
The IBM cloud computing webcast on Oct. 12 did an excellent job of presenting the IBM cloud offerings, and you can visit the IBM Cloud Computing Briefing Center to access a replay of the event. After registering, be sure to explore the links under the Directory in the virtual meeting center where you will find more detailed information about specific cloud topics and offerings.