IBM Cloud marketplace: Big Blue's big tent for all clouds

IBM Cloud marketplace gathers Big Blue's cloud offerings and solidifies company's stance in software and cloud strategy

Most of us know IBM has been putting together a broad portfolio of cloud offerings, but few could name them all without a little research. Now IBM has started to pull together its welter of cloud products -- its own, those it's acquired, and the ones made available through partners -- to showcase under one roof.

The company calls it the IBM Cloud marketplace, and more than 100 cloud-powered offerings are available through the storefront. Many are free, and several partners should be familiar to enterprise IT: MongoDB, Zend, Redis, and Cloudant, to name a few. One analogy compares the marketplace to Rackspace's long-standing Cloud Tools portal -- not a bad example, as the point is not only to showcase work by IBM partners but also to make IBM into more of an aggregator for and provider of business cloud needs.

What are the big implications for IBM with the Cloud marketplace?

More businesses embracing the push to hybridize the cloud. By and large, enterprises are favoring hybrid cloud deployments rather than exclusively public or exclusively private clouds, with Amazon ruling public and OpenStack posting major gains in private. IBM has its feet in both: Its own private cloud strategy is OpenStack-centric, and its public cloud is marked by its acquisition and expansion of SoftLayer. Small wonder the components for sale in IBM's marketplace target remote cloud environments (such as many of SoftLayer's offerings), as well as products designed to be deployed both remotely and locally (Zend Server, for instance).

IBM's redefinition as a cloud vendor. IBM has been engaged in a long, slow good-bye with the hardware world and reinventing itself as a software-services-and-cloud company. Granted, it can't separate from its hardware roots too fast: It's still throwing a good deal of energy into legacy mainframes and Power Architecture systems, the former for the sake of existing customer contracts and the latter to have a say in the new environments that might be running Linux. But IBM's future is in software and services, not big iron (or small iron, for that matter), and having a showcase for that direction doesn't hurt.

The rebranding of IBM's existing software as cloud products. Nowhere else is this more visible than through IBM's separate BlueMix project, wherein IBM's existing middleware products are respun as cloud services -- a way for IBM to reach a broader (and broadening) audience and to avoid speeding those products toward irrelevancy. It's disturbingly easy to offer just about anything as a service these days, and IBM is wise to get the jump on competition.

The biggest obstacle to banking on the cloud as the future is the same for an outfit of IBM's stature as for anyone else: The sheer size and weight of the incumbents makes it tough to get a foothold. There's also no guarantee existing IBM customers will follow the company through its transition; it depends on how deeply invested they were in the first place.

IBM also claims it's appealing to managers, developers, and IT administrators through its marketplace offerings, which hints it understands the cloud is part of the "self-service IT" world that an earlier, more inflexible IBM would have been loathe to embrace. It isn't a guarantee IBM can survive, but it is a sign it's aware of the odds.

This article, "IBM Cloud marketplace: Big Blue's big tent for all clouds," was originally published at Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.

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