By Robert LeBlanc
Near my home in Westchester County north of New York City, there’s a shopping mall that stands head-and-shoulders above all the rest. It has the best stores, is conveniently located in an urban area with easy access to the highway, and offers shoppers a mobile app so they can easily find their way around. The top retailers want to be there for all those reasons, and for the marketing and promotional opportunities provided by the mall. It’s a magnet for shoppers and retailers alike.
With the creation of the IBM Cloud Marketplace, we are going after that same premium experience – but with technology. The IBM Cloud marketplace, a new digital channel for IBM, is part of a shift in how we deliver capabilities. This cloud marketplace and others like it will increasingly be the places where the imperatives of business are addressed by technology and the expertise of innovation thought leaders. They are where business and technology will meet.
I wrote two months ago that we are in the process of reimagining IBM—how we operate and how we deliver value to clients and society.Over time, we will continue to deliver more capabilities, innovations, and expertise from the cloud. Think of it as “IBM as a Service.”
The IBM Cloud Marketplace, open for business today, will be one of the primary channels through which we deliver IBM as a Service. In addition, we will collaborate with partners from our global ecosystem to deliver hundreds of cloud services for the enterprise.
We have designed the marketplace to be a compelling destination for business leaders, IT managers and application developers to visit—via their PCs, tablets or smartphones–and find solutions to their business and technology needs. The user interface varies depending on a visitor’s role in their organization. But, for each of them, the services they seek are easy to locate, easy to understand, easy to order, easy to try out, and easy to purchase.
The IBM Cloud Marketplace is unique in three key respects:
–The role-based approach. Other marketplaces are typically aimed at broad, undefined audiences. We cater to business leaders, developers, and IT operation leaders–Biz, Dev and Ops, for short. Each visitor gets the clear navigation and tailored guidance they need to select services off a virtual shelf or, in some cases, to snap a selection of services together to create powerful new applications and business processes. We call this “composable business.”
–Variety. While other cloud marketplaces tend to focus on one type of service, ours includes software-as-a-service, infrastructure-as-a-service and platform-as-a-service. In addition to IBM’s comprehensive portfolio of enterprise cloud services, offerings provided by other companies are also available in the marketplace. Among the initial business partners featured in the marketplace are Redis Labs, Zend and SendGrid.
–Expertise. We have infused the marketplace with knowledge gained through IBM’s decades of experience in solving challenging business problems for a wide variety of clients. In addition, we have packaged up expertise from our vast network of business partners. Within the marketplace, based on a visitor’s role, we offer up suggested services—or packages of services–based on the person’s industry, business function and goals.
We’re starting with six categories of services–mobile, analytics, computing infrastructure, a product-development environment, and services for gaming companies and for startup businesses born on the Web. We will gradually add more. For instance, you can expect that cloud services based on IBM Watson, our cognitive computing technology platform, will be available in the Marketplace in the not-too-distant future.
To help our business partners create their own cloud services, many of which will be sold in the Marketplace, we have launched our new cloud application development environment,BlueMix, Where more than 30 cloud services are available for use by application developers
We also announced our first BlueMix Garage, which will be physical locations where developers can create new apps, learn new development skills, and access IBM’s developer ecosystem. The garages are modeled on the “Maker” innovation phenomenon. The first location will be in the Galvanize startup incubator in San Francisco’s Sout of Market neighborhood, which is home to more startups per square foot than anywhere else in the world.
This is all part of the shift in enterprise technology away from pre-packaged offerings updated annually to easy-to-access a la carte offerings that are continuously improved upon. This is a major global trend that has been accelerating over the past decade. In the new era of computing, the benefits of technology are being delivered to business people in ever more easily consumable ways. So, just like the people who operate that mall near my home, it’s on us at IBM to provide all of the convenience and quality that consumers of all types are demanding—and receiving—today.
The IBM Cloud Marketplace is the new digital front door for IBM. We are designing it to be as welcoming and as useful as they have every right to expect, and we are committed to making continuous improvements. The goal is transforming IBM into a cloud company and delivering IBM as a Service–and the launch of the IBM Cloud Marketplace is a major step along that path.