By Robert LeBlanc
and Erich Clementi
Cloud computing has gone mainstream in the United States and it’s poised to become the predominant way computing is done in American business and government. But what about the rest of the world? That’s a different story.
Analysis from major IT market researchers shows that cloud adoption in Western Europe lags the US, and it’s just getting off the ground in some other regions and countries.
Some emerging markets trail far behind. That’s unfortunate because those economies would benefit most from an approach to computing that requires little or no capital investment, allows organizations to share computing resources, and makes it possible to get going in days or weeks rather than months.Why is global progress so variable?
There are multiple factors at work. In Western Europe, government privacy laws require organizations to store certain types of data within the borders of countries or within the European Community. Technology buyers are concerned about compatibility with existing applications. And, in many situations, buyers are reluctant to make big bets on technologies that they consider to be unproven or where the applications they seek are not yet available as cloud services.
In order to deepen the penetration of cloud services worldwide, the tech industry must address these concerns head on.
IBM is attacking each pain point aggressively. Our goal is to provide the cloud platform of choice globally for enterprises of all sizes–aligned with our corporate clients, our business partners and developers around the world who are increasingly developing applications for the cloud.
Here’s how we’re doing it:
Building a Global Footprint: This year we invested $1.2 billion and opened 15 new cloud centers worldwide on top of 25 that we already had. The latest: centers in Frankfurt, Mexico City and Tokyo. We also formed an alliance with Equinix, a major data center hosting company, to place our equipment in eight of their facilities, including those in Australia, France, Japan and Singapore. This footprint enables us to custom-fit cloud services to local regulations and requirements wherever our clients do business. Just two weeks ago, we announced a global cloud services arrangement with WPP, the world’s largest communications company, addressing the needs of 3,000 locations around the world.
Forging Global Partnerships: The marketplace is still developing, so we’re combining forces with other technology companies to provide a wider array of highest-quality cloud services. This year, IBM has announced one of the largest cloud deals in the industry with Germany’s SAP, the enterprise software application leader, where SAP will run services on IBM clouds. We’re also forming alliances to address emerging markets. For example, we allied with Chinese Internet giant Tencent to help Chinese enterprises capitalize on the transformative power of the cloud.
Supporting Local Cloud Ecosystems: For organizations to make the most of the cloud phenomenon, they need healthy cloud ecosystems to emerge, capable of providing them with a wide variety of locally-relevant products and services. In addition, the cloud can help economies grow by fostering entrepreneurship and innovation. IBM is helping to build such ecosystems worldwide–including our alliance with Egypt to help local entrepreneurs develop and sell cloud services throughout the Middle East and Africa; and our partnership with the City of New York to launch Digital.NYC, a portal providing tech entrepreneurs with all of the resources they need to start a business in the city.
Providing Innovation Platforms. Some people think you’re moving to the cloud if you simply transition traditional software applications to remote data centers. That’s a missed opportunity. The most useful cloud services will be designed from the ground up to take advantage of this new delivery method. To help out, we’re offering our Bluemix development platform so corporate developers and independent software companies can quickly compose applications using a wide variety of IBM and 3rd party software components. We also offer IBM Marketplace, an online destination for cloud services from IBM and a growing partner ecosystem.
Empowering Clients: In earlier eras of computing, businesses learned that they suffered if they became too closely tied to a particular technology provider. They got locked in and encountered compatibility problems.. The same lesson goes for the cloud era. That’s why we build all of our cloud services on open technology standards agreed to by many of the industry players. We’re proud to be part of the OpenStack Foundation, Cloud Foundry and other open source alliances.
Offering Freedom of Choice: When it comes to cloud services, one size definitely does not fit all. That’s why we offer clients a broad portfolio of services to choose from, including public, private and hybrid clouds. We believe that many enterprises will choose hybrid clouds--which enable them to set up integrated systems that store some of their data on premises while benefiting from the flexibility and efficiencies of the public cloud. For American insurance company The Hartford, IBM will build a high-capacity private cloud and provide additional public-cloud services.
We’ve been in the IT industry for over 3 decades. We’ve been through, and, in some cases, led, major shifts in software and services. But We’ve never before participated in a paradigm shift as profoundly important as cloud computing.
We’re confident that we’ll overcome the challenges that delay adoption. Whenever cloud service providers or our clients think about deploying new cloud solutions, we must think globally. That’s what it’s going to take to bring the full benefits of cloud computing to all the people of the world.