One large technology player acquiring a smaller, more nimble company isn't anything new. So, news that IBM is acquiring cloud infrastructure provider, SoftLayer, isn't exactly a bolt out of the blue. Cloud computing is an unwavering inevitability and every man and his dog is looking at sprucing up their proposition, either through copious amounts of cloud washing or by buying their way in like IBM. It's not just about the technology; it's the consulting and servicing ability of the cloud provider - everything matters! The fact that IBM used to be a global network services company is an irony not lost on many. Here is a giant of the technology sector that sold off its network and assets some years ago as it thought they were no longer needed.
The IBM - SoftLayer acquisition illustrates the emergence of a new type of company, borne out of the very active collision of very different industries - network providers, traditional hosting/IaaS owners, system integrators and hardware providers. This new type of company will need to be transparent with everything. That's right across its infrastructure, its network assets, its data centre footprint, its SLAs, compliance, security and controllability without inventing a parallel universe where Europe is a super state and everything is harmonious. And, we've not even started on the trust issue. Organisations need to trust their provider of choice and while M&As will muddy the water, it will be how this transition is managed that will be most important.
Right now, many companies are embracing cloud 1.0 - where their service may fail or at the very least they need to design around it failing, knowing how to recover. For many non-critical applications this is fine. But, there is a whole section of the market that wants the next version of cloud computing, where the computing they bring up and down in minutes stays up; and really replaces the need to buy tin, ensuring migration without rewriting all their applications.
The next wave of cloud computing decisions will come down to who they can trust - that is trust in the service, reliability, control and ownership - everything will count. IBM's decision to acquire SoftLayer signals a change in thinking about what the market realises really matters. And, as a cloud provider, that is your assets - you need to work out what they are fast and be absolutely transparent. Or, you will simply fade away into irrelevance!
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