We had the opportunity to attend the analyst summit for IBM’s cloud efforts, held last week in New York at the brand new and beautiful Watson HQ at Astor Place. The event was very well attended, despite the summer season and the Friday date, showing the interest that IBM has gained in cloud matters in the analyst community. 

We learned a lot of things, tough to distill the Top 3 – but here you go:

Messaging Improvement – Discounting transcontinental travel and a hot day in New York City, I was impressed by the improved messaging by IBM executives, listening to LeBlanc, Rippert et al. It looks to me that the formation of the new Cloud Business Unit has helped, also that IBM has hired a number of key executives from the outside. So it’s no longer about speeds and feeds, but about business model change, creating differentiation for customers, enabling new business models, understanding the power and relevance of open source as a platform, and enabling enterprises to build next generation applications with a modern PaaS, Bluemix. It is still early days, but IBM can speak more about customers using this than ever before, we were walked through about a dozen customer scenarios and references as the day progressed. The good news is not only to have these customers stories, but getting uptdates about their usage of the IBM cloud product and equally learning about broader initial uptake of the IBM cloud product in new accounts. 
Leblanc opens the IBM Cloud Analyst Summit in NYC
LeBlanc opens the Cloud Summit

Hybrid is on the rise – We have advised, talked, presented and blogged about 2015 being the year of the rise of the hybrid cloud in terms of product enablement. And no surprise IBM is no exception, with most of Sabbah’s presentation focused on the topic. IBM plans to deliver a product (I guess for now) called the ‘Hybrid Controller’, which is tasked to combine on premise and cloud resources securely and reliably across different data centers. It is clear that IBM hears from its customer that pure public cloud is not the immediate path and desire for all of them, so for IBM to enable to play on all angles of the cloud economics spectrum, from value on traditional servers in traditional data centers, over private, to dedicated (aka managed) to public cloud is key. Being able to do this across public clouds (Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure were logo mentioned on the slides - see below) is important for IBM to keep its position as a trusted advisor of the CIO, beyond only IBM product and brands. Finally the acquisition of BlueBox (see my News Analysis here) is a key enabler in the immediate future for IBM to enable the hybrid cloud reality.
The IBM Hybrid Cloud vision
The IBM Hybrid Cloud vision 

Bluemix more and more in the mix – It is becoming clear how essential Bluemix is for the IBM cloud strategy, and that starts with adoption. Robinson shared uptake numbers of Bluemix and given the product is only officially 1.5 years old – they are notable: Bluemix is the largest CloudFoundry deployment on record, it has over 400k users and is adding 8000 users every week. In April Bluemix logged 1B API calls, an impressive number. But IBM still wants to see even more and has put social media / community veteran Carter on the community outreach for Cloud / Bluemix. IBM is also doing well on the partner front with Twitter, CitiBank, Box, Apple and NASA, as well as very good system integrator uptake, with Accenture, CapGemini, Deloitte, EY, KPMG, PWC, TechMahindra and Wipro being mentioned.
IBM Bluemix traction
IBM Bluemix traction


IBM momentum keeps growing, as IBM keeps investing into datacenter locations, additional software capabilities and ecosystem building. It looks like the organization with a dedicated cloud group under LeBlanc is paying off, as the team is in place, seems to be working well together, and most importantly is focused only on the IBM cloud success.

On the concern side, IBM is the only cloud player with no ‘organic’ load. It reminds us of the 1000 SaaS properties that are in the IBM fold, but that’s not enough to reach the economics of scale that are needed to succeed long term in the cloud. When I asked LeBlanc on this, it was good to see that IBM has realized this and sees them main growth of load coming from Strategic Outsourcing deals. IBM has signed a number of those in the last quarters, but will need to push the gas pedal down even more, as traditional (hardware) competitors Cisco, Dell and HP get their cloud game (finally) together and will create more competition. But it is good to see that IBM executives are aware of the challenge and are addressing it.

Overall a good event for IBM, that is focused and investing into cloud and has some key differentiating assets over the competition, starting with more data center locations around the world, an enterprise grade PaaS product with Bluemix and attractive differentiators in cognitive computing with Watson, Analytics, BigData and Security. And last but not least IBM has access to almost all CIOs around the world, so it will be interesting to see how well IBM can leverage that going forward. We will be watching.

More on IBM :
  • Market Move - IBM gets into private cloud (services) with Blue Box acqusition - read here
  • Event Report - IBM InterConnect - IBM makes bets for the hybrid cloud - read here
  • First Take - IBM InterConnect Day #1 Keynote - BlueMix, SoftLayer and Watson - read here
  • News Analysis - IBM had a very good year in the cloud - 2015 will be key - read here
  • Event Report - IBM Insight 2014 - Is it all coming together for IBM in 2015? Or not? 
  • First Take - Top 3 Takeaways from IBM Insight Day 1 Keynote - read here
  • IBM and SAP partner for cloud - good move - read here
  • Event Report - IBM Enterprise - A lot of value for existing customers, but can IBM attract net new customers? Read here
  • Progress Report - The Mainframe is alive and kicking - but there is more in IBM STG - read here
  • News Analysis - IBM and Intel partner to make the cloud more secure - read here
  • Progress Report - IBM BigData an Analytics have a lot of potential - time to show it - read here
  • Event Report - What a difference a year makes - and off to a good start - read here
  • First Take - 3 Key Takeaways from IBM's Impact Conference - Day 1 Keynote - read here
  • Another week and another Billion - this week it's a BlueMix Paas - read here
  • First take - IBM makes Connection - introduces the TalentSuite at IBM Connect - read here
  • IBM kicks of cloud data center race in 2014 - read here
  • First Take - IBM Software Group's Analyst Insights - read here
  • Are we witnessing one of the largest cloud moves - so far? Read here
  • Why IBM acquired Softlayer - read here
Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here and checkout my magazine on Flipboard