The need to manage private clouds seems to be really heating up on the demand side – last week EMC announced plans to acquire Virtustream (see analysis here), today both IBM and Cisco announced the respective purchases / intent to purchase of BlueBox and PistonCloud. 
Let’s dissect the IBM press release (it can be found here):

ARMONK, N.Y - 03 Jun 2015: IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced it has acquired Blue Box Group, Inc., a managed private cloud provider built on OpenStack.
Blue Box is a privately held company based in Seattle that provides businesses with a simple, private cloud as a service platform, based on OpenStack. Customers benefit from the ability to more easily deploy workloads across hybrid cloud environments. Financial details were not disclosed.
MyPOV – Another acquisition in Seattle, Blue Box originally started as a website hosting provider and has evolved to a OpenStack managed private cloud provider.

Enterprises are seeking ways to embrace all types of cloud to address a wide range of workloads. Today’s announcement reinforces IBM’s commitment to deliver flexible cloud computing models that make it easier for customers to move to data and applications across clouds and meets their needs across public, private and hybrid cloud environments. With Gartner forecasting that 72 percent of enterprises will be pursuing a hybrid cloud strategy this year [1], it is increasingly important for companies to leverage multiple models while maintaining consistent management across their cloud platforms.
MyPOV – For the longest time the race was about getting public cloud capabilities going. It looks like by mid of 2015 enterprises are ready to move to cloud, albeit in a more conservative fashion, with more private cloud aspects than ever before. With the bare metal of SoftLayer IBM is able to give customers more confidence levels than most competitors, but it seems that this was not enough, hence the Blue Box acquisition.

Through Blue Box, IBM will help businesses rapidly integrate their cloud-based applications and on-premises systems into OpenStack-based managed cloud. Blue Box also strengthens IBM Cloud’s existing OpenStack portfolio, with the introduction of a remotely managed OpenStack offering to provide clients with a local cloud and increased visibility, control and security.
MyPOV – This paragraph unveils the ‘crown jewels’ – the capability to manage a Openstack system deployed remotely. Enterprises may still want to utilize their data centers and see their servers, but are more open to have them managed remotely.

This move further accelerates IBM’s commitment to open technologies and OpenStack. IBM has 500 developers dedicated to working on open cloud projects to bring new cloud innovations to market. With Forrester Research recently finding that more than twice as many firms use or plan to use IBM Cloud as their primary hosted private cloud platform than the next closest vendor [2], Blue Box is a strategic fit into the IBM Cloud portfolio.
MyPOV – No surprise – OpenStack compatibility is important and makes Blue Box a good fit.

Blue Box can enhance and complement developer productivity by:

· Speeding delivery of applications and data through simplified and consistent access to public, dedicated and local cloud infrastructures

· Supporting managed infrastructure services across hybrid cloud environments and IBM’s digital innovation platform, Bluemix

· Offering a single management tool for OpenStack-based private clouds regardless of location

MyPOV – Good summary of the BlueBox capabilities. Blue Box partnered with small PaaS vendor Mendix, the mention here of Bluemix may make those deployments uncertain – but we are not aware of a statement in these regards. In our view it maybe well worth for IBM to look at the Mendix capabilities.

This acquisition will enable IBM to deliver a public cloud-like experience within the client’s own data center, relieving organizations of the burden of traditional private cloud deployments.
MyPOV – Underlines the value prop – the customer keeps the data center the management goes to IBM. The acquisition reminds me of Cisco’s recent acquisition of MetaCloud (see here), which also had a significant service aspect.

“IBM is dedicated to helping our clients migrate to the cloud in an open, secure, data rich environment that meet their current and future business needs,” said IBM General Manager of Cloud Services Jim Comfort. “The acquisition of Blue Box accelerates IBM’s open cloud strategy making it easier for our clients to move to data and applications across clouds and adopt hybrid cloud environments."

“No brand is more respected in IT than IBM,” said Blue Box Founder and CTO Jesse Proudman. “Blue Box is building a similarly respected brand in OpenStack. Together, we will deliver the technology and products businesses need to give their application developers an agile, responsive infrastructure across public and private clouds. This acquisition signals the beginning of new OpenStack options delivered by IBM. Now is the time to arm customers with more efficient development, delivery and lower cost solutions than they've seen thus far in the market.”

MyPOV – The usual quotes – no comment needed.

IBM currently plans to continue to support Blue Box clients and enhance their technologies while allowing these organizations to take advantage of the broader IBM portfolio. […]
MyPOV – Key statement. Blue Box customers should contact IBM asap to make sure they can keep the services that matter to them.


Overall MyPOV

A good move for IBM, opens new service offerings to the IBM Cloud portfolio. Given the recent acquisition at EMC and Cisco, it looks like the private cloud is alive and well. To a certain point that is a failure of ‘pure’ public cloud players like AWS and Google, it looks like they have not been able to convince CIOs to move all their load to a public cloud setup. Will be interesting how the mix of private cloud – e.g. the ones managed with BlueBox – vs public cloud will end up in a few years. And IBM listens to customers, wants more cloud revenue, so as much as it can get that running private clouds, IBM will of course do that…