Now that IBM is achieving some critical mass in the cloud, the next major focus will be unifying the management of disparate cloud services.
IBM recently reported revenue of $79.1 billion for its most recent fiscal year, a decline of 1 percent year over year. But within that revenue mix, Big Blue also reported that cloud revenue now accounts for $17 billion, an increase of 24 percent year over year. All told, cloud services now accounts for 21 percent of IBM’s revenues, and the company’s “as-a-service” annual exit run rate was $10.3 billion, up 24 percent year over year. Those revenues include $9.3 billion delivered as a service and $7.8 billion for hardware, software and services.
IBM may not be in the same league as public cloud service providers such as Amazon Web Services (AWS). But the company is in a unique position to unify the management of public and private cloud computing services, said Rob Thomas, general manager for IBM Analytics.
Most organizations are implementing a multicloud computing strategy. That decision creates significant data management issues that need to be addressed by a more holistic approach to DevOps, Thomas said, noting that IBM is betting that being able to consistently port applications and data between clouds will emerge as major theme in the enterprise in 2018 that it is in a unique position to address.
Today, most organizations are managing each cloud service they engage in isolation. But, rather than decreasing costs, each cloud service engaged brings with it additional overhead. In fact, each new cloud service conspires to increase the total cost of IT ownership for IT organizations as they move to master the tools required to support it. Despite that issue, the inherent business and IT agility cloud services provide are too compelling to ignore. Thomas said the result will be a continued proliferation of cloud services that enterprise IT organizations will want to unify under a common data strategy that also extends to their legacy IT environments. Otherwise, there ends up being too much duplication of data and effort, he said.
Much of the effort to centralize the management of multiple cloud begins and ends with sound DevOps practices. The need to centralize the management of multiple clouds goes well beyond simply achieving cost synergies. Managing public and private clouds alongside legacy applications won’t be sustainable unless organizations modernize how they build, deploy, update and manage applications, Thomas said. Given the fact that each of those applications in turn increasingly will be made up of multiple microservices, modernizing the way the data that each of those services can access by extension also becomes critical, Thomas noted.
Of all the major cloud services providers, IBM is the only one focused on providing the tools and services needed to help IT organizations make that transition at the level of scale required, Thomas said, noting that, in addition to a raft of DevOps and data management tools IBM provides, the company has extended the DevOps managed services it provides to enable organizations to accelerate that transition.
It’s too early to say just yet how the rise of multicloud computing will transform enterprise IT. But it’s clear the days when the local data center was the primary focus of enterprise IT are long over.