Definition

IBM Cloud (formerly IBM Bluemix and IBM SoftLayer)

Contributor(s): Kathleen Casey

IBM Cloud is a suite of cloud computing services from IBM that offers both platform as a service (PaaS) and infrastructure as a service (IaaS).

With IBM Cloud IaaS, organizations can deploy and access virtualized IT resources -- such as compute power, storage and networking -- over the internet. For compute, organizations can choose between bare-metal or virtual servers.

With IBM Cloud PaaS -- which is based on the open source cloud platform Cloud Foundry -- developers can use IBM services to create, manage, run and deploy various types of applications for the public cloud, as well as for local or on-premises environments. IBM Cloud supports various programming languages, such as Java, Node.js, PHP and Python and  extends to support other languages.

IBM Cloud products and services

IBM Cloud platform supports access to other IBM tools and services -- including IBM Watson and IBM Cloud Functions for serverless computing -- as well as those from third-party vendors.

The IBM Cloud Catalog lists over 170 services across categories, including:

  • Compute -- Offers various compute resources, including bare-metal servers, virtual servers, serverless computing and containers, on which enterprises can host their workloads;
  • Network -- Provides cloud networking services, such as a load balancer, a content delivery network (CDN), virtual private network (VPN) tunnels and firewalls;
  • Storage -- Offers object, block and file storage for cloud data;
  • Management -- Provides tools to manage and monitor cloud deployments, such as those for log analysis, automation and Infrastructure as Code (IaC);
  • Security -- Includes services for activity tracking, identity and access management and authentication;
  • Data management -- Provides SQL and NoSQL databases, as well as data querying and migration tools;
  • Analytics -- Offers data science tools such as Apache Spark, Apache Hadoop and IBM Watson Machine Learning, as well as analytics services for streaming data;
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) -- Uses IBM Watson to deliver services such as machine learning, natural language processing and visual recognition;
  • Internet of things (IoT) -- Includes the IBM IoT Platform, which provides services that connect and manage IoT devices, and analyzes the data they produce;
  • Mobile -- Enables a development team to build and monitor mobile applications and their back-end components;
  • Developer tools -- Includes a command-line interface (CLI), as well as a set of tools for continuous delivery, continuous release and application pipelines;
  • Blockchain -- Provides IBM's Blockchain Platform, a software-as-a-service offering to develop apps, enforce governance and monitor a Blockchain network;
  • Integration -- Offers services to integrate cloud and on-premises systems, or various applications, such as API Connect, App Connect and IBM Secure Gateway;
  • Migration -- Provides tools to migrate apps to the cloud, such as IBM Lift CLI and Cloud Mass Data Migration;
  • VMware -- Enables the migration of VMware workloads into the cloud.

IBM Cloud deployment models

IBM offers three deployment models for its cloud platform:

Public: A public cloud that provides access to virtual servers in a multi-tenant environment. An enterprise can choose to deploy its applications in one or multiple geographical regions.

Dedicated: A single-tenant private cloud that IBM hosts in one of its data centers. An enterprise can connect to the environment using a direct network connection or virtual private network (VPN), and IBM manages the platform.

IBM Cloud Private: A version of the IBM platform that an organization deploys as a private cloud in its own data center behind a firewall.

IBM cloud iaas market, Worldwide IaaS Market Share, Q2 2017
Worldwide IaaS Market Share, Q2 2017

IBM Bluemix pricing

The exact cost of IBM Cloud varies depending on resource usage, deployment model, support and other factors. As of 2017, IBM offers three general pricing models. Lite is free and includes 256 MB of Cloudy Foundry memory, as well as 1 instance per plan. The Pay-as-you-go tier requires users to pay for cloud resources as they use them, and includes half a GB of runtime and container memory for free. The Subscription tier includes a fixed monthly bill and also provides custom discounted prices.

To better estimate costs, organizations have access to the IBM Cloud pricing  calculator.

IBM Cloud rebranding and competitors

In 2013, IBM acquired SoftLayer, a public cloud platform, to serve as the foundation for its IaaS offering. In October 2016, IBM rolled the SoftLayer brand under its Bluemix brand of PaaS offerings, giving users access to both IaaS and PaaS resources from a single console. In October 2017, IBM then rebranded its entire cloud portfolio as IBM Cloud.

IBM's main competitors in the cloud computing market include Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform.

This was last updated in May 2017

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