IBM SoftLayer is a public cloud computing platform that offers a range of services, including those for compute, networking, storage, security and application development. Cloud administrators and users access IBM SoftLayer services over the Internet or through a dedicated network connection.
IBM SoftLayer is largely considered infrastructure as a service (IaaS), a form of cloud computing in which a third-party provider hosts hardware, software and other infrastructure components on its users' behalf.
For compute, IBM SoftLayer provides various bare-metal and virtual server configurations, along with an assortment of operating systems, hypervisors and database platforms. The virtual server configurations are available in either a single- or multi-tenant model, whereas the bare-metal server configurations are available in a single-tenant model only.
IBM SoftLayer cloud storage offerings include block, file, object and backup services. Network services include load balancing, direct links – which provide a private connection to a SoftLayer data center -- domain services and virtualized network appliances.
Additional IBM SoftLayer services include security offerings, such as firewalls and SSL certificate management, as well as application development services, like a messaging queue and digital transcoding.
IBM SoftLayer offers a high level of integration and automation. Admins can manage and integrate all elements of the service through a proprietary application programming interface (API), web portal and mobile applications. Additional tools allow administrators to move and scale bare-metal and virtualized server images, as needs change.
IBM SoftLayer is broadly regarded as a competitor to other public cloud platforms, including Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform. IBM SoftLayer differentiates itself by stressing admins' ability to provision granular resources at the data center level, such as bare-metal servers. IBM SoftLayer maintains a fleet of data center and network operations locations across North America, Europe and Asia, which are connected through private network links.
In July 2013, IBM acquired Softlayer, which was originally founded in 2005. SoftLayer now forms the foundation for IBM's Cloud Services Division.