IBM flies to 18 billion turnover in the cloud

The goal could be reached this year. The group is one of the top 3 providers, behind Amazon and Microsoft.

IBM is racing against the clock to grow its cloud computing business as fast as possible . Its goal: to compensate for the reduction of its revenues generated by the traditional IT which has been pushing its turnover for 20 consecutive quarters . In 2016, the New York group posted sales of $ 79.9 billion, including $ 13.7 billion from the cloud. A result up 35%. In the first quarter of 2017, it remains on track with a 3.5 billion cloud CA, up 33 percent in one year. As for its recurring annual revenue (corresponding to subscriptions to its cloud services over 12 months), it now stands at $ 8.6 billion.

“We are still targeting the 35% growth in the cloud for 2017,” said Anthony Cirot, cloud director at IBM France. If this goal is achieved, the IT giant could then raise its revenue in this area to over $ 18 billion – a volume that would then potentially represent 20% of its total turnover.

In other words, the cloud is more than ever strategic for IBM. “With artificial intelligence , this is one of our priorities for growth, hence our baseline: Cloud & Cognitive,” says Anthony Cirot. To accelerate its deployment in the cloud, IBM claims to invest about $ 3 billion each year. Recall that the American firm is currently ranked third in this market , behind Amazon Web Services and Microsoft.

One brand, one platform: Bluemix

In recent months, IBM has sought to optimize the consistency and readability of its cloud offering. Last October, he announced the bundling of all its cloud services under the Bluemix brand – which was limited to the PaaS (Platform as a Service) field. This umbrella also now covers Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) from the acquisition of Softlayer, as well as IBM’s privately managed cloud environment, based on OpenStack.

“Investments will continue in IaaS”

Exit the brand Softlayer. A withdrawal that has not failed to raise questions about the market. Did the abandonment of this name herald IBM’s setting aside (see abandonment) of IaaS? The answer is no. “We will not disengage from IaaS and we will continue to invest in this area, especially as the performance levels we are committing to will require full control of this aspect,” argues Anthony Cirot.

Proof of this desire: in parallel with the consolidation of its cloud solutions around the Bluemix brand, IBM has also decided to make the infrastructure inherited from Softlayer (renamed Bluemix IaaS) the sole foundation of its entire cloud portfolio. “It’s a structuring choice that will enable us to make our technology more reliable,” said Anthony Cirot. In addition, the IBM IaaS is also used for another flagship product: the “Cross-Cloud” offer developed by the group in connection with VMware. A service that migrates a complete VMware stack, with all the applications it supports, to the Big Blue cloud. In France, Boursorama is one of the client companies in this offering.

PaaS records the strongest growth

However, it is not in the IaaS that IBM now records the strongest growth in its cloud offerings. “It’s on the PaaS that the acceleration is the most intense,” says Anthony Cirot. It must be said that IBM has continued to enrich this layer in recent years. It includes a myriad of solutions for developers: in the blockchain , containers (with the support of Docker and Kubernetes), Big Data (with Hadoop) … IBM artificial intelligence brick (Watson) is also based on it, as is the weather analysis offer from the acquisition of the Weather Company.

“We support many projects based on Bluemix PaaS in France, especially in industry or banking,” says Anthony Cirot. Among IBM’s French-based customers, Crédit Mutuel uses Watson, for example, to help its customer managers personalize their speech. As another example, SNCF uses Bluemix PaaS for its real-time rail supervision system. It uses it to aggregate and analyze data from thousands of sensors scattered throughout its network.

53 data centers around the world

What about IBM’s data center capabilities? In total, the IT giant has no less than 53 data centers around the world. In Europe, its server infrastructure is spread over 12 locations (see map below), including two in France – Ile-de-France and Montpellier.

In some locations, IBM has multiple data centers. This is the case in the London area, where the group has five, or in Frankfurt, where IBM claims two sites. © IBM

For the future, IBM has defined several priorities for investment. “We want to implement new models of engagement in the logic of the agreement that we signed with the Chinese group Wanda Internet Technology,” says Anthony Cirot. “Wanda will ship our cloud into its own data centers and market it as a white label.” Through this partnership that provides for the creation of a joint venture, IBM intends to boost the development of its public cloud in China. The firm of Virginia Rometty could repeat this type of approach with other partners on other geographical plates.

Create a “cognitive” cloud

Another axis of development in the line of sight: to multiply cloud services based on cognitive technologies. “Recently, for example, we have launched an AI-based Bluemix deployment automation tool with infrastructure as-coded logic, and we are also expanding Watson-based cognitive services. a personal assistant based on this technology to make life easier at work, “says Anthony Cirot. Lastly, in order to broaden its customer-focused historical customer base, IBM is also deploying support packages for start-ups. At its French headquarters in Bois-Colombes, the group set up an accelerator, for example, to guide start-ups in the implementation of applications backed by Bluemix. Centered onIoT , its first promotion had a dozen start-ups.