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IBM makes cheeky SNATCH at AWS's cloud crown

Gartner squints at Big Blue's 'truth-stretching' claims and agrees, mostly

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IBM has launched an offensive in which it claims it is the world's foremost cloud company.

Big Blue's claim hinges on a metric it has taken public, namely that it's cloud “powers 270,000 more websites than Amazon”. That message has appeared in ads placed in prominent financial newspapers and the like.

One such journal, Forbes, has labelled the claim “dodgy advertising” and accused it of “stretching the truth” because it is “a desperate move by a company that has failed to win the competitive battle based on innovation.”

That failure was made obvious last week when IBM killed off its own cloud and announced it would migrate customers to recently-acquired SoftLayer.

Ouch.

But Big Blue also has a friend on this occasion, with Gartner analyst Douglas Toombs taking the stance that the claims aren't spurious.

Toombs points out that IBM's claim relies on this data from hostcabi.net that does indeed show SoftLayer is streets ahead of Amazon Web Services in the web-hosting caper. But he also points out that SoftLayer dragged about $340m through the door last time it revealed annual revenue, while AWS probably generates about $2bn of cloudy cash each year. SoftLayer's web-hosting services are, he adds, sometimes resold by others at bargain basement prices. Even that effort leaves GoDaddy as the runaway leader in the market.

However many websites IBM hosts, there's also the small-but-important detail that AWS offers a diverse range of cloud enterprise services that separately and collectively challenge many IBM businesses.

Toombs concludes that while “the marketing team over at IBM is being accurate" but "they’re choosing a very specific view of the market as well.”

That sounds about right. Proving cloud capability means much, much more than the ability to host websites and IBM surely knows it. ®

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