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IBM throws open doors of XaaS supermarket

'Cloud marketplace' aims to outflank mere cloud convenience from AWS et al

Columns of coins in the cloud

IBM has thrown open the doors of its “cloud marketplace” a software-and-infrastructure-and-platform-as-a-service supermarket that offers its own and third party products.

The marketplace has three main elements.

The foundation is the familiar SoftLayer infrastructure-as-a-service service, which like rivals from AWS, Google, Microsoft and Rackspace allows customers to spin up cloudy servers and then discard them whenever it suits.

A new piece of the Big Blue cloud is the Bluemix platform-as-a-service play. Bluemix is based on Pivotal's CloudFoundry and offers its rapid deployment of rigs that are ready to run apps, as distinct from the IaaS modus operandi of rolling one's own servers. Bluemix also offers lots of IBM middleware, plus new services tailored to those who wish to jump on the Big Data and/or Internet of Things bandwagons.

The marketplace itself is a SaaS shopfront blending IBM's own software and that of its partners.

Big Blue's hinted at most of this stuff for months, so the fact it has now hit the On switch is a milestone rather than a revelation. The launch does, however, put IBM in the cloud game like never before and does so in a powerful way: the likes of AWS have reached out to independent software developers to help them deliver cloudy subscription services, but IBM has been helping that crowd get to market for decades and probably represents a more comfortable on-ramp to the cloud.

Combining PaaS, IaaS and SaaS also gives IBM plenty of breadth and depth, again a useful distinction.

Another thing in IBM's favour is its deep roots in enterprise IT departments. Cloudy contenders have clearly done well with startups, those that need to operate at web scale and pockets within IT departments. IBM can now satisfy those users' needs but also conduct conversations that go well beyond infrastructure simplification and cost-cutting.

IBM has to be in this game: it is stunningly clear that IT departments are evaporating their on-premises software and kit at a rapid rate.

Yet IBMers of your correspondent's acquaintance despair about Big Blue's marketing and its ability, or lack thereof, to bring in new buyers. The workers central complaint is just how endless ads about smarter planets translate into demand from enterprise buyers. It will be interesting to see how much marketing muscle IBM swings behind its new cloudy capers and how it positions them against rivals.

IBM sent The Reg an infographic about the launch, which perhaps shows it is getting hip with the cool-and-cloudy kids. Will that be enough to help it catch its rivals? ®

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