IBM to open London datacentre as part of $1.2bn global cloud push

New facility first in UK to be based on IBM SoftLayer cloud architecture

IBM has confirmed it will build a new cloud datacentre in London this year as part of a $1.2 billion global investment that includes opening 15 new cloud datacentres worldwide.

The move will bring IBM’s total number of global datacentres delivering cloud services to 40, including the 13 gained through its acquisition of cloud provider SoftLayer last year. The move will allow the company to offer locally-based cloud facilities to customers in all the world’s major financial centres and geographies.

Blogging on the announcement, Erich Clementi, senior vice-president of IBM Global Technology Services, said: “This will be the most comprehensive global cloud service any company has offered.”

The new London facility will be based on IBM SoftLayer cloud architecture, which the company sees as a key plank in its ambitions to address customers’ demands for more secure, reliable and speedy cloud environments.

Currently, IBM’s UK customers using SoftLayer do not have the option to keep workloads in the UK, although many are comfortable using IBM’s SoftLayer-based cloud datacentre is in Amsterdam. However, a London-based facility will open the market to customers who need or want to keep their workloads closer to home.

More on IBM's cloud ambitions

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  • Firms using cloud for competitive advantage double revenue, claims IBM study
  • IBM cloud VP talks SoftLayer and OpenStack

Doug Clark, IBM cloud leader for the UK and Ireland, said: “In some cases clients are still adamant they want a UK-based environment. For certain workloads it’s critical, but there’s also still some fear, uncertainty and doubt about exporting workloads overseas. The London datacentre should alleviate those worries.”

IBM’s only other UK cloud datacentre, in Portsmouth, will continue to operate on the company’s SmartCloud Enterprise Plus environment for the time being. Clark said although there was a lot of overlap, the two infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) environments were broadly appropriate for different types of customers and workloads.

“The SmartCloud Enterprise Plus environment we’re using in Portsmouth is a good fit for records-based workloads such as SAP and Oracle, although it is not black and white since you can also run those types of workloads in a SoftLayer environment. However, SoftLayer tends to be more appropriate for newer types of workload, such as mobility, social and analytics applications,” said Clark.

Clive Longbottom, founder and service director at analyst Quocirca, thought the cloud push would pay off for IBM. “This is a pretty important bet by IBM. The acquisition of SoftLayer gave it the basic platform and underpinnings for a renewed attack on the cloud market after its initial attempts as ‘pure’ IBM had not met with the universal respect and awe that it expected. Pumping over $1b into its portfolio is not just pocket money – IBM now means to get cloud right,” he said.

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