IBM’s cloud infrastructure is invisible to the man in the street but over the last few weeks the sight of a Hong Kong tram, decked out in IBM SoftLayer branding, may have caused a few curious looks. SoftLayer is the foundation of the IBM public cloud portfolio and we have been operating a SoftLayer data center in Hong Kong since the beginning of June last year. One year on it is worth taking a look to see where we’re come from and where we’re going with SoftLayer.
Just to recap, SoftLayer Technologies Inc was a start-up cloud infrastructure provider that IBM acquired in July 2013. At the beginning of last year we announced plans to invest a further US$1.2 billion to add another 15 SoftLayer data centers around the world, the first of which was actually here in Hong Kong. When combined with the 13 original SoftLayer sites and 12 existing IBM data centers that were put into the mix, the aim was bring the total to 40 by the end of 2015 but, in fact, it looks like we’ll hit 46 SoftLayer locations worldwide by year end at the present run rate.
Adding Value in Hong Kong
Having this kind of facility and capability in Hong Kong is a boon to the economy, strengthening the city’s appeal as a regional hub for overseas business and startups. According to Invest HK, 2014 was a record year for companies setting up shop here, with the department assisting 355 overseas and Mainland enterprises – a 5.4 per cent year-on-year increase. Suffice to say many companies in Hong Kong – from startups from large enterprises – have been reaping business benefits from the scalability, global connectivity and enterprise grade security of the SoftLayer platform.
For example 6waves – a leading global publisher of social and mobile games – has built its business on SoftLayer and now offers more than 300 games across five different platforms. Another startup, Insight Robotics, uses SoftLayer for high-volume on-demand analysis of data from 70 wildfire detection robots that are currently to protect more than 2,500 square kilometers of high-risk forest around the world. IBM is also helping global clients based in Hong Kong to manage and deliver their global infrastructure. One such case is a global consumer audio powerhouse that has migrated over 100 applications on three continents into the cloud. The migration is out of their local wiring closets and into the production grade data centers of SoftLayer in Hong Kong, Amsterdam and Houston.
Globalized, Standardized and On-Demand
On-demand cloud infrastructure provided by SoftLayer includes servers, storage, and networking all on a single platform, with full customer access and control giving users the ability to create their ideal infrastructure environment—public, private, as well as hybrid cloud—capable of supporting the most demanding applications and workloads.
One of the key attributes of SoftLayer data centers, and what has attracts the customers to our business cloud, is that they are built to a consistent, standardized format with each able to deliver the same portfolio of fully automated services. Network traffic within the worldwide backbone is also free – making data center failover and 24/7 service levels an affordable possibility for all applications.
Just few weeks after the Hong Kong DC went live we launched Bluemix, a US$1 billion PaaS offering to help developers build cloud applications, based on open standards such as OpenStack, Cloud Foundry and Docker. Then we committed a further US$1 billion into the IBM Watson Group to provide cloud-delivered cognitive API sets to the world’s most innovative developers through the Bluemix and SoftLayer platforms.
A Haven for Startups
As nearly 60 percent of developers today are building for the cloud, Bluemix is particularly interesting. It combines the strength of IBM’s middleware portfolio with a large number of open community services and tools and a vibrant developer ecosystem to offer a broad palette of development opportunities. A popular capability is DevOps in the cloud – an open, agile development model scalable from one-person startups to large enterprises.
That all adds up to a strong value proposition for start-ups and as an ex-startup SoftLayer has a good understanding of their needs. Since 2012 the SoftLayer Catalyst program has incubated more than 2,200 startups around the world, supporting them with mentorship, marketing and infrastructure services as they move from innovation to commercialization. We’ve since supplemented that program with the IBM Global Entrepreneur Program to support entrepreneurs beyond the technology development phase with go-to-market assistance and access to IBM’s extensive partner and client community globally.
What all this demonstrates is that with the combination of SoftLayer and IBM’s other capabilities clients can build and scale applications, from the smallest pilot requirements to the toughest big data workloads, from local client access to the global cloud platform, including enterprise grade security – right here and right now, and supported by our Hong Kong cloud team.
It’s been an incredible first year for our SoftLayer data center in Hong Kong, and more exciting years ahead for IBM Cloud!
Brian Groen, Cloud Business Executive