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IBM to open London data centre for Softlayer cloud expansion

Will have space to host more than 15,000 servers
Mon Jun 30 2014, 11:54

BIG BLUE'S Softlayer cloud division will open a data centre in London as part of a $1.2bn global expansion that will also see IBM add data centres in Paris and Frankfurt later this year.

The firm also said that its Bluemix development platform is now out of beta and generally available from Softlayer.

The opening of the new data centre is part of an expansion programme that IBM announced at the start of 2014, which will see the enterprise IT giant deliver cloud services from 40 data centres worldwide in 15 countries across the globe by the end of the year.

The London data centre, which was due to be operational by the end of June, will now come online sometime in July, IBM said. It will deliver additional capacity for IBM Softlayer cloud services, and its location near Chessington places it close to key customers in the City of London, according to the firm.

Steven Canale, Softlayer co-founder and now VP of Global Sales, said, "London has the headquarters of about a third of the biggest companies around the world, so it is obviously very fertile ground for many enterprise businesses, but this is part of our overall $1.2bn expansion, so we're not just building out here in London, it's around the globe."

Explaining the ambitious expansion programme, Canale said that prior to its acquisition by IBM, Softlayer had a large presence inside the US, but not such a significant presence internationally.

Now, Canale said, "The concept is to have a data centre that is 40ms or less [in latency] away from any customer in the world," he said.

Softlayer has become a central part of IBM's cloud strategy since the firm acquired it in a deal worth $2bn last year, and the firm is moving all of its cloud services onto Softlayer. In April, IBM announced Cloud Marketplace as a single point of access for all of its cloud services, including Bluemix, its platform-as-a-service (PaaS) aimed at developers.

Bluemix has reached general availability today, having been available as an open beta before.

Enterprises are seeing huge advantages to switching across to cloud services, according to Doug Clark, IBM cloud leader for UK and Ireland.

"The enterprises that are really getting cloud computing, the ones that are leading the pace, they are seeing twice the revenue performance compared to the rest of the pack, so they are disappearing off into the sunset. They're getting a competitive advantage and they are reducing TCO from it," he said.

The new London data centre will have capacity for more than 15,000 physical servers and will offer the full range of SoftLayer services, including bare metal servers, virtual servers, storage and networking.

Softlayer is almost unique among cloud providers in that it started out by offering bare metal servers on demand back in 2005, adding virtual servers later. Other providers such as Rackspace are now starting to offer bare metal in response to demand from customers for higher performance when deploying critical workloads in the cloud.

In fact, Softlayer's Infrastructure Management System (IMS) enables customers to operate a mixture of bare metal, private cloud and public cloud resources, all on the same platform via a single pane of glass, the firm said.

Canale said that IBM Softlayer is working towards offering IBM Power Systems via its cloud platform, plus an IBM Watson service running on Power.

Meanwhile, Clark said that IBM was looking to expand cloud services based around its System z mainframe line. "We're actually looking now at Linux on mainframe as a platform, just as we're doing with Power as part of our longer roadmap, so it's an ambition of ours," he said. µ


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