IBM (International Business Machines Corporation), the global computing company that established one of the first PC computers, made history once again in the age of cloud computing by acquiring SoftLayer cloud in 2013. SoftLayer, which was founded in 2005, offered bare-metal compute service before any other large provider companies at the time.
It is very difficult to speak comprehensively about any large cloud computing provider in the space of a singular article, so I’ll try to summarize the main talking points as much as possible. Most importantly, I want to emphasize that the cloud is not only about storage as is the common stereotype; storage is one of tens of cloud services offered. Keep in mind, as you read this article, that IBM Cloud is a large world, bigger than any large application, operating system, or hosting services you have ever heard of. This guide will be a good start to understanding that “world” and its various offerings for developers.
What is IBM Cloud?
IBM cloud services are a full-stack consisting of a huge collection of more than 170 products and cloud computing services for business-to-business (B2B) organizations, which are deployed around the world. As is the case with many other universal cloud computing services – such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud – IBM Cloud includes the three main service models (or types) of cloud computing. These include: infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), and, recently, software as a service (SaaS), with a special focus on (IaaS). It is also offered through the deployment models of public, private, and hybrid cloud.
IBM Cloud computing provides its services for startups that have small development teams, alongside large enterprise businesses and organizations. In addition to public, private, and hybrid cloud delivery models, it positions these services within three umbrellas: SmartCloud Foundation, SmartCloud Services, and SmartCloud Solutions, in order to increase productivity and effectiveness.
IBM Cloud Features
With IBM Cloud computing, companies and organizations can choose from many resources, which are constructed for heavy-duty computing needs, such as:
- Deploying and accessing virtualized IT resources, including not only cloud storage but also networking and computing power.
- Choosing between bare-metal or virtual servers (PaaS) based on the Cloud Foundry cloud platform.
- IBM cloud services can be used by developers for programming and deploying many kinds of applications either on the public cloud or on-premises.
- Supports most popular programming languages and scripts including Python, PHP, Java, Node.js, and so forth.
- Building various types of databases, from SQL to NoSQL.
- Creating AI and machine learning solutions, robotic visual recognition, and natural language processing APIs.
- Deploying Blockchain technology-based solutions.
- Implementing strong cloud security to the core.
- Implementing a pay-as-you-use pricing approach.
IBM Cloud Services
As we mentioned above, cloud services from large companies are usually a world without borders or a bottomless ocean. The following list is merely an attempt to confine the most common and important IBM Cloud Services in addition to some third-party vendors’ support services.
IBM computing and services are distributed – but not limited to – three main fields of high computing solutions, including:
- Bare metal servers, virtual cloud servers, dedicated mass storage servers, and SAP Certified infrastructure.
- VMware solutions to enable migrating from on-premise.
- Container registry with Docker container, Kubernetes service, and Serverless platform Functions.
IBM Cloud Networking gives you a high-performance bouquet of services, which include:
- Public, private, hybrid networks.
- Load balancers, firewalls, and VPN tunnels.
- Content delivery network (CDN).
- Secure encrypted data network.
- Integrating cloud and on-premises systems by App Connect and IBM Secure Gateway.
IBM cloud storage is not only for files; it provides scalable, highly secure, and low-cost options, including database and storage of Big Data, to make it easier to deploy services such as:
- Access objects storage solutions for SQL and NoSQL.
- Block storage, and NFS-based file-share solution up to 12 TB.
- File storage NFS-based file-share solution that scalable and backed by flash.
- Document store Cloudant to process heavy loads concurrent for NoSQL JSON.
Cloud Analytics and Developer Tools
IBM Cloud provides core Analytics services and solutions that enable you to analyze, track events, and monitor all of your analyzing needs, from security to products. The IBM Bluemix cloud also contains an analytics engine mixed with Apache Spark & Hadoop services, especially suitable for hybrid cloud options.
For developers, some consider IBM Cloud a paradise in terms of workspaces. Programmers are known to have an efficient deployment of code in less time than normal. Carrying out Continuous Integration, deployment, and delivery processes is easier, thanks to the ability to make analytics and analysis on streaming data.
Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning, IoT, and Mobile
IBM’s AI Watson is well known as one of the most amazing machine learning APIs ever created; it provides many AI-based innovations. in addition to running IoT backends, this technology includes the following:
- Virtual assistants.
- Text to speech.
- Visual recognition.
- Natural language processing.
- Deep learning.
- Manage analytics on the data ingested from IoT devices.
- IBM Weather API 5.
- Building mobile applications and their back-end components.
- Providing IBM’s Blockchain Platform to develop Blockchain apps.
Management and Security
IBM Cloud Includes (and provides) many tools and services for active management and tracking of all resources for management, administrative, security, and financial aspects. This is achieved using log analysis, automation, Infrastructure as Code (IaC), identity and access management, and advanced authentication solutions.
What Makes IBM Different?
According to Gartner, one of the most well-known rating websites, IBM Cloud has an overall rating overview of 4.3 from 269 Reviews. But money users and reviewers argue that IBM deserves more ratings.
IBM says that it’s better than other cloud provider competitors in three main aspects:
- Computing: The number of bare metal servers from IBM deployed around the world is the highest, in addition to more customization and NVIDIA GPU options for bare metal.
- With more management and monitoring features included.
- Network services: Integrated global private network, with fastest DNS and CDN, and unlimited private network bandwidth for all servers.
- Storage: 48K max IOPS for block, with lower-cost block and file for high I/O workloads. With flex deployment for unstructured data.
Why is IBM Cloud Not More Popular?
In the cloud computing world, we mostly hear about the other big players, such as AWS, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure, but rarely do we hear about IBM as a cloud provider. However, the reality is that IBM is considered one of the major cloud providers but appears to be lurking in the shadows.
Below is the yearly revenue of the largest cloud providers as of 2019:
- Google Cloud: $8.918 Billion.
- Amazon Cloud AWS: $35.026 Billion.
- Microsoft Azure: $33.7Billion.
- IBM Cloud: $21.2 Billion.
According to some observers, the reasons that IBM Cloud is underrated may be the following:
- Less Marketing for IBM Cloud
- IBM plays in the higher leagues: By providing mostly for Fortune 500 companies, globally.
- IBM Cloud joined the party late: IBM Cloud entered the cloud market for the public audience later than others.
- Internal implementation: IBM has its own staff of engineers and technology experts who do implementations for their clients. So there is no need for small-medium software houses.
- IBM performs specific implementations: With its specific clients’ requirements, IBM services are designed to cater to specific use cases.