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February 24, 2014

IBM Readies Major Investment in Platform-as-a-Service

IBM (News - Alert) has been surprisingly busy as of late, as issues of patents and investment carry on in earnest. But IBM showed off one more major investment coming up in the near term, as the company looked to put over $1 billion into a cloud platform-as-a-service (PaaS) system, bringing IBM's slate of middleware to the cloud, and looking to get IBM much more into a growing field.

The investment, meanwhile, is set to hit in several separate phases, starting with the launch of BlueMix, a PaaS platform that's currently in open beta. The BlueMix system is said to be one part IBM's own software and one part third-party technology, capped off with a mix of open technologies to produce a new and altogether different whole with plenty of useful features. BlueMix was, at last report, designed to make it easier for developers to get together enterprise applications, a development further supported by BlueMix's use of the SoftLayer (News - Alert) global cloud system.

Moreover, the new investment is also set to bring out the lineup of IBM's middleware tools like WebSphere by using SoftLayer to offer up what are being called “software patterns.” The software patterns system looks to improve on application deployment, making it easier to roll out new tools by improving the level of portability associated with applications in a hybrid cloud setup. Since IBM's middleware services cover a variety of sectors from mobile and Web apps to data management and integration tools, making said services easier to reach and put into practice should prove a welcome development. But IBM isn't finished just yet, as the investment is also set to cover the services on SoftLayer, adding to such mainstays as DevOps, Power Systems and Service Engage.

This isn't new territory for IBM, as the company puts a reported $6 billion into its R&D operations every year, and much of that investment goes right into cloud systems. Not so long ago, IBM was spotted laying a second $1 billion investment into Watson Group operations, and prior to that, the company was likewise spotted engaging in patent operations with Twitter (News - Alert), with the social media company getting in on better than 900 such patents which it promptly cross-licensed.

Research and development operations are, of course, vital for any operation that wishes to stay viable in the future. Even the greatest new development commonly has a shelf life; not only is the company that developed the item in question looking to top its own issues so as to remain ahead of the competition, but said competition is eager to top the offering so as to get a piece of a market established by the new issue in question. For IBM to put $1 billion into this newest round of R&D doesn't by itself prove much—that's about a sixth of its annual R&D budget, after all—but the fact that this newest round of investment is going toward the cloud—where much of IBM's previous investment was also spotted heading—only verifies the idea that IBM's expecting big things from cloud operations.

With a large quantity of acquisitions and development in the space, IBM seems to be out to take the cloud in no uncertain terms. The company has plenty of power backing it up, and with developments like Watson and the middleware group moving along, it seems like IBM may be in a position to be one of the biggest things in cloud systems around.

Edited by Alisen Downey

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