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June 05, 2013

What Does IBM Acquiring SoftLayer Mean for Mid-Market Security?

In case you haven’t heard yet, IBM has bought hosting and cloud provider SoftLayer for two ($2b) billion dollars. That is a lot of money by anyone’s measuring stick. Much has been written about how this gives IBM a real cloud offering to its customers and partners.

Of course IBM already operated data centers (10 of them actually, compared to SoftLayer’s 13), but SoftLayer is major brand and player in the hosting marketplace and an up and comer in cloud hosting. While not an Amazon or Rackspace in terms of public cloud, they have built a sizeable private cloud hosting practice up over the last few years. They use both CloudStack from the Apache Foundation, as well as the open source OpenStack, which IBM has backed. But what about security?

Perhaps unbeknownst to many, SoftLayer had built a great security offering into their cloud and hosting solutions. I have had the chance to interview SoftLayer CTO Duke Skarda several times. I have learned that security has been built into the DNA of the SoftLayer cloud and infrastructure. While they also offered security as a service offerings from several third parties, there was substantial security technology in the SoftLayer plumbing itself.

As a result IBM customers and partners can rest assured that using the SoftLayer platform will afford them the ability to utilize a secure, scalable and battle-tested platform. On top of this it should not be long until we see IBM’s own security services integrated into the SoftLayer solutions.

In the long run this means that IBM customers and partners will see benefits from the deal pretty quickly. Longer term I think IBM has set a mark for the market to follow. Service providers like IBM and others offered cloud solutions. However, many of these were deployed on third party hosting platforms. Now that IBM has made the move, others will follow. These service providers will offer cloud services on their own platforms.

We will probably see some me too moves here with large IBM competitors buying other hosting and cloud providers. Conversely it may be that large cloud and hosting providers seek to acquire service businesses that they can leverage as a result of their hosting business.

Specifically on security though few hosting providers have SoftLayers quality. If security is important to you (and who is security not important to?), you will be hard pressed to find a better offering than SoftLayers’. Now with IBM behind it, it represents a great choice for midmarket companies.


This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

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