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IBM and Microsoft Join Forces on Hybrid Cloud

October 24, 2014

As noted in a previous posting on moves being made by major industry players to be the preferred vendors for all things cloud, this past week has seen a full-frontal assault on the market by Microsoft. In fact, following up on its own vision and enhancements to its portfolio of cloud solutions, it reached out to a typically fierce competitor—none other than IBM—to help customers cross the chasm and accelerate their move to the cloud for (pardon the pun) virtually “E”verything.

The two giants have put the guns back in the holsters—at least when it comes to hybrid cloud implementations—and are helping their customers take the leap to the cloud where there is intensive overlap. This is based on the recognition that said customers have heterogeneous computing and communications environments and want to have choices as to their cloud needs, and are at various stages in determining an executive what, where, when, why, how and with whom they would like to place mission-critical applications in the cloud.

This collaboration is designed not just to provide options. The new collaboration is also being positioned as the vehicle that will “help clients and developers move to the cloud faster and seize new business opportunities."

Relationships matter

What IBM and Microsoft announced is that they are working together to provide their respective enterprise software on Microsoft Azure and IBM Cloud. Specifically, the relationship according to the partners is designed to provide the following client benefits:

  • IBM and Microsoft will make key IBM middleware such as WebSphere Liberty, MQ, and DB2 available on Microsoft Azure.  
  • Windows Server and SQL Server will be offered on IBM Cloud.
  • IBM and Microsoft are working together to deliver a Microsoft .NET runtime for IBM's Bluemix cloud development platform.
  • To support hybrid cloud deployments, IBM will expand support of its software running on Windows Server Hyper-V, and the companies plan to make IBM Pure Application Service available on Azure.

"Together we are creating new opportunities to drive innovation in hybrid cloud," said Robert LeBlanc, senior vice president of Software and Cloud Solutions Group, IBM. "This agreement reinforces IBM's strategy in providing open cloud technology for the enterprise. Clients will now gain unprecedented access to IBM's leading middleware and will have an even greater level of choice over the tools that they use to build and deploy their cloud environments."

"Microsoft is committed to helping enterprise customers realize the tremendous benefits of cloud computing across their own systems, partner clouds and Microsoft Azure," said Scott Guthrie, executive vice president, Cloud and Enterprise, Microsoft. "With this agreement more customers will be able to take advantage of the hyper-scale, enterprise performance and hybrid capabilities of Azure." 

A not insignificant part of the story here is on giving customers the opportunity to reduce costs by enabling customers to bring their own software licenses to the IBM and Microsoft clouds. As noted for example, Microsoft will offer IBM middleware software licenses, such as WebSphere Liberty, MQ and DB2, to Azure customers with pay-per-use pricing.

It should also be noted that while the companies will make IBM Pure Application Service available on both Microsoft Azure and IBM SoftLayer for automated deployment, configuration and license management in a hybrid cloud environment, this is an expansion of IBM SoftLayer support of Microsoft software. IBM SoftLayer already supports such Microsoft solutions as Windows Server, Hyper-V, WebMatrix, Windows Firewall, SQL Server and others.

There is an old saying: “If you can’t beat them, join them.” Since we really are in an era where customers are increasingly dictating market requirements, including the need to support environments that are open and interoperable as well as cost-efficient and secure, as recent events highlight collaboration has become the order of the day. Politics may make strange bedfellows, but when it comes to cloud capabilities and the desire of the entire cloud vendor solutions community to increase interest in customers transforming their businesses, there is actually nothing strange about this and other collaborations.  

Edited by Alisen Downey

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