IBM Consolidates Cloud Platforms to Strengthen Strategies in Hybrid/Multi-Cloud and Blockchain

C. Dunlap

Summary Bullets:

  • IBM Cloud Integration Platform represents more integration capabilities (MQ, Event Streams, API Connect, App Connect) and a public cloud presence.
  • Continued innovation in integration is critical for IBM’s broader cloud strategy founded on IBM Cloud Private (ICP), which now serves as its multi-cloud management offering.
  • IBM released a free beta version of its blockchain platform, componentized to work with Kubernetes containers and operate in hybrid and multi-cloud environments and emphasizing a network-agnostic approach.

At the core of IBM’s cloud strategy is ICP, released a year ago to manage Docker and Kubernetes containers. This year, during last week’s Think conference, the platform’s role graduated to that of multi-cloud management, enabled through best-in-class IBM Cloud Integration Platform and the new IBM Cloud App Platform (WebSphere Liberty solutions which we expect will eventually merge with Red Hat JBoss app platforms). For the past 18 months, GlobalData has noted the importance of dominating the private/hybrid cloud space in order to gain a foothold in the broader multi-cloud ecosystem and carry more influence in modern app development technologies and models.

Here is a quick recap of IBM’s most important DevOps events during Think 2019. For greater detail, please see “IBM Cloud Integration Platform and Cloud App Platform Bring Portable Multi-Cloud Management; Solution Will Leverage Red Hat Management and Middleware Tech.”

Integration

IBM’s multi-cloud management focus in its update of Cloud Integration Platform reinforces the fact that enterprises are facing high costs associated with administrative maintenance, while developers contend with high learning curves in integration of apps with backend systems. New digital transformation projects have resulted in a kind of integration sprawl which can head upwards into the hundreds and thousands of application and data integrations for some IBM customers. Operations’ lack of visibility in order to manage and maintain apps means increased risk around data security and governance issues.

Within the updated Cloud Integration Platform, IBM is looking to meet developers where they are in the continuum of modernizing applications, allowing developers to participate at their particular level of integration abilities while being able to focus on rapid iteration of app development. This is enabled through the exposure of APIs and tools to create microservices and functions out of those backend integrations. This entire solution is built on ICP, which includes hundreds of pre-built connectors for improved API sharing among developers. Under the new platform, more integration capabilities are brought together, including a new licensing mechanism and a public cloud presence. Cloud Integration Platform is a single install, which includes ICP, as well as IBM’s integration technology, IBM MQ, IBM Event Streams, IBM API Connect/App Connect, and IBM Aspera.

Blockchain

Late last year, IBM began offering its blockchain technology on non-IBM clouds under an AWS QuickStart model as well as optimizing the platform for its own clouds including ICP. Last week, during IBM Think, the company continued its interoperability messaging, featuring a free beta version of Blockchain Platform 2.0, componentized to work with Kubernetes containers and operate in hybrid and multi-cloud environments, and emphasizing a network-agnostic approach (along with a new licensing model).

We are now entering a time of what IBM calls the ‘network of networks,’ which represents the vendor-agnostic, decentralized network which blockchain has always promised. The industry is not yet there, but ultimately this will be achieved through compatibility between Fabric and Ethereum (via Ethereum Virtual Machine/Solidity), with key blockchain participants and communities moving in that direction. For example, initial efforts are underway through the sharing of smart contracts, enabled through the partnership between Hyperledger and Enterprise Ethereum Alliance late last year to ensure interoperability between solutions. Similarly, last year, IBM joined HACERA’s registry network, which provides companies with access to existing blockchain networks and solutions built on various frameworks including Hyperledger Fabric, Ethereum Quorum, R3 Cordova, and others. Participating vendors include IBM, Oracle, Microsoft, SAP, and others.

Summary

By establishing a strong private/hybrid cloud strategy, IBM has provided enterprises with an anchor to their business transformation projects, which will now be able to pull in multi-cloud capabilities for more efficient containerized workload deployments and which will serve as the platform that enables modern application architectures including microservices and serverless computing. These advanced architectures are capable of supporting new app development models to facilitate blockchain, IoT, AI, etc., enabled through integration and API technology. They are more vital than ever to unify application and platforms lifecycle management (APLM) throughout the cloud stack, including connections to networks and edge computers such as those associated with blockchain and IoT.

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