As companies search for ways to modernize their technology stacks, they struggle with managing the legacy software (and hardware) inside their own data centers. IBM introduced a new private cloud product today that is supposed to ease the transition to cloud computing and containerization and place those legacy applications in a more modern IT management context.
IBM Cloud Private wants to help customers take IBM middleware and other legacy applications, place them inside containers and transform them into contemporary applications to take advantage of containers and container orchestration run by Kubernetes — and all the flexibility that offers them.
IBM isn’t alone in this approach, just the latest to offer a solution, but it’s particularly critical for a legacy vendor like IBM because the new product offers a path for maintaining older IBM middleware products like Websphere without forcing long-time customers to completely rip and replace.
Of course, updating the old stuff is only part of the motivation here. It’s also about making it easier to move the cloud. The whole idea of cloud native computing is to provide a consistent way of managing your IT stack, whether your applications are in the cloud, your own data center or moving between the two.
Some companies want to stay in the cozy confines of their own data centers for a variety of reasons from performance or governance to a belief that they are more secure there (whether that’s true or not). Cloud Private (and products like it) lets them do that while giving them a cloud-like management experience.
Essentially, IBM wants to give IT the best of both worlds by providing a way to build APIs to connect cloud services like Salesforce with the in-house data center and share data with those legacy applications. It also enables them to to manage the legacy applications in a modern way by moving them to containers, while using Kubernetes as a management layer.
Kubernetes is the open source container orchestration tool originally developed by Google. It now lives at the Cloud Native Computing Foundation and has been embraced by just about every major tech company out there from AWS to Oracle and Microsoft to VMware and Pivotal (both of which are now part of Dell-EMC) — and that’s just the most recent members.
All of these companies want to bring cloud native computing to their customers, much like IBM is doing with their offering today, but IBM probably has other motivations. According to data released by Synergy Research last week, IBM remains the number three cloud infrastructure provider by virtue of its strength in private cloud services. What Synergy also finds, however is that IBM’s cloud business isn’t growing rapidly, especially compared to competitors.
This product could be an attempt to exploit that position, and help grow its marketshare, while also acknowledging the need to help customers move to a more modern computing environment. If IBM’s middleware customer base is willing to take the leap, it could help achieve both goals.