Only three months or so ago, the cloud world was interested to learn that IBM, already a strong player in the various open-source cloud initiatives in existence, was acquiring the small but influential OpenStack vendor Blue Box. At the time, many commented that it was a good investment — Blue Box has, after all, built itself a good reputation in the OpenStack ecosystem and grown a level of credibility that was probably larger than its business presence would have indicated.
So take Blue Box's credibility, and apply IBM's resource base and brand awareness, and you potentially had an excellent combination. With the provisos, of course, that the Blue Box deal didn't get lost in a sea of big business bureaucracy and politics, and that the various factions that invariably exist within a large company like IBM didn't smother the life out of the fledgling operation.
It would seem we have an answer to that question today, and IBM is justifiably proud that less than 90 days post acquisition, Blue Box's offering has been integrated into IBM's broader portfolio of OpenStack solutions. Blue Box (now known as IBM Blue Box, Powered by OpenStack) is now available from any IBM cloud data center that is running SoftLayer, a cloud infrastructure offering that itself is the result of an acquisition. SoftLayer is also, as an aside, another good example of IBM doing the right thing by an acquisition — feeding and nurturing it, but avoiding the temptation to exert control over it.
Using Blue Box, IBM customers can, theoretically, obtain a consistent infrastructure offering that spans public, private and hybrid delivery models. It also, appealingly, offers a consistent management tool for a customer's OpenStack-based private cloud, no matter where the customer is located.
It's a nice solution — customers get their own OpenStack private cloud, but sitting on dedicated servers (for those who still consider physical tin to be important). More importantly, users gain specificity and granularity in terms of where in the world their infrastructure resides — a boon to those who either have valid regulatory reasons or less-valid perception reasons to consider data location important.
The converted would seem to have bought into this vision and the existence of an agile and quick-to-take-action IBM. Hardly a neutral party, but CTO of Blue Box (and a rich man, post-acquisition) Jesse Proudman commented that “I’ve been impressed by the way the IBM and Blue Box engineering teams have collaborated to quickly bring Blue Box Cloud to a worldwide infrastructure platform. Today, we’ve taken a big step toward our goal of delivering private cloud to customers anywhere in the world — and we’re offering deployment timelines that are unheard of within traditional private cloud.”
Inside baseball aside, this is a pretty impressive integration effort given all the different moving parts involved. It will be interesting to see the uptake that IBM sees for its new, Blue Box-infused, offering.
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