Organizations can select the company’s high end servers for infrastructure development and application hosting

LAS VEGAS – As IBM Corp. transitions its applications to the cloud the importance of its SoftLayer infrastructure as a service division is becoming more evident.

SoftLayer not only will be the platform on which all IBM applications and services will run – such as its Maximo SaaS and BlueMix suites talked about here at the company’s annual Pulse conference – but also to host applications from other businesses.

To give another lure to developers IBM said Tuesday that its high end Power Systems servers will soon be available for hosting and developing applications on SoftLayer, and the first services organizations will be able to build apps around will be from its Watson analytics engine.

To start, developers will be able to leverage three Watson services: Discovery Advisor (for researchers in industries like pharmaceuticals to analyze research articles and studies) Watson Engagement Advisor (which will go through customer data and presents results of queries in easy to interpret visual formats) and Watson Development Cloud (a platform as a service that contains the technology, tools, SDKs and APIs that enable third parties to design, develop and deploy cognitive applications).

Tom Rosamilia, IBM’s senior vice-president of systems and technology, told the conference that IBM’s Cognos analytics solutions and its DB2 Blu with Acceleration for Power Systems – which boosts the speed of analytics on the DB2 database — will also soon be available as SaaS options from SoftLayer. In addition bare metal Power Systems will be an infrastructure on demand option from SoftLayer.

Power Systems use IBM’s Power7+ RISC-based CPUs running Linux, AIX or IBM I operating systems.

“The performance and efficiencies inherent in Power Systems are a real game-changer — particularly when it comes to building out modern, adaptable cloud environments that can handle the next level of Big Data coming our way,” SoftLayer CEO Lance Crosby said in a statement. “The combination of SoftLayer and Power Systems will allow us to take cloud computing to a new level, providing customers with services they hadn’t thought were possible.”

In an interview, Power Systems division general manager Doug Balog said the announcement acts on IBM’s promise to bring Watson’s intelligent query capabilities to the cloud. App developers will be able to use their company’s data or a Watson Content Store with third party content.

One company that has used Watson when it was a on-premise service is MD Buyline, which provides healthcare institutions with information for buying medical devices. Watson powers an online “research assistant” that gives product recommendations.

Through SoftLayer, developers would use Watson as a cloud service.

IBM (NYSE: IBM) also announced a Platform Computing Cloud Service, a ready-to-run cluster in the cloud – complete with workload management, SoftLayer infrastructure and the support of a dedicated cloud operations team.

Subscriber organizations can rapidly extend resources to physical, non-shared infrastructure in the SoftLayer cloud to quickly accommodate peaks in demand without being concerned about performance, IBM said.

The announcements are part of a message IBM has been putting out here that making its products and services available in the cloud is the way the company is heading.

Mainframe users haven’t been left out. The company announced IBM Wave for z/VM, a virtualization management tool for overseeing z/VM and Linux virtual servers to make first-time private cloud deployments easier. Wave automates tasks in Linux on System z servers.

The change has impressed some industry analysts here. Monday’s statement that virtually everything IBM has will be running on Softlayer “is the biggest announcement it’s made in 30 years,” said Julie Craig, research director for application management at Enterprise Management Associates. “I’m surprised at the breadth of what they’re doing because they’ve been so focused on on-premise software until now.”

 

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