In a move that brings together the portfolio of cloud services it currently offers, IBM introduced its Cloud marketplace at the IBM Impact Conference in Las Vegas today. "Very different than an app store in that traditional sense," IBM's Cloud marketplace will consolidate the 100 applications it offers on a software-as-a-service basis, its BlueMix platform-as-a-service, and the SoftLayer cloud computing infrastructure it recently acquired by making the solutions available in one place, Steve Robinson, IBM's general manager of cloud platform services, says.
The Cloud marketplace consists of three sections, each devoted to meeting the needs of business leaders, developers, and IT managers. On the marketplace's landing page, the offerings are grouped into Biz, Dev, and Ops categories. Though it is modeled after an app store experience, the marketplace is designed to give customers an opportunity to explore the applications' capabilities further than an app store would, Robinson explains. "We are working on adding more knowledge assets and sharing resources such as links to developers' comments or helpful videos so that our customers can really try out the technology. They can also try out the code and see how it works before they commit to it," he says.
As its competitors continue to expand and strengthen their cloud offerings IBM took a step to ensure it was ready for next generation enterprise needs. "Marketplaces are key for next generation platforms. Today's announcement is the logical consequence of IBM's vision to enable the API economy. With Bluemix, Softlayer, and more than 100 SaaS applications, IBM has all the ingredients for a marketplace," Holger Mueller, vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research, says. In addition to offering IBM's collection of SaaS services, the marketplace will also feature SaaS services of third-party providers, including those on SoftLayer, such as Zend Technologies, SendGrid, MongoDB, NewRelic, Redis Labs, Sonian, Flow Search Crop, Twilio, and Ustream.
The marketplace is a "new journey" for IBM, Robinson says, and the company will "continue to work on its evolution." The overall direction, however, appears to be toward the consumerization of the cloud, Ray Wang, vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research, suggests. "The marketplace is going to be a way for IBM's business partners to get their IP out to other IBM customers...before the marketplace existed, they didn't get enough distribution, so this is a platform for them," he says. Robinson agrees, echoing the sentiment that some consumerization is expected. Still, IBM is eager to embrace the heterogeneity the marketplace will create. "Anything that brings us closer to our partner community is a good thing," he says.
The move is an exciting one for IBM, analysts agree, and one that has the potential to position the company as a leader when it comes to comparable app marketplaces. "When you consider IBM's large professional services capacity, you probably see the largest marketplace coupled with professional services that is available for enterprises," Mueller says.