IBM SoftLayer logos

IBM drops SoftLayer brand, moves cloud offerings to Bluemix

Today, we’re excited to share the next big step in SoftLayer’s evolution as part of the IBM Cloud portfolio: IBM Bluemix is integrating SoftLayer products and services into its vast catalog of infrastructure, platform, and application services!

The SoftLayer products, services, tools, systems, and support you know and love will become a cornerstone of a unified Bluemix cloud experience that delivers the performance, flexibility, and consistency of SoftLayer infrastructure alongside the extensive catalog of cloud resources that include IBM Watson services, development runtimes, containers, database services, and more.

More: SoftLayer Blog – The future of SoftLayer is bright. And it’s Bluemix.

Not a huge surprise, almost all IBM acquisitions get blue-rinsed eventually, and usually within the first 24 months.  SoftLayer has actually lasted longer than most, with the $2bn purchase being announced in June 2013.  There are definitely important synergies and opportunities for the legacy SoftLayer PaaS offerings to be merged with legacy Bluemix offerings, and for them to all to be available from a single unified cloud platform. In theory this will allow BlueMix to compete on a more level playing field with competitive platforms such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft’s Azure portfolio.

However, I would argue that the SoftLayer brand is very much stronger than that of BlueMix. Whilst the latter is starting to become better known amongst enterprise DevOps over the past year or so, in my experience, the BlueMix name and brand does not have anywhere near the wider market acceptance that SoftLayer had prior to acquisition, and (to IBM’s credit) has retained or even improved since.

As IBM drops such a well-known and well-respected brand, it will need to significantly ramp up on marketing and awareness campaigns around the benefits of the wider BlueMix portfolio to existing hosting/PaaS customers, else the danger will be that previously loyal customers see the death of SoftLayer as a reason to at least look elsewhere before committing to a potentially more complex IBM cloud services relationship going forward.

One thing that IBM definitely has done right this time is to align this branding announcement with a significant technology change. This week sees the launch of the new Unified Cloud Platform, allowing SoftLayer customers to manage all their servers alongside BlueMix resources in the same administration panels using a single IBM ID:

To start, go to www.ibm.com/bluemix, where you will discover that Bluemix is more than a PaaS solution. Bluemix is a complete cloud platform that includes app runtimes, services, and infrastructure. In other words, the Bluemix moniker now encompasses Bluemix services and SoftLayer offerings like bare metal servers. Here you will find details and be able to order bare metal servers, virtual servers, object storage, and other infrastructure offerings you previously ordered from SoftLayer’s website.

As always with changes like these, we’ll need to allow things to settle down before knowing the impact on customers and prospects. I look forward to reporting back in 6 months or so!

RIP SoftLayer. Long live IBM BlueMix.

Stuart McIntyre is a Senior Strategist at Fostering Community Limited. He curates a number of product-focused news sites, is a lapsed podcaster, founded the Social Connections user group and regularly speaks at conferences and events. This blog represents his own slightly-eccentric and usually-controversial opinions!