IBM is making its focus on the hybrid cloud clear at its InterConnect conference in Las Vegas this week.

Big Blue has already announced a series of initiatives, including new releases and new functionality around existing releases, along with news about multiple new data centers. It also revealed plans to move at least half of its cloud development team into is hybrid cloud computing business.

The Hybrid Rises

It's been clear for at least a decade — maybe longer — that hybrid clouds are the first step toward cloud-only computing. In early 2013, John Powell, founder and then CEO of Alfresco (and now a board member of the same company) estimated this transitional period would last at least 10 years.

Since then, industry experts are estimating it could be even longer — at least 20 years — until hybrid solutions morph to full cloud computing.

Suffice to say that hybrid is hot. Just last week John Peluso, vice president of Product Management at AvePoint, told us how his company was embracing hybrid options. AvePoint just released a service pack that offers an enterprise-class infrastructure management platform for SharePoint 2016, with a focus on hybrid deployment.

Whatever happens, IBM sees itself at the center of it all. In a statement about the new releases, Angel Diaz, vice president of IBM cloud technologies, stated that the goal is to provide enterprises a way to make all their clouds — private, public and hybrid — act as a single unit.

It's a strategic move, since IBM estimates that 65 percent of enterprise IT organizations will commit to hybrid cloud technologies within the next year.

IBM already has all the pieces needed to develop these kind of management capabilities, which will revolve around the SoftLayer infrastructure and the new cloud services IBM is introducing. By surfacing its services through composable API-based services in Bluemix, IBM claims it can provide clients with the tools they require to extend their businesses to the cloud. Bluemix is IBM's platform that helps developers build and run web and mobile applications.

New Innovations

IBM announced several hybrid cloud innovations, including:

Application Portability: The company said it is making it easier to move enterprise workloads across environments, as well as bringing apps closer to data and data closer to apps. It will do this using Enterprise Containers that will enable developers build applications using Docker APIs and Linux.

Visibility and Security: Using an upgraded version of IBM DataWorks, IBM wants to enable developers to build connections between data sources by mapping and connecting applications. This will be combined with new security features that protect data using IBM’s analytics across all enterprise clouds, IBM explained. 

Enhanced Developer Productivity: IBM boasted that its new services will enable developers to connect apps, data and services across "an open and flexible environment of traditional systems, cloud platforms and devices." The data and services will be pulled together with APIs that will be used to compose new apps and services.

IBM has also announced the general availability of Watson, which allows developers to integrate new capabilities to analyze trends in high volume data streams.

Data Center Development

IBM is also opening new cloud data centers in places including Sydney, Australia and Montreal, Quebec. These cloud centers will cater to its SoflLayer business as well as provide enterprise data storage.

Big Blue has committed to opening cloud centers in Milan, Italy and Chennai, India before the year is out, and plans to reveal even more locations later this year. The opening of the new centers are just the latest piece in a strategy that was announced early last year — a strategy that includes IBM pumping $1.2 billion into cloud services.

It also aims to counter similar moves by other players in the cloud and data management space including HP, Microsoft and OpenText.