IBM is expanding its SoftLayer Direct Link services through new partnerships with Verizon, Equinix and Digital Reality to enable enterprises plug directly into its SoftLayer cloud.

The new services bypass the Internet with secure direct connections to IBM’s 13 data centers around the world.

The services also come with new colocation capabilities that enable enterprises to house their own infrastructure in a secure cabinet within those data centers.

Creating Hybrid Clouds

The objective, IBM pointed out in a statement, is to enable enterprises to create hybrid cloud infrastructures that address data security.

The new services will also save enterprises the cost of replacing their hardware when they are moving to the cloud — there is no need to rip and replace — and also give them access to networks that are faster and more secure.

Highly regulated industries like financial services, health or government are starting to turn to the cloud, but continue to show resistence about moving all their data there. The compromise solution is hybrid cloud computing

Hybrid cloud computing uses a mix of on-premises, private cloud and public cloud services to provide data and applications to its workers. This necessarily involves the transfer of data acorss a network, usually the Internet.

Direct Link's Use Cases

Secure migration of data between the cloud and the enterprise depends on secure connections, which is can be hard to guarantee.

With Direct Link, enterprises can plug into SoftLayer’s private network through IBM’s secured points of presence (PoPs), enabling them to move data back and forth between servers in any of IBM’s data centers. IBM sees three use cases

  1. Hybrid Environment: With direct network links, enterprises can move data between servers so quickly that the lines between on-premises and ‘cloud’ becomes undistinguishable
  2. Backup and Storage: Enables enterprises to quickly backup and store huge amounts of data in either direction (enterprise to cloud, cloud to enterprise) across dedicated networks at higher speeds than possible across public network
  3. Security: Enterprises moving sensitive financial, health or government-regulated data to and from SoftLayer can further ensure its security by avoiding exposure to the Internet

Direct Link also addresses regulatory requirements as well as multi-cloud architectures. Specifically, it provides:

  • Direct Link NSP: A single unified cloud platform that pulls all cloud offerings together to meet regulatory regimes all over the world
  • Direct Link Cloud Exchange: This allows customers to take advantage of multi-cloud architectures, including a mix of on-premises, private cloud and public cloud services

Not All About IBM

IBM, however, is not the only vendor that has come up with the idea of bypassing the public internet to keep data secure.

In October, Microsoft annoucned the release of Azure ExpressRoute for Office 365 which allowed organizations to bypass the public Internet to establish dedicated, private connections to Office 365 through their own on-premises datacenters.

In that case, Microsoft signed the deal with British Telecom, Equinix, Tata Communications, TelecityGroup and Verizon.

However, IBM is working through SoftLayer and that’s going to count. In addition to working with Verizon, Equinix and Digital Realty, these services are offered globally from InterXion and NextDC, as well as customers on the Colt network.