IBM has upped its game in the cloud market by expanding its cloud offerings to include customizable services for specific industries — and offering software to match. 

It also announced it will offer a number of fast-start solutions for enterprises. They will be delivered as a service and enable enterprises working those industries to rapidly develop a cloud presence.

Cloud Computing Issues

According to IBM, these developments buck the "one size fits all" trend — a single model across industries — among cloud vendors. This approach may have worked in the early days of cloud computing. But it will not work in the future as more enterprises migrate industry and enterprise-specific content to the cloud.

There are two principal issues IBM is tackling here.

The first is the growing need in enterprises for agile computing that offers the best customer experience possible and can be altered rapidly to suit changing business conditions. By developing industry specific cloud services, IBM is offering not only the agility that comes with cloud services, but also the ability to adopt to changing business environments quickly.

The other is the need for specific solutions for specific industries that are more regulated, data-heavy and dependent on specific tools to deal with specific problems. As Sanjay Rishi, managing partner, IBM Cloud Consulting Services, noted:

In the era of cloud, the agenda of front office decision makers places a premium on flexibility and the ability to experiment. With these new cloud offerings, IBM will help front office leaders rapidly deploy business content for business value.

Enterprise Specific Services

IBM’s move to specialized industry services is not a random one. According to research it published last month,the use ofcloud computing and related services acrossC-Suite decision makers willdouble from 34 percent to 72 percent in the next three years, surpassing its use by IT departments, which will level off at 58 Thi percent.

This corresponds with the recent Forrester Wave for Private Cloud Computing, which shows 33 percent  of enterprises surveyed have already moved to the cloud with a further 55 percent heading there this year.

The new fast-start solutions aim to cater to this growth and will be hosted on a private cloud using SoftLayer, which IBM bought earlier this year. They will be managed through IBM Global Business Services and are designed for rapid deployment, implementation and customization when needed.

Learning Opportunities

Among the verticals that are catered for initially are banking, insurance, retail, telecom, energy and utilities. It is likely others will be added later. The new services also mean that all these verticals will be able to deploy industry-specific applications within hours, rather than days or even months.

An example of how this will work is the new IBM Insurance Service Hub Cloud. IBM describes this as a platform on the cloud that connects health insurance companies with a wide range of data providers like clinics and physicians and customers through their mobile devices. It also comes with analytics for semantic analysis of diagnostic texts.

Although these services are only being launched today, there are already more than adozen substantial clients using the Insure Hub, with other companies signed up to the other services.

This follows the June launch of its Cloud Suites for the C-Suite, which provides a catalog of 110 roles-based SaaS applications specifically targeting decision makers

By 2017, the public cloud services market is predicted to exceed $244 billion. Companies are looking to capitalize on this fast growing opportunity around the cloud for business transformation. IBM wants to capitalize on that need.