IBM has bought OpenStack-based private cloud vendor Blue Box for an undisclosed sum.

According to a statement from Big Blue, the acquisition will accelerate its open cloud strategy. It will make it easier for client companies to move to data and applications across clouds and develop hybrid cloud environments, IBM maintains.

For Blue Box’s founder and CTO, Jesse Proudman, the deal will “turbo-charge" Blue Box's cloud strategy by helping IBM integrate its cloud-based applications into a managed cloud.

Special Clouds?

And they won’t be just any clouds. They will be OpenStack clouds, which IBM has already built heavily on in the past through its SoftLayer unit.

OpenStack is a free and open-source cloud computing software platform. Users primarily deploy it as an infrastructure as a service (IaaS) solution.

IBM claims Blue Box-based businesses will be able to rapidly integrate their cloud-based applications and on-premises systems into OpenStack-based managed clouds. Further, it said, the deal allows it to offer a remotely managed OpenStack private cloud solution.

Describing Blue Box as a “strategic fit” into its portfolio, IBM noted in a statement that it currently has 500 developers dedicated to working on open cloud projects to bring these OpenStack projects to market. Blue Box, IBM claims, will enhance developer productivity by:

  • Speeding delivery of applications and data through easy access to public, dedicated and local cloud infrastructures
  • Offering managed infrastructure services in hybrid environments and across it digital platform Bluemix.
  • Offering a single OpenStack-based private clouds regardless of location

What It Offers

This acquisition will enable IBM to deliver a public cloud-like experience within the client’s own data center, relieving organizations of the burden of traditional private cloud deployments.

Blue Box was founded in 2003 and has been building steadily over the years, attracting considerable interest from investors who have invested $26.6 million over the years, the last in late 2014.

Proudman said the company was built on a vision of cloud technology that is easy to deploy and consume, something that has become increasingly important as more businesses start moving to hybrid clouds.

Citing the 2015 RightScale State of the Cloud Survey, Proudman noted that 97 percent of organizations are trying to develop cloud strategies and that 55 percent of those are seeking to do so using a hybrid cloud design.

There couldn’t be a better time to be building a solution for these customers, Proudman wrote in a blog post about the acquisition.

He added that the Blue Box technology and business model will is to become a core element of IBM’s private cloud strategy, combined with SoftLayer’s global business. IBM currently plans to continue to support Blue Box’s 300 plus clients

Cisco Buys, Too

However, IBM is not the only one on the acquisition trail. Cisco also announced an OpenStack acquisition last night. Hilton Romanski, head of business development at Cisco, announced the company is buying Piston Cloud Computing.

Learning Opportunities

Piston is just the latest step in Cisco’s strategy of building what it describes as the Intercloud — a globally connected network of clouds.

“The acquisition of Piston will complement our Intercloud strategy by bringing additional operational experience on the underlying infrastructure that powers Cisco OpenStack Private Cloud. Additionally, Piston’s deep knowledge of distributed systems and automated deployment will help further enhance our delivery capabilities for customers and partners,” Romanski wrote in a blog post.

Market Consolidation

In respect of both acquisitions, Dave Bartoletti, principal analyst at Forrester, told CMSWire that the acquisitions are further evidence of consolidation in the OpenStack space.

“We're seeing consolidation in the managed services space and in the OpenStack ecosystem, and I think it's driven by two things: large cloud providers need talent, customers and new services, which are all hard to build organically,” he said. “Customers need a lot of help figuring out what kind of private cloud is right for them, and, increasingly, want someone to host and run it for them.”

He pointed out that with BlueBox, IBM gets a couple of hundred customers and a team that knows how to support hosted private clouds based on OpenStack.

With Piston, Cisco gets a bare-metal private cloud platform to expand its offering for hosted private clouds alongside MetaCloud. But they are not alone.

“EMC just expanded its hosted private footprint with VirtuStream. All of these buys expand each vendor’s OpenStack expertise - that’s the real value, not net new customers, and adds some private cloud IP to build out a range of hosted and on-premises private cloud services,” he said.

With the interest that is currently being shown in hybrid cloud computing in particular, it seems that there is a more play in this space yet. 

Simpler Media Group, 2015