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IBM’s cloud platform strategy is getting legitimate

James Staten, Vice President and Principal Analyst, Forrester Research | July 23, 2014
After a slow and somewhat disjointed start, it looks like IBM is starting to build some serious momentum in the Public Cloud Platform game.

* Watson brings AI to predictive applications -  Clearly IBM sees big data and analytics as a key investment area for the company and put its money behind its mouth with a bulk of acquisitions over the last few years. But while these moves, plus DB2 investments and other internal initiatives around data and business intelligence have garnered IBM strong big data credibility, it hasn't positioned IBM as a visionary for the next generation of data-driven applications. That's come through its labs' investments in Watson. Sadly, for most of its life, Watson has been just that, a lab project that required the full attention of a select set of IBM engineers to make it do itsartificial intelligence magic. Until now. With the general availability of Watson Cloud, enterprise developers can now tap into the intelligence of Watson with their applications as they would any other BlueMix service. Watson services are a step beyond standard analytics in that they combine data understanding with the ability to make intuitive leaps and draw multi-step conclusions from the data sets analyzed. In other words, enterprises can leverage Watson for services, such as the medical advisor build for the Cleveland Clinic by IBM Global Technical Services. But now without the hand holding. We see big promise in these capabilities for delivering more robust customer experiences and more contextually intelligent applications. And given that the service is accessible on a pay-as-you-go basis there is little barrier to experimenting with it.

* IBM Cloud now a highly credible mobile play - It's been hard to understand why anyone building mobile apps would use IBM Cloud as their backend. Sure they had some mobile services making their way to production-ready on Bluemix and IT admins could leverage Maas360. But if you wanted to maximize your development productivity you went to AWS where you could pick from a library of MBaaS capabilities. Few mobile applications are fully client-side. The majority heavily leverage back-end functions, datasets and services that originate from AWSGoogle or Rackspace. Now that IBM is carrying the enterprise support flag for Apple and building a full stable of iOS applications and platform services, they may have just vaulted into a leadership position for hosting corporate-facing iOS applications. This move will make IBM Cloud a very attractive deployment option for iOS-focused developers. IBM brings an end-to-end support value proposition through this partnership that will be very attractive to enterprises buyers and the ISVs courting them. Read our QuickTake on this partnership on


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