Given IBM's traditional approach to business, this makes a certain degree of sense. IBM professional services can build out whatever its customers want on its SoftLayer infrastructure, with Bluemix availability gradually ramping up over time. Meanwhile, many Bluemix deployments will be on-premises, as IBM plays a hybrid long game. The other three players have more explicitly dedicated themselves to delivering public cloud self-service.
Amazon established that model, which accounts for its huge lead -- although enterprise customers remain a small slice of its clientele. Microsoft has the unique advantage of a huge presence in the enterprise data center with Windows Server and System Center, which (with the help of Azure Pack and Azure Stack) it's already using to foster a hybrid architecture for customers, with the goal of making Azure cloud a natural extension of on-premises customer infrastructure. That smooth on-ramp is part of the reason behind the bullish predictions that Azure may soon overtake AWS in the enterprise cloud competition.
Google has the most room to grow. It has a head start in the race to support production container deployments at scale, thanks to pioneering work on the Linux container spec and experience spinning up billions of containers per week -- along with the recent launch of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, which may well develop an effective hybrid play. In a December 2015 review, InfoWorld's Peter Wayner found the Cloud Platform as it stands to be a flexible, elegant offering.
Will Google stay committed and figure out how to accommodate enterprise customers? Will Amazon offer enterprises an easier way to go hybrid with AWS? Can Microsoft sync the ongoing development of the Azure public cloud and the Azure Stack effectively? At the least, we'll see a glimmering of answers to these and other questions in 2016.
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