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IBM confirms London data centre now online as part of SoftLayer anniversary

16 Jul 2014
IBM's London data centre is now operational

IBM has confirmed to V3 that its London data centre is now online, as part of its $1.2bn global expansion that will also see Paris and Frankfurt added later this year.

The new data centre is part of an expansion programme that IBM announced at the start of 2014, which will see the IT giant deliver cloud services from 40 data centres worldwide in 15 countries across the globe by the end of the year.

The switch-on comes as part of IBM's one year anniversary since it acquired SoftLayer in an effort to boost its cloud offerings.

IBM told V3 the London data centre officially came online on Monday. It will deliver additional capacity for IBM SoftLayer cloud services, and its location near Chessington places it close to key customers in the City of London, IBM said.

IBM confirmed that data centre would come online in July during an announcement in June when it said its BlueMix development platform is now out of beta and generally available from SoftLayer.

Speaking at the time Steven Canale, SoftLayer co-founder and now vice president of Global Sales, said: "London has the headquarters of about a third of the biggest companies around the world, so it is obviously very fertile ground for many enterprise businesses, but this is part of our overall $1.2bn expansion, so we're not just building out here in London, it's around the globe."

Explaining the ambitious expansion programme, Canale said that prior to its acquisition by IBM, SoftLayer had a large presence inside the US, but not such a significant presence internationally.

Now, "the concept is to have a data centre that is 40ms or less [in latency] away from any customer in the world," he said.

SoftLayer has become a central part of IBM's cloud strategy since the firm acquired it in a deal worth $2bn in July 2013, and the firm is moving all of its cloud services onto SoftLayer. In April, IBM announced Cloud Marketplace as a single point of access for all of its cloud services, including BlueMix, its platform-as-a-service (PaaS) aimed at developers.

BlueMix itself hits general availability today, having been available as an open beta before.

Enterprises are seeing huge advantages to switching across to cloud services, according to Doug Clark, IBM's Cloud Leader for UK and Ireland.

"The enterprises that are really getting cloud computing, the ones that are leading the pace, they are seeing twice the revenue performance compared to the rest of the pack, so they are disappearing off into the sunset. They're getting a competitive advantage and they are reducing TCO from it," he said.

The new London data centre will have capacity for more than 15,000 physical servers and will offer the full range of SoftLayer services, including bare metal servers, virtual servers, storage and networking.

SoftLayer is almost unique among cloud providers in that it started out by offering bare metal servers on demand back in 2005, adding virtual servers later. Other providers such as Rackspace are now starting to offer bare metal in response to demand from customers for higher performance when deploying critical workloads in the cloud.

In fact, SoftLayer's Infrastructure Management System (IMS) enables customers to operate a mixture of bare metal, private cloud and public cloud resources, all on the same platform via a single pane of glass, the firm said.

Canale confirmed that IBM SoftLayer is working towards offering IBM Power Systems via its cloud platform, plus an IBM Watson service running on Power.

Meanwhile, Clark said that IBM was looking to expand cloud services based around its System z mainframe line. "We're actually looking now at Linux on mainframe as a platform, just as we're doing with Power as part of our longer roadmap, so it's an ambition of ours," he said.

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Daniel Robinson

Daniel Robinson is technology editor at V3, and has been working as a technology journalist for over two decades. Dan has served on a number of publications including PC Direct and enterprise news publication IT Week. Areas of coverage include desktops, laptops, smartphones, enterprise mobility, storage, networks, servers, microprocessors, virtualisation and cloud computing.

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