IBM opened its newest SoftLayer data centre in Drummondville, just outside of Montreal, Quebec this past week. Just six months after launching its Toronto facility (in August of 2014), the IBM cloud-computing footprint has expanded in the Canadian market. With this new facility, IBM aims to offer French language clients transparency, flexibility, security and control over how they use and deploy data in the cloud. This offering is part of a $1.2 billion investment in cloud that IBM has committed to. By the end of 2015, the company plans to add new cloud centres in Italy and India. Earlier this year, IBM opened doors on cloud sites in Frankfurt, Germany, Querétaro, Mexico and Tokyo, Japan.
The Montreal facility represents an expansion of IBM’s strategy to build a portfolio of data centres that aligns with Canadian clients’ preference to maintain data residence – to keep data secure and within the country. By opening this second facility within Canada, IBM plans to offer Quebec-based clients the improved application performance and responsiveness of IBM services that a lower-latency connection can provide. Financial institutions, public-sector organizations and large business enterprises will also benefit from new data redundancy capabilities that enable correction of errors in both stored and transmitted data. Customers that use the new SoftLayer Cloud Centre will be able to detect errors and reconstruct both lost and damaged data.
This new cloud centre offers the full-range of IBM SoftLayer Cloud infrastructure services, including bare metal servers, virtual servers, storage, security and networking. These services can be deployed on-demand with full remote access and control delivered through a customer web portal via an API, allowing customers flexibility in the creation of their preferred public, private or hybrid cloud .
According to Malcolm Smith, GTS consulting services leader at IBM Canada, the goal of the Montreal SoftLayer data centre is to provide Canadian sectors within large economic hubs such as Toronto and Montreal with better and broader cloud-based computing capabilities. Opening a second data centre within Canada allows IBM to deliver multiple “software delivery points in all of our major financial sectors.” IBM plans to open data centres in all economic hubs around the world to service clients an optimal, centralized workload whatever their location.
In terms of the infrastructure at the two different Canadian locations, the pods are “practically identical,” says Smith, though the Montreal SoftLayer data centre has a smaller number of servers at the present time. Smith adds that clients can expect data centres in both Canadian locations will provide them with quick deployment, high security and the ability to know where the data is and where it sits at all times.
The target market for the SoftLayer data centre is broad. Every industry that has a use for cloud-computing services can benefit from the new capabilities, Smith notes, though large governments and banks in particular are now deploying software applications that rely on cloud service delivery and beginning to deploy cloud service brokerage models. By providing the required cloud infrastructure, IBM is enabling the predominance of the internal software development team – or in the SMB case, ease in deployment of software-as-a-service applications.
For sectors that require their data to be kept within the country due to privacy concerns or simply business preference, IBM's SoftLayer data centre provides the support needed: the banking industry, healthcare sector and government can comply with policy or guidelines on residency as the data will be housed within the country of origin and proximate for quick access. In addition, SoftLayer technology provides the tools needed to enable clients to meet industry or internal compliance standards. Smith notes, for example, that “an organization may have a standard that requires them to audit who has access to services,” and SoftLayer has account tools that allow users to go in and investigate who has access to these services. IBM maintains confidentiality and access control. While SoftLayer provides the services, IBM but does not have access to any of the data: “we don't control it, we don't touch it, we don't see it, and the client has complete control over it,” states Smith.
According to Smith, IBM cloud service capabilities are broadly consistent with similar offerings; however, there are several areas in which the SoftLayer cloud is differentiated. Not only do clients have quick access to data that resides in their location of choice, they can also opt for a bare metal server. “A server with no other clients on it,” Smith explains, is more secure for enterprises that handle delicate and confidential information. A bare metal server in the SoftLayer offering is unshared, and clients can even choose their own operating system.
Another feature that sets SoftLayer apart is its strong competitive price-per-performance ratio. IBM claims that it allows applications to run at the highest level of operation for an aggressively fair price point due to networking services. As Smith explains, network traffic between SoftLayer data centres is included in the price of the server, providing clients with huge savings when it comes to moving data – for example, between the two Canadian locations for redundancy or load sharing. Smith identifies price/performance as one of the biggest differences between IBM’s cloud and enterprise-class offerings of other competitors.
Smith encourages “clients to pick the next workload and start,” noting that they will be amazed at how quickly they can set up, have their data provisioned and be up and running, adding that SoftLayer gives clients the “value, flexibility, and agility of an experience that will make them not want to look back.”