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IBM Preps SoftLayer Cloud Datacenter In Hong Kong

Hong Kong SoftLayer facility will open April 14 and offer Watson, BlueMix, and other cloud services.

8 Data Centers For Cloud's Toughest Jobs
8 Datacenters For Cloud's Toughest Jobs
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IBM's SoftLayer unit has expanded a slender cloud foothold in Asia with the addition of a datacenter in Hong Kong, due to offer its cloud services starting April 14.

Hong Kong is the first of 15 datacenters that IBM plans to add this year to complete a chain of 40 around the world, all connected by a private network. At the start of March, its SoftLayer cloud services unit had 150,000 servers in operation and it was adding 4,000 to 5,000 a month. The Hong Kong site will have the capacity for 15,000 servers.

SoftLayer already operates a datacenter in Singapore. Workloads for SoftLayer's Asian sites can be sent via IBM/SoftLayer points of presence in Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Singapore. The POPs bring different network carriers together to provide a shared Internet access point. The datacenter will have network connectivity provided by Equinix, NTT, and Tata. Each datacenter can provide multiple network carriers, allowing redundant networks for protection against an outage, and high-speed throughput, said Lance Crosby, CEO of the SoftLayer unit, in the announcement.

With the addition of Hong Kong, many Asian users seeking a SoftLayer service should see latencies drop to about 40 milliseconds, Crosby added.

[Want to learn more about how SoftLayer provides cloud computing? See IBM Watson Goes On Silicon Valley Grand Tour.]

In an interview at InformationWeek offices earlier this month, Crosby said IBM will build out its 40 datacenters on five continents, including Australia and South America. The next sites to get SoftLayer datacenters will probably be Canada, Mexico, the UK, and Australia, he said. IBM will continue to expand its presence in North America, Europe, and the Middle East. But the key feature of the new Hong Kong facility might be that it's one of three that will serve as host for IBM's Watson business intelligence/analytics engine. The other two are in London and Dallas.

SoftLayer's datacenters and POPs.
SoftLayer's datacenters and POPs.

Hong Kong will also serve as a host to IBM's recently announced BlueMix platform-as-a-service on SoftLayer, where 200 of its tools and middleware products will be available as software-as-a-service. They include Tivoli systems management, Rational and Eclipse development tools, WebSphere middleware, Q9 security, and Maximo inventory management. Developers, instead of having to buy each piece, could turn to the BlueMix service to provide an element that their application needs.

Crosby said IBM will add to the two-dozen pieces of middleware and tools currently available as each is re-engineered to function as SaaS. "Our goal is to follow the general mantra of agile development and make each available as soon as we can," he said in the interview. IBM will also follow flexible pricing schemes as it deploys BlueMix, allowing customers to consume it by the hour, by the month, or by the seat, if they choose.

BlueMix will also allow developers to capture the pattern they use in deploying an application with its related middleware, security, and networking. By creating a template of the deployment in one SoftLayer center, it can be repeated "with a click of a button to 10 datacenters," he said.

The Hong Kong datacenter opening April 14 will be the first concrete addition to IBM's cloud service assets, in keeping with IBM's plan to invest $1.2 billion on cloud services by the end of the year.

Private clouds are moving rapidly from concept to production. But some fears about expertise and integration still linger. Also in the Private Clouds Step Up issue of InformationWeek: The public cloud and the steam engine have more in common than you might think. (Free registration required.)

Charles Babcock is an editor-at-large for InformationWeek and author of Management Strategies for the Cloud Revolution, a McGraw-Hill book. He is the former editor-in-chief of Digital News, former software editor of Computerworld and former technology editor of Interactive ... View Full Bio

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