IBM markets cloud behind enemy lines

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IBM markets cloud behind enemy lines

IBM has decided that the industry love-fest around Amazon Web Services is too much to stomach, so it's using a new cloud marketing campaign to establish itself as a bona fide AWS rival.

This week in Las Vegas, buses with ads proclaiming IBM's superior cloud expertise and technology were seen on the strip outside the venue for Amazon's AWS re:Invent conference. "Whose cloud powers 270,000 more websites than Amazon?" reads one of the bus ads, referring to IBM's SoftLayer unit.

Attendees at the AWS re:Invent conference had a good laugh when AWS Senior Vice President Andy Jassy showed of photo of the ad during his Wednesday keynote, noting that IBM seemed to be "protesting" Amazon's event. He could have been referring to the protest IBM filed in March after the CIA picked AWS for a US$600 million (A$640 million), 10-year cloud contract.

[Related: IBM folds, Amazon wins US$600m CIA deal]

While a conference full of people making money on the AWS cloud probably isn't the best venue, IBM gets points for showing that it's not going to cede the enterprise cloud space without a fight.

In the new campaign, IBM is highlighting SoftLayer's long history in the hosting market, and the fact that customers can purchase dedicated servers or pay based on what they use. IBM also claims that many of the 1,000 customers it has signed up since closing the SoftLayer deal in July were wins against AWS.

IBM still has a long way to go to catch up with AWS. Gartner, in its Magic Quadrant report on cloud IaaS in August, said AWS has five times the compute capacity of the other 14 vendors in the study combined.

Chipping away at AWS' image may seem like a tall order, but Porter said he thinks IBM can, in time, make an impression in the minds of IT buyers. Even if three-quarters of the ad impressions are met with skepticism, IBM still had the chance to send a message, Porter said.

Viewers may dismiss IBM's message about being bigger than AWS, but if they accept that IBM is a cloud player, "that's still a better outcome than not being in the conversation," said Porter.

This article originally appeared at

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