Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Tuesday, August 16, 2022

IBM Opens Fed Datacenters in Dallas, DC Area 

IBM is opening two new datacenters that will use software and infrastructure from recently acquired SoftLayer to serve the federal government market.

Consistent with its application software push, IBM also announced an "acceleration program" designed to help federal agencies speed development and deployment of mobile and other apps.

The first datacenter will open in Dallas this month followed later this year by another in Ashburn, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, D.C. Each will leverage SoftLayer's cloud infrastructure-as-a-service designed to meet the requirements of two federal certification programs, FedRAMP and FISMA, or Federal Information Security Management Act.

The new datacenters are part of IBM's $1.2 billion investment in 15 datacenters designed to distribute its public cloud footprint more evenly around the globe. They are separate from SoftLayer's existing facilities in both locations.

IBM acquired Dallas-based SoftLayer in June 2013 for $2 billion.

The two secure datacenters would have an initial capacity of 30,000 servers and share an isolated private network with 2,000 gigabits per second connectivity between the two facilities, IBM said.

The expansion also is intended to spread SoftLayer's cloud ecosystem to federal agencies to help them deliver a range of applications and services, including desktop virtualization and geospatial services that apply analytical techniques to geographic datasets.

Federal agencies are in the process of shifting many of their operations to the cloud. IBM is competing to provide hybrid and private cloud services that would integrate agency's on-premise and cloud-based workloads through its datacenters.

As the federal cloud space heats up, market watchers estimate that hybrid and private clouds are expected to make up as much as 80 percent federal cloud deployments.

As part of its expansion into the federal market, IBM said it is also building a dedicated "security operations center" for the two new datacenters to boost reliability and "incident response capability" as well as security.

IBM's push into cloud services has largely designed to allow it to deliver applications. In announcing the new datacenters, it again stressed that potential federal customers could optimize application performance via SoftLayer's infrastructure while speeding application development and deployment.

To that end, IBM also announced a platform-as-a-Service offering called "Bluemix" based on its open cloud architecture. The acceleration program built on SoftLayer's cloud infrastructure is designed to bring together application developers, independent software vendors and government systems integrators. The goal is to help federal agencies and their contractors speed the development, testing and management of mobile, social and analytics applications.

The Bluemix platform will be based on Cloud Foundry and other open standards, IBM said. That approach would ease deployment app deployment across different systems and legacy network infrastructure.

Since acquiring SoftLayer last year, IBM is claiming a more than 50 percent growth rate for its cloud computing operations. The company projects it will generate $7 billion in annual cloud revenues by 2015.

It is also building smaller datacenters in Houston, Seattle, San Jose, Amsterdam, and Singapore.

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 30 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as executive editor of Electronic Engineering Times. Leopold is the author of "Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom" (Purdue University Press, 2016).

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