How IBM is starting to look at lot like Amazon in the cloud

Shopping in the cloud is getting a whole lot easier with marketplaces galore!

Log on to a portal, swipe a credit card and get access to virtual machines, storage, SaaS applications and dozens of other cloud-based services. No long-term contracts, no on-site, in-person planning teams or months-long roll out initiatives. Log on and spin up. Guess which company offers these services?

Amazon Web Services was the first. But after this week IBM - yes the kings of the big IT-project - now have a cloud marketplace to do all that too.

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Read the details of the marketplace here, including the recap of how it offers tools for operations professionals (VMs, storage and even bare-metal servers), SaaS applications sortable by industry and type, as well as developer-focused PaaS tools for building applications.

Perhaps the bigger news is what this means for the broader IaaS industry though. To some degree, this is a natural evolution in IBM's journey to position itself as one of the major cloud vendors. AWS is clearly the market leader in that category, but IBM is biting at its heels.

IBM made a big splash with last year's acquisition of IaaS provider SoftLayer, and it was a wide swath of enterprise SaaS applications that can be run from its cloud. A marketplace is a logical way to bring all these assets together and provide a single pane of glass view for users to research what services are available, test them out and easily bring them on board. Swipe and play is now here from IBM.

On another hand, it seems very similar to the approach AWS has taken. IBM couldn't even come up with a more creative name for the platform other than "marketplace," which just so happens to be the name as AWS's portal for services from partners it offers to customers.

Constellation Research IaaS analyst Holger Mueller wrote in his blog this week that the move is basically table-stakes for big cloud vendors though. " In the new world of elastic resources and next generation requirements, customers want to make their licensing process more agile, too," he says, applauding IBM's efforts.

The bigger takeaway here is that this is a good move for consumers, how now have an easy portal to evaluate, test and launch applications in IBM's cloud. It points to the increased maturity of the cloud and IaaS market, but also shows just how commoditized some of these cloud services are becoming.

Senior Writer Brandon Butler covers cloud computing for Network World and NetworkWorld.com. He can be reached at BButler@nww.com and found on Twitter at @BButlerNWW. (Image courtesy of Woodkern)

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