Inside Advanced Scale Challenges|Sunday, September 24, 2017
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IBM Unveils High-Speed Link To SoftLayer Cloud 

IBM is offering a dedicated connection to its SoftLayer cloud platform as a high-speed link between an enterprise's existing IT infrastructure and cloud services.

The SoftLayer cloud division of IBM operates a global cloud platform that includes 13 datacenters today and that will expand to 40 centers by the end of the year. IBM said that its new Direct Link service essentially helps create a virtual private network between users and SoftLayer datacenters in the United States, Asia, and Europe. IBM opened a new SoftLayer datacenter in Hong Kong in June as part of a $1.2 billion investment in the SoftLayer build out that Big Blue announced earlier this year.

Once connected, IBM said customers could send data and workloads to a SoftLayer datacenter as an alternative to using the public Internet.

Direct Link is being pitched as an alternative way for users to handle workloads as if they were on a local area network, allowing customers to integrate other cloud services and their internal applications – what is commonly called hybrid cloud. A direct connection to the IBM SoftLayer platform would provide faster network speeds, but SoftLayer did not provide details on network performance.

The private, dedicated link is said to allow users to control connection speed and decide how data is routed, resulting in more consistent network performance.

Other cloud providers offer similar dedicated links between datacenters. For example, GoGrid is offering its Cloud Link service that provides private network connectivity to its U.S. datacenters. The service also allows geographic distribution of compute clusters in multiple datacenters connected via the private Cloud Link service. Microsoft Azure has ExpressRoute and Amazon Web Services has Direct Connect.

Pricing models for dedicated links to private cloud services vary. SoftLayer said pricing for its Direct Link service starts at $250 a month for 1 gigabyte of cloud storage or $1,500 a month for 10 gigabytes.

Competitors like GoGrid base their pricing for dedicated cloud links on bandwidth speeds. GoGrid's pricing ranges from $99 a month for 10 megabits per second speeds up to $2,500 a month for 10 gigabits per second. Annual rates are ten times higher, it said.

IBM said Direct Link would be available across all SoftLayer datacenters as well as through partners Coresite, Equinix, InterXion, TelecityGroup, Telx, and Terremark.

The Direct Link offering is part of an ongoing effort by IBM to leverage its expanding cloud infrastructure. The company said it has invested more than $7 billion since 2007 in acquisitions aimed at expanding its cloud portfolio. It acquired infrastructure-as-a-service provider SoftLayer in June 2013. The company estimates it will achieve $7 billion in cloud revenues by 2015.

As a way to differentiate its service, SoftLayer said Direct Link offers high-speed connections to its cloud platform from datacenters, offices, or co-location facilities. The direct connection is offers higher networks speeds, lower latencies and better security than typical Internet connections.

Industry analysts said the trend toward direct connections to a hybrid cloud service provides use cases for backup, disaster recovery, and business continuity.

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 25 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as Executive Editor for Electronic Engineering Times.

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