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IBM SoftLayer Opening Melbourne, Australia Data Center
A look at tidy cabling within an IBM SoftLayer facility (source: IBM Softlayer)

IBM SoftLayer Opening Melbourne, Australia Data Center

The latest data center in IBM SoftLayer's global cloud push is in Melbourne, Australia.

IBM is launching a new SoftLayer data center in Melbourne, Australia. The company made a commitment of $1.2 billion to expand its global cloud footprint by 15 data centers. Melbourne will be the sixth data center since it made the commitment.

The new data center replicates the build of its other data centers around the globe. It will have initial capacity of 5,000 servers with room to grow to up to 15,000 servers. SoftLayer's full portfolio of services will be available out of Melbourne, all on one integrated platform.

The company is building in places where it already has an audience but no local data center. Several Australian businesses including Rightship, the Loft Group, HotelsCombined and several tech startups are already implementing IBM’s cloud services in the country.

"Australia is an important market for IBM and SoftLayer. We are seeing a strong appetite for cloud in this market, particularly towards the hybrid cloud model," said Lance Crosby CEO SoftLayer. "We are investing in Australia, combining and strengthening our existing cloud capabilities."

SoftLayer's reach continues to expand internationally under IBM. IBM acquired SoftLayer for about $2 billion last year, SoftLayer forming the basis and infrastructure for its cloud play. Since then, SoftLayer has added over 6,000 customers. The expansion plan is to open 15 new SoftLayer data centers globally, with IBM recently opening SoftLayer data centers in LondonHong Kong and Toronto.

There are several cloud competitors in Australia including AWS, Dell, Telstra and Dimension Data.

IBM has recently partnered with one of Australia’s largest IT distributors, Avnet Technology Solutions, to build a robust business partner network in Australia to deliver SoftLayer services to the mid-market.

SoftLayer adds to bare metal offerings

SoftLayer is also rolling out new hourly-billed bare metal server offerings across its entire data center footprint. The pre-configured servers are available in four configurations and are deployed in under 30 minutes.

Bare metal offers the raw performance of a physical server and is the evolution of dedicated servers. SoftLayer has been offering bare metal for many years, but it continues to shrink the time to deploy through automation. Competition in the space is also heating up, with Rackspace recently launching On-Metal, its bare metal offering. Internap has long offered bare metal and recently expanded its offering as well.

SoftLayer also offers public cloud in addition to bare metal. “We’re huge proponents of choice,” said Marc Jones, VP Product Innovation. “Bare metal and virtualized public cloud each have a front seat. There’s great workloads for both.”

Does bare metal equal cloud? The lines are blurry

The strictest definition of cloud requires it to be multi-tenant and virtualized, and billed like a utility. These bare metal offerings are single tenant servers. However, the provisioning time for bare metal has drastically reduced and it is offered hourly, further blurring the lines. Bare metal has a performance advantage over public cloud and the flexibility advantage gap that public cloud once had is shrinking.

“The idea of cloud is to help businesses solve their IT challenges with on-demand resources,” said Philbert Shih, managing director Structure Research. “But every business has unique challenges, so to be a true solution cloud, services need to simultaneously be flexible, diverse, and integrated. These hourly bare metal servers take the advantages that the SoftLayer platform already offered—seamlessly integrated bare metal and virtual in one platform, control system, and API—and adds even more flexibility, without sacrificing any of the integration.”

The  four pre-configured bare metal servers are:

  • Intel 1270, Single processor, 8GB RAM, 2 1TB SATA storage, $0.46/hour: Good, solid server for standard workloads like a web server or caching node
  • Intel 1270, 32GB RAM, 2 400GB SSD $1.09/hour: the SSD drives make this a performance box with better IO, good for running a database

The last two configurations are for running Big Data workloads such as Hadoop:

  • -Intel 2620, 2 processors, 32 GB RAM, 4 x 1TB SATA $1.24/hour
  • -Intel 2650, 2 processors, 64 GB RAM, 4 x1TB SATA $1.32/hour

Customers may choose from four base configurations with CentOS, Debian, FreeBSD, or Ubuntu operating system installed. The base configuration is deployed within 30 minutes, after which the server may be further customized with additional OS or application installations.

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