With Sao Paulo Online, IBM Nears Completion of Global Cloud Data Center Build-Out

SoftLayer cloud network now stretches over about 30 data centers in 12 countries

Michael Vizard

September 15, 2015

2 Min Read
With Sao Paulo Online, IBM Nears Completion of Global Cloud Data Center Build-Out
A symbolic data cloud is seen at the IBM stand at the 2014 CeBIT technology Trade fair on March 10, 2014 in Hanover, Germany. CeBIT is the world’s largest technology fair and the year’s partner nation was Great Britain. (Photo by Nigel Treblin/Getty Images)

IBM announced the launch of a 2.8-megawatt cloud data center in Sao Paulo.

Part of the global network of cloud sites the company has been building out since acquiring SoftLayer in 2013, the Sao Paulo facility is the 29th data center supporting its cloud services. The network of cloud data centers stretches across 12 countries.

All told, IBM now operates about 40 data centers, with the non-SoftLayer sites supporting specific customer engagements.

It plans to bring one additional cloud data center online as part of the IBM SoftLayer network later this year. IBM will then reevaluate where it needs to bring on additional capacity in 2016, IBM SoftLayer COO Francisco Romero said.

For all intents and purposes, the data expansion plans outlined early last year are now complete, he said. Going forward, the company will decide where it might need to simply deploy additional pods in existing data centers to service additional demand versus actually building new facilities.

Like all the IBM SoftLayer data centers, the 10,000-square-foot facility is Sao Paulo makes use of the same basic data center design. Each cloud data center can accommodate two to five pods consisting of anywhere from 4,000 to 5,000 servers. Each pod provides access to 1.5 MW. The data centers support dual 10G Ethernet connections to server that are no more than one network hop away from a local internet peering exchange.

Two major factors now drive placement of cloud data centers around the world, Romero said. The first is data sovereignty regulations in some countries that require the primary copy of any data to be stored locally. The second is latency in performance of cloud applications. Most cloud applications need to be highly distributed to guarantee satisfactory customer experience, he said.

While enterprise IT organizations are not abandoning their existing data center investments just yet, Romero noted that the economics of the cloud are pushing new application deployments into either the public cloud or managed hosting environments.

“A lot of organizations are deciding they want to be able to allocate their capital elsewhere in their business,” he said. “Also, a lot of the newer deployments involve infrastructure that can support real-time applications.”

Historically, most IT organizations decided to locate data centers based on real estate costs and access to inexpensive power. While those issues matter, network connectivity is now also a much bigger factor in the age of the cloud, Romero said.

In the case of IBM, the primary issue is to be able to build out a network of data centers that can to compete with the scale of Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Compute Engine.

The Brazil cloud market, estimated to be worth $1.11 billion in 2017, is only one small piece of a global market where, much like in the restaurant business, scale and location still matter very much.

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