IBM is growing its cloud operations by launching new Multi-Zone Regions around the world.
The newest IBM Cloud Multi-Zone Region officially opened on March 18 in Sao Paulo, Brazil, the 10th location that IBM has built out in recent years as part of its renewed cloud strategy. Last year, IBM opened MZRs in Toronto and Osaka, Japan, and has plans to scale to 14 MZRs over the next 24 months.
An IBM Cloud Multi-Zone Region is not just a single data center that IBM has labeled as being "cloud"; rather, it's a new purpose-built infrastructure.
"A Multi-Zone Region really is three data centers 10 to 40 kilometers apart, and that's important for latency purposes," Harish Grama, general manager of IBM Cloud, told ITPro Today. "Essentially, each one of those data centers in the region is what we call an availability zone, so even if one goes down, you've got two others up and running, as long as you have deployed your application to two or more of them."
Why MZR Cloud Deployments Matter
Each data center in an IBM Cloud Multi-Zone Region has independent power, cooling and networking, Grama said.
To guarantee reliability and resilience, organizations need to deploy enterprise applications using an MZR cloud approach. The reason three data centers are needed and not just two is to ensure data is accurate, he added.
"If you only have two data centers and one is misbehaving, how do you know if the data is accurate?" Grama said. "You need a third data center to break the tie, and that's why three is the right number."
From SoftLayer to the New IBM Cloud Software Stack
IBM Cloud has undergone multiple revisions over the years since IBM acquired SoftLayer in 2013 and entered the cloud market.
SoftLayer had its own virtualized infrastructure that was focused on bare metal and made use of a hypervisor that had challenges scaling, according to Grama. IBM has rebuilt and rewritten the infrastructure, and that's what's present in the new MZRs. The new software infrastructure for IBM's cloud began to come together three years ago and is based on the open-source Kubernetes container orchestration system and Red Hat's KVM virtualization hypervisor.
"So the control plane of our infrastructure as a service in our new IBM Cloud is a bunch of containers orchestrated by Kubernetes," Grama said.
A Quantum-Safe Future with IBM Cloud
One area in particular that IBM Cloud is looking at for the future is quantum computing.
"We're the only ones that are actually running a quantum computer in our cloud. Everybody else either has an emulator or it's not in the cloud," Grama said. "Beyond that, we're doing things like providing quantum-safe libraries that can be used to build applications."
A potential risk with quantum computing is, once a powerful enough system has been built, current forms of encryption will become useless. The promise of new quantum-safe cryptographic libraries is that they will help preserve security in the cloud and elsewhere, before quantum computers are able to crack current encryption methods.
Looking forward, Grama said IBM will likely continue to have a vertical market focus as it looks to grow its cloud adoption. In 2020, IBM announced new initiatives for the financial services market, with cloud offerings that meet the requirements of that industry.
"As we go forward, of course, there'll be expansion because as more and more people consume the cloud, we'll build more of these MZRs," he said.