IBM and SoftLayer celebrate first anniversary together, launch new capabilities on Watson

It’s time to dust off the bunting and get out the birthday cake, as IBM commemorates one year since acquiring SoftLayer – and to celebrate, it’s announcing a series of new features linking up SoftLayer with Watson.

Last month CloudTech trailed the news that Watson and SoftLayer were going to coalesce, and so it has proved, with IBM announcing Watson Engagement Advisor on SoftLayer, which aims to give the insight of the Jeopardy-playing diagnosis-solving supercomputer into big data, as well as unprecedented access for third party developers on Watson Developer Cloud, powered by SoftLayer.

Regarded as one of the best partnerships in the industry to date, the acquisition of SoftLayer by IBM was the first step in its hugely expensive play to become market leader in cloud computing, with SoftLayer’s pure play IaaS complementing Big Blue’s SaaS and PaaS offerings.

“In its first year, SoftLayer has proven to be a pivotal acquisition for IBM Cloud,” said Erich Clementi, SVP IBM global technology services in a statement.

“SoftLayer has quickly become the foundation of IBM’s cloud portfolio anchoring our infrastructure, platform and software as a service offering and transforming the fortunes of many industry companies from Web start ups to established enterprises looking for the speed, flexibility and security that hybrid cloud environments provide,” he added.

With this in mind IBM has taken the opportunity to unleash a raft of updates and iterations, including the announcement of more than 300 services available within the IBM Cloud Marketplace on SoftLayer, as well as the rollout of Aspera on SoftLayer to enable high speed transfer of both structured and unstructured data between data centres.

Indeed, it’s all good news from both sides, with SoftLayer EMEA general manager Jonathan Wisler telling CloudTech that the partnership had thus far been “phenomenal.”

There’s been lots of innovation at the SoftLayer end as well, with a new London data centre recently announced alongside a plethora of expansion across France and Germany, as well as a drop of its prices to fit in more closely with the likes of Google, AWS and Microsoft.

With the price cuts in mind – announced as they were by IBM – CloudTech took the opportunity at Cloud World Forum last month to effectively ask Wisler who was wearing the trousers in this particular relationship.

He explained that the company was effectively performing two roles, both as a separate entity and one which was owned by IBM. It gives SoftLayer the opportunity to grow and expand in its existing environment, Wisler argued, as well as supporting IBM teams on enterprise accounts.

Elsewhere, IBM announced a new storage capability on SoftLayer, code named Elastic Storage – wait and see on that one – as well as IBM Cloud Modular Management, which helps companies decide whether they want to go their cloud deployment alone or have IBM manage it for them.