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IBM Expands Availability Zones and Cloud Capabilities Globally

| by Steef-Jan Wiggers Follow 9 Followers on Jun 26, 2018. Estimated reading time: 2 minutes |

Last week, IBM announced a significant expansion of their cloud capabilities and an increase of the presence of availability zones across the globe. The announcements demonstrate the substantial investments IBM is making in order to compete with Amazon, Microsoft, and Google in the cloud services market.  

An IBM Availability Zone is an isolated location within an IBM Cloud Region with independent power, cooling, and networking. IBM will launch 18 of these zones in North America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific to further increase the geographical expansion of their cloud footprint. Aki Duvver, IBM’s vice-president of Worldwide Cloud Offering and Product Management, said in an eWeek article on the expansion:

We’re increasingly finding that we have to be where our clients reside—we have to meet our customers where their data sits. Eighty-five percent of our customers’ data sits on-premises today, and much of that data is moving to the cloud over time.

IBM further announced that it would bring more services into their Cloud regions and Availability Zones, ranging from infrastructure to data to serverless and AI capabilities. In a blog post about the expansion of IBM Availability Zones in the six global regions - Andrew Hately, VP, DE and chief architect IBM Watson and Cloud Platform, said:

The most exciting aspect of this new region/availability zone architecture is that it provides an even more robust infrastructure foundation for the new offerings we’ll be delivering on a continuous basis in the future. By abstracting physical locations and providing additional underlying redundancy, we’re able to roll out new capabilities like Virtual Private Cloud networking (which was also announced in beta today) for IaaS services.

With Availability Zones, IBM Cloud customers will have another benefit. They can deploy multi-zone Kubernetes clusters using the IBM Cloud Kubernetes Service. Furthermore, these Kubernetes clusters now also feature worker pools – a collection of worker nodes that the Kubernetes cluster can distribute across the Availability Zones. 

The driver for increasing the number of the availability zones is also a result of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), enacted by the European Union on May 25. Moreover, the regulation will impact multi-national organisations with a presence in the EU, as they will be forced to keep and maintain business data within individual data centers inside the home-country boundaries of specific nations, and be able to prove this upon inspection. In the same eWeek article on the expansion Alki Duvver said on privacy regulations:

We have to meet the MNC customers with the data privacy requirements that are in-country. In addition to GDPR, for example, in Germany, we have the federal C5 Attestation, which is around cloud computing compliance controls catalog and information security.

In an earlier news item, InfoQ reported on the general availability of Availability Zones in Azure, while both Amazon and Google have had availability zones for some time now and are more spread across the globe. IBM steps in with their expansion of availability zones to support their customers -- such as ExxonMobil, Bausch + Lomb, Crédit Mutuel and Westpac -- deploying workloads to the IBM Cloud. Faiyaz Shahpurwala, general manager, IBM Cloud, stated in the blog post that customers could expect more:

This is just a part of our continued investments into the IBM cloud strategy. There is much more to come as we deliver new offerings and enhancements to intelligently and securely guide our customers through their journey to the cloud.

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