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News briefs: SoftLayer buy to boost IBM cloud services in public IaaS

This week, Big Blue's bid for SoftLayer is expected to boost IBM's cloud, and Salesforce targets its biggest buy yet: $2.5 billion for ExactTarget.

IBM cloud services get boost with SoftLayer buy

IBM reportedly laid down $2 billion for its acquisition of cloud storage provider SoftLayer, a move that indicates the IT giant is looking to round out its cloud services portfolio to compete with the likes of such cloud giants as Amazon Web Services. SoftLayer's Infrastructure-as-a-Service technology will become part of IBM's SmartCloud suite of services in a new cloud services division at IBM, where SoftLayer's specialization in public cloud will augment IBM's existing public cloud strategy. As SearchCloudComputing reported, IBM plans to bring OpenStack into SoftLayer's public cloud, integrating the technology on the back end and ensuring compatibility with OpenStack's application programming interface. SoftLayer's environment is built on Citrix CloudPlatform, which is based on OpenStack alternative Apache CloudStack, but industry experts speculate Big Blue may eventually remove the Citrix environment entirely.

Salesforce to acquire ExactTarget for $2.5 billion's intended $2.5 billion purchase of ExactTarget sparked plenty of debate from analysts and bloggers, as the company's largest deal to date absorbed the marketing software vendor at a premium of more than 50% per share, Reuters reported. ExactTarget's social media and email specialties will help fill gaps in Salesforce's marketing capabilities -- a key selling point as marketing departments become bigger IT buyers. The series of buys that Salesforce has made over the past year, including the $689 million acquisition of social marketing platform Buddy Media, has some analysts worried that so many mergers and acquisitions (M&As) could slow growth in Salesforce's core business. CEO Marc Benioff addressed the concern in a recent conference call, saying, "I really think what you are going to see is us taking a vacation from M&A [activity] for anywhere between probably 12 and 18 months."

Rackspace takes in Brocade Vyatta vRouter

Rackspace hybrid cloud customers now have the option to deploy Brocade's Vyatta vRouter, an addition that will enable such cloud networking services as virtual private network gateways, network address translation and routing. The vRouter also offers a virtual firewall to bolster existing physical firewalls, along with tools for users looking to connect their data centers to Rackspace's cloud. The firewall capabilities in vRouter offer customers a more practical approach to security than building firewalls out of Linux components, as customers had previously done, Rackspace CEO John Engates told Light Reading. The vRouter will become fully available to all Rackspace customers in about a month, potentially offering a test case for the use of virtual routers in the cloud.

Microsoft's targets cloud at TechEd

Among Microsoft's slew of announcements at its North American TechEd conference this week in New Orleans were several updates focusing on connecting Microsoft's cloud services to companies' on-premises systems. As InfoWorld reported, the new Windows Server 2012 R2 accelerates virtual machine live migration in Microsoft's Azure cloud services or a customer's on-premises, private cloud. The Windows Azure Pack that Microsoft plans to release will let organizations build their own private cloud, and includes a self-service portal for administrators to offer services to end users. TechEd attendees applauded the announcement of revamped Azure pricing, now billed by the minute rather than the hour. Microsoft also announced the new Hyper-V Recovery Manager and additional cloud offerings for bring-your-own-device monitoring through its Intune management service.

Cisco revamps partner program for cloud resellers

Cisco announced an overhaul of one piece of its Cloud Partner Program at the Cisco Partner Summit in Boston this week, laying out plans to boost resources and incentives for providers beginning the process of reselling cloud services from Cisco Cloud Providers. The Cloud Services Reseller partner program that Cisco established in 2011 will see some major changes aimed at helping partners that lack the resources or expertise to roll out their own cloud infrastructure or revenue models. Updates to the program include rebates on sales of Cisco Powered Services and a new rewards program with points based on volumes sold, giving partners the chance to earn discounts on Cisco products and training. New training tools include an online portal with access to such features as a provider-reseller matchmaker and a guide to transitioning from a pure reseller to a cloud and managed service provider.

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