A charitable assessment might have called it an experiment, really; an experiment to find out if the headwinds on the hardware and infrastructure services side of the house could be mitigated to some meaningful extent by perceived tailwinds on the software side of the house. A less charitable assessment might have called it a gamble…
But now, with the (Sunday evening) October 28, 2018 announcement that it will be acquiring open source software leader, Red Hat for an astounding multiple of nearly 12x FY2018 revenue, or $34 billion, IBM signals that the promise of the high-profile experiment / gamble within their software group – relabeled, Cognitive Solutions in 2015, and where “Watson” became the poster child for the recent hyperbolic expectations of artificial intelligence (AI) – was not likely to arrive soon enough to stem the internal bleeding caused by competitive threats within the cloud infrastructure services market.
With Red Hat, IBM now turns to defend its 3rd fiddle position in the cloud market (just ahead of Google) – which includes hybrid cloud and other infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) offerings – where primarily Amazon Web Services followed by Microsoft Azure have staked out formidable beachheads that threaten IBM’s core on-premises and hybrid cloud businesses, and furthermore where the likes of HPE, Dell EMC, Cisco and others have also been cooking up new moves to become more competitive in this overall market.
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