Cloud Adoption in Europe

While cloud adoption booms around the world, Europe (especially Western Europe) seems to be moving at its own pace. This is somewhat surprising, because Western Europe is a high cost and high price market where adoption of new technologies used to be considered a differentiator against competition. This seems not to be the case for cloud computing—but why?

Let’s look at who can easily adopt cloud. The startup companies who save initial investment by not buying hardware themselves and receiving cloud services are great candidates. Especially when they intend to grow fast in the early years, cloud provides a perfect scalable platform. Traditionally, there are more startups based in the Americas and nowadays also in the Asia Pacific region than in Europe. One reason for that might be the amount of available venture capital. Europe tends to be more conservative and may take less risk in investments.

But, beside the startups, there are many mature companies and enterprises in Europe. Why are they adopting cloud more slowly?

One root cause is the diversity of national countries. This has a major impact on the following two areas that are prerequisites for successful cloud adaption:

Regulatory compliance issues: Every European country has its own set of data privacy rules and legislation. When using cloud computing, it is very likely that national boundaries are crossed, either by using a data center in another country or because the cloud service provider uses operational personnel sitting in a third party country. To be clear, this is not a potential show stopper, it just adds complexity. A CIO might feel safer keeping the data on his own property, just to be sure. The recent discussions about the NSA surveillance program and the US Patriot Act does not help here either.

Wide area network costs: Another disadvantage which directly derives from national diversity is the cost of wide area networks. International lines cost significantly more than data links within a country. This is caused by the original European structure of national carriers holding monopolies on the last mile.

But, beside national boundaries, client readiness is often a big blocker for cloud adoption. Many enterprises maintain security policies that are just not cloud ready. The cloud provider needs to be treated as a trusted partner and not as a third party. Many security policies are not flexible enough to adapt to the standards of the cloud provider.

Another reason is that many companies are not ready yet to give up a certain degree of control. This is not only in respect to infrastructure architecture, but also about server management. Servers in the cloud are still considered owned virtual machines. In reality, receiving cloud services means to use a cloud platform provided and owned by the cloud service provider.

As the world continues to adopt cloud, the situation starts to improve. More and more client decision makers understand the opportunities provided by cloud computing and are willing to invest. Regulatory compliance is starting to be more and more aligned, especially in the European Union. Lets see how cloud adoption develops in Europe!

The future of SmartCloud Enterprise+ aka Cloud Managed Services

Because of the recent SoftLayer acquisition, SmartCloud Enterprise (SCE) was sunset January 31st 2014. There were just to many overlaps between the two offerings and SoftLayer seemed to me the more mature platform with more functionality. So, that SCE was stopped (and functionality like SCAS is merged into SoftLayer) was not much of a surprise.

But what does this mean for SCE+ – or, what should it mean for it?

First of all, it means a name change. As announced on this year’s Pulse (IBM’s cloud conference), SCE+ will be rebranded to Cloud Managed Services (CMS).

Second, the good news, CMS/SCE+ will stay with a strong roadmap at least until 2017 (well, the roadmap is specified until 2017, so it is very likely that CMS/SCE+ will stay even beyond 2017. But who knows what happens in IT in the next 5 years 🙂

But why two offerings anyway?

In an essence, SCE+ and SoftLayer are positioned the same way as SCE+ and SCE were originally positioned:

  • SCE+ for cloud enabled workloads
  • SoftLayer for cloud native workloads


To understand this positioning a little bit better, lets discuss the current capabilities of each offering and the current planned roadmap items:


SoftLayer provides a highly flexible IaaS platform for cloud centric workloads. The underlying infrastructure is highly standardized and gives full control to the client for everything above the hypervisor including the operating system. Even if the client subscribes to one of the offered management options, it mainly means, SoftLayer is providing limited management tasks on a best can do basis, but without real SLAs and the client maintains full admin access to its instances.

The platform provides high flexibility, so all kind of possible setups can be implemented (by clients), but the responsibility for a given setup remains at the client, not at SoftLayer. In a nutshell, SoftLayer provides an IaaS environment with a very high degree of freedom and control for clients without taking over responsibilities for anything above the hypervisor.

These capabilities fit well for cloud centric or self-managed development (DevOps) workloads, but less for traditional high available workloads like SAP.

Cloud Managed Services (formally known as SmartCloud Enterprise+)

CMS on the other hand was designed and built to meet exactly the requirements of high available, managed production workloads originally hosted in client’s datacenters. CMS provides SLAs and technologies for accomodating high available workloads like clustering and disaster recovery (R1.4). While D/R setups can also be created on SoftLayer, the client must design, build and run them, but can not receive them as a service. This is the main differentiator in the SoftLayer / CMSpositioning. CMS is less flexible above the hypervisor, as it provides managed high available operating systems as a Service with given SLAs. To meet these SLAs, standards must be met and the underlying infrastructure must be technically capable to provide these SLAs (Tier 1 storage).

Due to the guaranteed service levels on the OS layer, this is IBM’s preferred platform for PaaS offerings of rather traditional software stacks like SAP or Oracle applications.


There are a lot of usecases were SoftLayer does not fit and CMS is the answer to fulfull the requirements. Based on the very clear distinct workloads for SoftLayer and CMS, there are no reasons to think about a CMS retirement.