BLOG POST: IBM’s Bridge to Cloud – what is it about?

For those of you who have IBM products such as: Cognos, Tealeaf, SPSS, Rational, Websphere, DB2, FileNet and Maximo; you may have heard from your IBM representative or partner about the Bridge to Cloud offerings that are currently available.

This offer enables you to leverage your existing IBM Subscription and Support (Yearly Renewal Cost) and Bridge to Cloud, which provides an environment running alongside your existing on-premise environment. At the end of your renewal period, you have the option to move your IBM software deployment to the cloud, or decline the offer and remain on-premise.

Of course, there are commercial considerations which will be dependent on your existing renewal agreement. The offers we work on, require a relatively small uplift on the current renewal fee.

“So what? Why would I be interested?”

Well, this option provides a nice entry point into IBM’s cloud deployments without the need for significant investment. It gives you a chance to review, risk-free, how IBM cloud solutions will work for your business.

I’ve summarised below some of the benefits, and the potential challenges. Ahead of this, it’s worth noting that this is my view, and not that of IBM’s. My experience is largely based around Analytics and Performance Management applications, data repositories and appliances. My focus is supporting our customers first, and IBM second.

Why Look at this Option?

  • This is an opportunity to explore the latest offerings in your supported product sets, without the need for further software/hardware investment, or an upgrade project. Train, test and promote without impacting your current environment. Our customers have seen this as a key advantage, particularly for testing upgrades or for those customers on legacy products who need to test new products.
  • We have found that having an external instance has been useful to extend the value of the software to a wider audience. For example, Security profiles, VPN and associated infrastructure is needed to get reports out to users such as field sales, external suppliers, remote workers, which often means it doesn’t happen – having a cloud version mitigates this issue.
  • Don’t forget the typical cloud benefits you’d expect, such as automatic disaster recovery, back-ups, and maintenance-free operating systems; are all part of IBM’s cloud offerings.
  • IBM’s development focus looks to be increasingly focused on cloud first so in aligning with them, you’ll see all the new features first.
  • Little to no additional cost as this typically involves only an uplift on your existing IBM Software renewal, and does not mean you must commit for any longer than your renewal period – or lose your existing investment in on-premise.
  • Wider functionality may be included that you don’t currently have. For example, with Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytics, there are some of the Watson Analytics features included for self-guided data discovery, which are chargeable add-ons with on-premise. This is a great way to explore the fantastic new technology IBM is deploying, without having to invest and commit to it.Flexibility of fees – should you migrate to cloud, a range of options around charging can come into play. These include:
    • Paying monthly/quarterly or annually (unlike a lot of Cloud solutions)
    • Taking advantage of “overage” – add users reactively for short term use, without risk of noncompliance, or an extended commercial cycle
    • Commit to as little as 3 months (a great way to undertake Proof of Concepts on new products)
    • Choose when you take your upgrade from IBM
    • Simplified Licence roles and greater clarity on functionality (product specific). The great news is that you can explore this upfront without the influence of sales representatives (more information on the IBM website here).

Whilst there are many fantastic reasons to bridge, there are still several factors to consider:

Considerations

  • It’s not going to come for free, there will be an uplift on your renewal. But on balance, we see this as an opportunity to make the most of IBM’s push to the cloud and we can certainly help our customers to get a good deal!
  • It is worth making sure that you are clear what will happen at the end of the renewal period, and what the price will be should you move entirely to Cloud, or remain with your existing licence footprints.
  • Whilst line of business led solutions like Planning Analytics and Watson Analytics can liberate IT from certain processes by reducing their workload, there are several aspects and terms and conditions to consider, for which relevant parties in IT will need to be involved in.
  • Charging metrics are different from on-premise (although as above, there are many advantages), but these do need to be understood, especially the limitations – for Analytics product sets, these typically revolve around data movements and memory.
  • Testing process around upgrade is still required. If you make the full move to cloud, make sure you consider the availability of non-production. Again, this depends on what service you buy and the details of the licence you can use.

So, to summarise?

Technology is advancing so quickly, that it is very easy to fall behind. The demands from business users increase every year. We firmly believe that Cloud provides a more agile, iterative and effective environment, where it is far easier to extend the value of your investment and keep it up to date as technology advances.

One point to be aware of; IBM will create a quote specifically for you, which can take some time to turn around, so review this offer well ahead of your renewal date. And remember, this offer may not be around forever, so take advantage whilst you can!

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