Amazon leads the public cloud race. And Microsoft is the fastest growing provider of cloud infrastructure. So how does IBM figure into the conversation? The technology giant prefers to shift the conversation to hybrid clouds.

The public cloud services battle has essentially come down to six companies: Amazon (28 percent market share); Microsoft (10 percent); IBM (7 percent); Google (5 percent); Salesforce (4 percent) and Rackspace (3 percent) -- followed by numerous niche players, according to Synergy Research Group.

Microsoft is larger and growing faster than IBM -- further solidifying its No. 2 spot on the public cloud services list, according to the latest Synergy Research Group data. But IBM is quick to point to hybrid cloud momentum. The effort, according to multiple IBM statements in recent days, includes:

  • Investing more than $1.2 billion to build and expand 40 cloud centers to every major financial market around the world around.
  • Invested $1 billion to develop Bluemix as a service to help developers and customers create hybrid cloud applications.
  • Building and launching more than 120 SaaS offerings.

True believers include Kallo, Marriott International, Opera Software and Sohonet -- each of which has selected IBM Cloud for various applications, the technology giant said today.
Remaking IBM

No doubt, IBM is in transition mode -- pushing beyond traditional hardware, software and IT services to more aggressively promote cloud, mobile, social and big data offerings. But Wall Street can't quite figure out how far along IBM is in that transition.

The technology giant has announced 11 straight quarters of declining or flat revenues. Rumors of mass layoffs have been overblown, but some analysts believe the company has cut about 6,000 to 8,000 jobs -- or less than 2 percent of the workforce.

Anecdotal evidence suggests IBM's cloud push is gaining momentum. The SoftLayer business gives IBM a true alternative to Amazon, Microsoft and Google in the public cloud sector. But again, both Amazon and Microsoft are larger -- and growing faster -- in that space.

That explains why IBM prefers to put the focus on hybrid cloud services -- where the company hopes to give CIOs the best of both worlds for the long haul.

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