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IBM Cloud Infrastructure Investments Lead IBM Outsourcing Transformation

Overall IBM Group revenues in 2014 declined 6% (-1% in CC and excluding divestitures).

However, IBM is in the midst of a major adjustment of its portfolio. In line with this, the company is reporting $25bn in revenues (and 16% revenue growth) in 2014 (out of a total of $92.8bn) from its "strategic imperatives". IBM's acquisition of Softlayer, where it continues to invest strongly, appears to be delivering $3.5bn annual "as-a-service" run rate and IBM reports that its "Cloud" business had 2014 revenues of $7bn and 60% revenue growth (this includes hardware, software and services),

The revenue growth reported from IBM's other "strategic initiatives" were:

  • Analytics +7% (2014 revenue approx $17Bn)
  • Security +19%
  • Mobile >200%.

Maintaining a high mix of software remains important to IBM but its strategy is now much more nuanced than the simplistic "software good" strategy the company sometimes appeared to adopt in earlier years, with the company rediscovering success in IT infrastructure management. Indeed IBM's acquisition of SoftLayer and its ongoing investment in Cloud infrastructure including in additional in-country SoftLayer data centers and cloud enablers such as security and its Bluemix cloud development platform is arguably having more impact on its signings than any of its investments outside Watson and analytics. In Q4, IBM's cloud infrastructure business moved way beyond the standard fare of IaaS contracts with start-ups to facilitating major infrastructure transformation contracts with values of a $1bn+ with the likes of Lufthansa and WPP.

Indeed, while the impact of SoftLayer was insufficient to lead to material growth in IBM's outsourcing revenues in Q4 2014, its impact is certain to be felt on outsourcing revenue growth  in 2015 as a result of these and additional major transformations to cloud infrastructure. Led by these deals, IBM's outsourcing signings transformed in Q4 2014, up 31% (in constant currency and adjusted for disposals). IBM now just needs its application management business, which is continuing to decline under competitive pressure, to undergo a similar transformation.

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