news IBM’s June 2013 acquisition of cloud computing company SoftLayer has started to pay off for Big Blue in Australia, with the company announcing last week that local creative digital agency The Loft Group had deployed its e-learning business platform on its Infrastructure as a Service infrastructure.
Up until the acquisition, SoftLayer billed itself as the largest privately held Infrastructure as a Service company in the world, with a network of datacentres throughout the United States, Asia and Europe competing with the likes of Amazon Web Services and Rackspace. The deal helped IBM form a new cloud computing division, bolstering Big Blue’s existing product offerings in the area.
In a statement issued last week, IBM noted that The Loft Group, a Melbourne-headquartered agency which specialised in creating e-learning campaigns for major companies, had adopted SoftLayer to “transform its business” and quickly scale to several new global markets.
The Loft Group traditionally designed and printed training manuals, most notably for the Australian subsidiary of the world’s largest cosmetics and beauty company, L’Oréal. Identifying changing market demands and an opportunity to revolutionise its business, the company developed a software-based design and delivery platform which completely digitised all client materials. After reviewing competitive bids from other well-known cloud providers, including Amazon Web Services, The Loft Group selected SoftLayer as the cloud platform for its global, digital e-learning campaigns.
Among other reasons, according to IBM, The Loft Group was attracted to IBM’s Softlayer because the technology provided the company’s customer support teams with the ability to use analytics to monitor and tune their networks, providing consistent and effective performance.
“Moving our services to the cloud allows us to achieve global scale and consistent performance across multiple countries, helping us grow at a pace which would have otherwise taken anywhere from 3-5 years,” said Garry Russell, The Loft Group product and services director. “To maintain our high standards of customer service, we wanted to be able to simultaneously monitor our global environment and load balance, as well as tune our performance to our customer’s needs in real time. Being able to precisely and quickly respond to our customers’ needs in every country is a critical pillar of our global expansion, and this level of performance tuning was one of SoftLayer’s biggest differentiators.”
According to IBM, The Loft Group’s cloud-based digital delivery method provides clients with an exclusive and personalised learning environment tailored to business and employee needs – engaging all learning styles with interactive modules; and encouraging participants to create their own scripts, highlight existing course content, and record memories of class activities with photos and videos. Accessible via smartphones or tablets anywhere and anytime, the mobile platform ensures each employee’s education journey continues to evolve and remain relevant to changing business and industry needs, IBM said.
“IBM’s reputation as a tier one IT provider was a focal point when we were going through the selection process,” said Gavin Russell, The Loft Group CEO and founder. “By working with a well-regarded company such as IBM, we are able to inspire confidence in our clients that our platform would be hosted in a robust and secure cloud environment. Global giants such as L’Oréal are extremely prudent when it comes to deploying new technology within their organizations, so having IBM’s brand power behind us makes it that much easier to get our business pitches across the line with clients.”
Launched earlier this month in Australia and New Zealand, The Loft Group’s now cloud-based learning platform will soon be available across Asia, Europe and North America in the coming months.
“The success of The Loft Group is an excellent demonstration of the power, security and agility that cloud computing can deliver – enabling a grassroots, local company of modest size to tackle global markets, quickly adapt to changing market and technology demands and expand at an extraordinary rate,” said Dean Evans, Cloud Computing Executive, IBM Australia and New Zealand.
“Using IBM’s cloud services, The Loft Group is now doing what previously only large companies with deep enterprise IT architectures could do. We are thrilled to not only be an integral part of The Loft Group’s journey, but also of the immense transformation possibilities cloud computing is bringing to businesses of all sizes.”
The news comes as rival companies such as Amazon Web Services and Rackspace have recently announced major investments in the Australian market, with both establishing local datacentres and support and sales staff and claiming strong sales growth. IBM has been slower off the mark to enter the cloud computing/IaaS market; the SoftLayer deal with The Loft Group represent one of the first major deals IBM has signed in this area in Australia.
Good to see IBM bringing some competition to this space in Australia; the growth of Amazon Web Services (and its popularity amongst IT startups and enterprises alike) needs to be checked by strong competition, keeping Jeff Bezos’ crew honest. Rackspace already does a great job of that, but having a trusted major player like IBM pushing hard also doesn’t hurt.