by Staff Reports • @IBMinsights

NiSource to deliver efficient, reliable service through SoftLayer hybrid cloud

Published May 30, 2014


As technologies advance and companies have more resources, applications, and data on different platforms, hybrid cloud environments increase in popularity.

NiSource recently signed a 7-year agreement with IBM for the continuation of IT services, including creating and managing a hybrid cloud computing environment. The deal is valued at approximately $600 million, similar to previous NiSource-IBM service agreements.

“NiSource is a powerful example of how companies today are turning to the cloud as a competitive lever for their business,” says Philip Guido, General Manager, IBM Global Technology Services, North America, in a press release. “Embracing the cloud not only provides a better way to integrate hybrid IT systems, it enables companies to forge new pathways to innovation and improve services by applying technologies such as analytics across their enterprise.”

NiSource, a public utility company based in Indiana, hopes this deal will help business innovation and develop new pathways for further growth. Through this agreement, IBM will help NiSource create a hybrid IT environment that can deliver and respond quickly to the company’s needs and demands. The model will use IBM SoftLayer, as well as a private secure cloud powered by traditional infrastructure.

3 steps to moving business operations into a hybrid cloud >>


“For most organizations, moving from a traditional IT environment to the cloud will not be one step, but rather a journey over time,” says Whitefield. “To get there, it is critical to take the right steps.”

1. Think it: The first step is to think about which workloads work best in the cloud based on workload characteristics and business value. You need to think about how to use cloud to drive not just cost savings, but innovation, revenue and growth.

2. Build it: Once you have a cloud strategy in place, you have to define the standards for your organization that enables you to implement a single portal and select the right technologies and services to build the right hybrid model.

3. Tap into it: Once you have the ability to orchestrate various cloud services, you want to quickly leverage cloud infrastructure, analytics, and SaaS business applications to take advantage of the speed, flexibility and agility in the cloud to accelerate innovation.

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"Like NiSource, many companies are looking for ways to take advantage of the cloud with all its additional data access, connections and efficiencies," says Brian Whitfeild, the General Manager for Strategic Outsourcing in North America for IBM Global Technology Services. "They want to be sure they are starting with applications that make sense for their business, while maintaining the integrity of their data and existing investments. The answer is hybrid cloud."

IBM’s cloud technologies will allow NiSource to capitalize and extend their environments with elastic infrastructure. This hybrid cloud allows for additional data access, connections, and efficiencies through the creation of a single portal. NiSource plans to create and maintain applications that are business specific to their company, while maintaining the integrity of their data and already existing investments. The hybrid environment creates a more efficient workflow through better computing workloads to the best-fit infrastructure, quicker responses to changes in business demands, and more easily accessed new capabilities such as analytics or mobile technology.

According to Whitfeild, the critical component to effectively manage a hybrid environment is automation, which enables an organization to seamlessly work across on-premise and off-premise models and automatically assign workloads to the optimal delivery model based on the workload characteristics.

Other components to the hybrid environment:

• It allows the best choice for applications to be used regardless of platforms

• Analytics will be based on best fit and can be migrated with any specific demand

• It will allow for greater capacity and efficiency and greater integration and composability. This will help NiSource focus on customer service, system security, and business application performance.

“Our longtime partnership with IBM has been built on a shared commitment to innovation, performance and continuous improvement,” says Violet Sistovaris, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer at NiSource, in the release. “This new agreement builds on our existing partnership and keeps us on a trajectory to further leverage IBM’s extensive capabilities, new delivery models and advanced technologies to deliver efficient, reliable service to our customers.”

5 advantages to implementing a hybrid cloud>>


According to Whitefield, hybrid leverages the best of both worlds, leading to better business outcomes such as:

  1. For companies with large IT investments, hybrid allows them to seamlessly combine their existing infrastructure with elastic models by defining an orchestration model that places work in the most effective delivery model. 
  2. Hybrid allows organizations to keep some workloads on best-fit infrastructure and move others to public cloud for better economics.
  3. It affords the right balance of risk to speed, by enabling you to keep critical, sensitive data in house and implement faster, more agile applications in a cloud.
  4. You can extend your current IT and private clouds with public capabilities to meet seasonal capacity requirements (for example, holiday peaks) without the need for additional CAPEX.
  5. Hybrid allows you to meet the ever changing demands that come with today's new mobile, social and analytics driven systems of engagement.

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This new agreement will also allow NiSource the ability to access and collaborate with the IBM Client Center for Advanced Analytics to bring new analytic capabilities that further enable the company to solve business challenges. The center, located in Columbus, Ohio, is the first of its kind partnership with the state of Ohio, Ohio State University, and other select partners in the region. The center is built to design, build, manage, and support advanced analytics across different industries. It provides IBM clients easy access local and global IBM researchers and subject matter experts who can help accelerate time to value by applying proven analytic solutions that address specific business challenges. This will free up NiSource’s, as well as other participant’s, space and resources for greater IT initiatives.

According to IBM, 61 percent of enterprises are expected to be using hybrid cloud environments by the end of the year. This deal reminds companies that the integration of cloud technologies is a constant journey and not a single step process.



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