A recent interview with George Kandis, International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM)’s chief strategy officer, highlighted Big Blue’s unwavering commitment to the cloud and the rapid growth of SoftLayer, the crown jewel of the tech giant’s cloud strategy.

Softlayer IBM

Kandis was interviewed by Charles Babcock of InformationWeek over the weekend.

Rapid growth for SoftLayer

Softlayer is growing at almost seven times the rate it was as an independent company, Kandis said in the interview. In fact, SoftLayer has gained more than 6,000 new customers. Kandis says SoftLayer’s customer base was largely of small and midsized companies, with many rapidly expanding into much larger companies. Nearly all were looking to expand infrastructure rapidly, which is where SoftLayer stepped up to the plate.

Kandis, who was also chief strategy officer of SoftLayer prior to its $2 billion acquisition in July of last year, points out that SoftLayer is now evolving to also service International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM)’s largest outsourcing customers — including  Fortune 500 companies Whirlpool and insurer Generali Group.

Regional data center strategy

Big Blue has already announced it plans to have 40 SoftLayer datacenters in operation worldwide by the end of this year. The plan is to add 15 new data centers to SoftLayer’s existing 13, and integrate another 12 of its own into the SoftLayer global datacenter network.

A new SoftLayer datacenter just opened in London Monday, and the default server is equipped with solid-state disks (SSD), Kandis said.

Moreover, new datacenters opened in Hong Kong and Dallas in the last couple of months. Plans call for three more to open in Melbourne, Ashburn, Va. and Toronto. The new centers in Dallas and Washington, D.C. are built to comply with Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) and Federal Information Security Management (FISMA) specifications for work with federal government agencies.

Still focused on small and midsized firms

Kandis explains that SoftLayer has long intended its datacenters to be linked by high-speed fiber optic lines with the flexible, multi-protocol label switching protocol. The firm now provides access to its cloud centers using private lines through its Direct Link service. Kandis points out this means clients may route workloads to SoftLayer without having to use the Internet.

A global chain of modern datacenters means SoftLayer can provide an expanding midsized company with IT infrastructure services in areas where it might not want to risk establishing its own datacenter. “In some parts of the world, the infrastructure isn’t as robust as they may be used to. We’re giving customers an ability to spread out geographically” without building more datacenters, Kandis elaborates.