IBM kills its Education Cloud after just two-and-a-bit years

Boffins given five months to migrate, with vanilla DaaS suggested as the alternative

IBM has killed its Cloud for Education – a service it launched just two years ago and touted as "infrastructure and services for academic and research lab compute needs."

IBM Cloud for Education offered a handful of research-centric VM types pre-configured with apps like its own SPSS statistical software.

Big Blue launched the service in April 2021, when it stated "As educational institutions transition to remote learning due to the changing nature of education or the pandemic, it is essential to make computing lab resources accessible off-campus."

On June 30, with educational institutions once again operating from their physical campuses, IBM announced it has deprecated the service, effective immediately.

Big Blue's FAQ asks why it's closing the service and answers as follows:

IBM continues to evaluate its service offerings periodically keeping in perspective our customer requirements and service offering consumption. Since the launch of Cloud for Education, new catalog services such as VPC, Code Engine, and third party services from Dizzion and Citrix can now provide the capabilities required by the academic community, superseding the capabilities of the Cloud for Education service.

The service will operate as usual until November 30, 2023. Users have been urged to have a chat with IBM about what they do next – Big Blue promises it will be in touch, but has already warned the chats will all involve how to migrate data and workloads.

IBM's cloudy history is complex. In 2013 the elder of the IT scene realized it was trailing hyperscale rivals badly, so acquired IaaS operator SoftLayer and made it the foundation of its own public cloud.

SoftLayer turned out not to operate or scale as well as hoped, earning IBM a laggard status from analyst firm Gartner. Big Blue therefore baked a plan for a next-generation cloud – but that was slow to emerge and ran alongside SoftLayer for a time, producing a confusing user experience.

Reliability was also not a strong point for the Big Blue cloud, which in 2020 went down worldwide for a handful of hours. Even the service's status page went down, because it was hosted on IBM cloud – an arrangement that suggested IBM does not grok the resilience requirements of a public cloud.

In 2022 Gartner was still unconvinced IBM had put its reliability issues behind it, or finished integration with Red Hat.

And here we are – with a two-and-a-bit-year-old service biting the dust.

IBM may have a point that the end of the pandemic makes its Education Cloud less relevant, but a secular trend across IT is for more workloads to go cloudy. The FAQ's mentions of Dizzion and Citrix – both of which provide desktops-as-a-service – as worthy alternatives to Education Cloud suggests vanilla DaaS proved more useful than IBM's offering. ®

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