IBM beefs up its federal cloud effort with new data centers

In a sign that competition for federal computing dollars remains white hot, IBM(s ibm) said it’s opening two new data centers to run federal workloads on IBM SoftLayer cloud. The first facility, in Softlayer’s home town of Dallas, will open later in this month and the other, in data center-rich Ashburn, Virg. will come online later this year, IBM said.

While the centers “were designed to meet” Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) requirements, it’s not clear that IBM’s SoftLayer-based cloud even has that certification yet. Cloud providers must have FedRAMP certification to compete for government business.

SoftLayer cloud’s predecessor, IBM SmartCloud for Government, got FedRAMP approval in November. At that time, IBM said the company was prepping a SoftLayer government cloud to be available in early 2015, so I’m guessing these new data centers will run that implementation and this is something to discuss with Lance Crosby, CEO and GM of IBM’s SoftLayer cloud unit at Structure.

Lance Crosby CEO of IBM's SoftLayer business.

Lance Crosby CEO of IBM’s SoftLayer business.

Earlier this week IBM launched Direct Link, which establishes a dedicated network connection from customers’ own IT infrastructure to SoftLayer’s private network and cloud services.

IBM and traditional rivals like HP(s hpq) and Dell are battling with cloud-born giants Amazon(s amzn) Web Services more and more for business — and government workloads — the sorts of jobs that IBM, with its big Federal and services groups, used to be able to count on. But cloud computing has changed everything, as evidenced by the traction AWS has gotten. The CIA, for example, awarded its much-contested cloud contract to AWS over IBM.