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SoftLayer’s Lance Crosby explained at Structure how IBM’s purchase benefited the company, the cloud-storage wars and what he tells CIOs about the cloud.

Lance Crosby SoftLayer IBM Structure 2014

The past few years have been quite a ride for Lance Crosby, CEO of SoftLayer, an IBM company. Speaking at Gigaom’s Structure conference in San Francisco, Crosby explained how his company went through a customer evolution of sorts from 2005 to 2010, when a sizable chunk of Fortune 500 companies becoming clients. With that influx of big-time companies, SoftLayer was looking for a partner to help service them.

Last year’s acquisition by IBM gave SoftLayer the means to tackle its customer challenge, with IBM’s many data centers providing the basis from which SoftLayer could apply its software smarts to aid its clients, Crosby said.

Of course, it’s a competitive world out there even with SoftLayer’s ability to tap into IBM’s resources, but issues like the cloud-storage wars don’t seem to bother Crosby.

“Trees don’t grow in the sky so you can’t go to zero,” said Crosby in reference to how there is a limit to how much companies like Google and Amazon can drop the price of storage.

What makes SoftLayer stand out from the pack, Crosby said, is the company’s expertise in security, which is a huge concern for the CIOs he speaks to. Crosby also explained how these CIOs misunderstand the benefits of the cloud and think that doing cloud computing right means all you have to do is transfer your documents and files from on-premise to the cloud.

The cloud provides the means for companies to develop custom-tailored services that can enhance your organization and give you a competitive advantage, he said.

“I tell them to use clouds to build on these ingredients before someone else does it for you,” Crosby said.

Photo by Jakub Mosur

Structure 2014 ticker