One big issue for businesses in the cloud computing era is making sure that certain data and applications run in certain places for regulatory compliance or other reasons.

IBM IBM says its new Bluemix Local offering, available now, will enable that by letting business customers write their business applications once and then run them across a full complement of clouds worldwide and/or in their own data centers. And IBM can manage all those workloads. This is a portability story that, if it works as advertised, could be compelling to companies wary of cloud deployment but intrigued by its flexibility and possible cost savings.

Bluemix is IBM’s flavor of Cloud Foundry, an open-source software development platform. The techie term for that category is Platform as a Service. Developers at companies can build, test, and deploy custom applications using this set of software and services. One selling point of Cloud Foundry was that it purports to work across cloud infrastructures. The PivotalCF version, for example, runs on Amazon Web Services and VMware’s vCloud Air.

What IBM says it’s bringing to the table is automation to enable this to happen more easily and the ability to deploy both on-premises in a company’s own server rooms and in various other clouds.

Big Blue is making some big claims here. If this works as advertised and the price isn’t onerous, this could get traction.

John Rymer, principal analyst at Forrester Research FORR , said with Bluemix Local IBM is finally delivering on promises to offer a way for companies to run applications in various IBM-run clouds and in their own facilities. “This is about hybrid cloud and this is about portability,” said Rymer.

“This will give PivotalCF a run for its money,” Rymer added. PivotalCF is a commercial version of Cloud Foundry supported by Pivotal, the spin-off of EMC EMC and VMware VMW .

“Companies are asking about Pivotal which says something, but we have survey data that awareness of Pivotal is not that strong and competition is ramping up,” Rymer said. “For many large customers, IBM is tough to compete with.”

IBM has invested heavily in building its cloud business, starting two years ago with its $2 billion purchase of SoftLayer. Since then it says it’s put $1 billion into Bluemix, which runs atop SoftLayer infrastructure around the world.

Still, the company has a tough row to hoe in the public cloud arena where Amazon AMZN , Microsoft MSFT , and Google GOOG spend multiple billions a year in cloud infrastructure. That said, IBM can claim a cadre of big-name customers that might be more comfy moving their applications to an IBM-run service, a la Bluemix Local.

For more on IBM’s cloud-and-data strategy, check out the video.

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