IBM paid ~$2B to acquire SoftLayer, Bloomberg and the NYT report. GigaOm notes the startup "could help bring order" to the "extremely messy legacy code" behind IBM's Smart Cloud offerings. An IBM exec claims SoftLayer provides needed expertise for supporting private and hybrid clouds, as IBM offers value-added software/services on top of basic infrastructure offerings. Will IBM/SoftLayer pose a challenge to Amazon Web Services (AMZN)? Like AWS, SoftLayer claims many Web/cloud firms as clients, and its support for hybrid server environments is a selling point. But it remains to be seen if IBM will match AWS' aggressive pricing. The purchase comes as IBM protests a $600M deal Amazon scored with the CIA.