IBM Plans To Boost Cloud Tech In 2010

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IBM will ramp up its cloud computing efforts in the messaging and collaboration market in 2010

Customers and industry watchers can expect IBM to accelerate its cloud computing efforts into 2010 and beyond, investing at a rate that is commensurate to a $120 billion (£74bn) cloud computing market, an IBM executive told eWEEK.

Cloud computing is a broad term that encompasses many things in the IT sector, but it’s most commonly understood as computing resources that a provider hosts and provisions to customers over an Internet connection. IBM in 2009 rolled out several cloud-oriented initiative covering servers and storage.

However, collaboration is the major battle front for the cloud. Google got things rolling in February 2007 by rolling out a premier edition of its Google Apps hosted collaboration software. IBM’s Lotus group pointed in this direction at Lotusphere 2008 with talk of Bluehouse, a SAAS initiative for SMBs.

IBM first began treating cloud computing as a major platform opportunity in its Lotus collaboration software group at Lotusphere 2009, when the company renamed Bluehouse LotusLive.

From January through October, IBM launched LotusLive Engage, a broad social networking and collaboration platform, LotusLive Connections, a SAAS (software as a service) version of its social networking suite, and LotusLive iNotes, a hosted e-mail platform that boasts 18 million seats, many of which came with the platform when IBM acquired Outblaze.

Taken together, these tools make IBM a viable enterprise collaboration provider. While Google, Microsoft, and others offer similar SAAS collaboration suites, IBM also offers hosted social networking tools, something that Google and Microsoft solutions lack.

While IBM’s size has often slowed its entrance to new markets, the company’s adoption of the cloud is well-timed, Sean Poulley, vice president of online collaboration for Lotus Software, told eWEEK.

“IBM is in earlier in the cloud than it has moved into the market in the last 10 years,” Poulley said. “The reason is that we have a unique set of assets that no one else that is comparable to IBM has in that we have world-class delivery skills in our global services organisation, we have world-class infrastructure software and we have world-class experience of running other peoples’ systems in a 24-by-7, 99.999 percent availability, way.”

Looking forward, Poulley said IBM will ramp up its investments in cloud computing in 2010 and beyond, including acquisitions, new research and development and product delivery. Moreover, much like Microsoft’s software-plus-services strategy of mixing SAAS with on-premise solutions, IBM also believes in a hybrid world.

“There are trillions of dollars in invested capital in applications and infrastructure and companies aren’t going to throw all of that stuff away,” Poulley said. “One of the big things that’s going to happen in the next year is this whole idea of hybrid, on-premise and cloud integration. I think of it in terms of extending the enterprise perimeter to the cloud.”

In 2010, IBM will use the cloud to create simple business processes across company firewalls. Though Poulley declined to provide specific details about this effort, he said people will hear more beginning one month from today at IBM’s Lotusphere 2010. “That is going to unlock the enterprise’s hesitancy to move to the cloud at a much greater pace.”

The hybrid SAAS meets on-premise model is one way IBM and Microsoft differ from Google, which is banking on a vastly-improved HTLM5 markup language to push collaboration to a Web-only world. Don Dodge, one of the many former Microsoft employees who joined Google, claims Google Apps will take off in 2010.

To wit, 2010 is shaping up to be quite the cloud arms race between not only Google, IBM and Microsoft, but newcomers such as Cisco Systems and smaller startups such as Zoho

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