February 11, 2009

IBM Steps Up Cloud Computing Agenda

IBM made announcements on Tuesday that show the company is moving even further into its cloud computing service offerings.

Erich Clementi, IBM's vice president for strategy, recently also became general manager of enterprise initiatives, with responsibility for Blue Cloud. He said the current economic climate is another indication that consumers may be more inclined to use cloud computing.

"Since customers are looking for new economics, this might be a good moment for clouds," Clementi told the Wall Street Journal, adding that using cloud services can be cheaper than physically adding capacity in a data center.

Cloud computing allows a group to use the IT-related capabilities via the Internet without having to control the technology infrastructure that supports them. It lets companies have someone else run their software remotely for a monthly or annual fee, with users accessing the programs over live Internet connections.

"Cloud computing leverages many of IBM's core strength ... and gives clients the opportunity to leverage cloud computing's considerable cost advantages, while maintaining the highest levels of integrity, responsibility and control," Clementi said.

The business of cloud computing is expected to grow to $42 billion in the next three years, according to industry tracking IDC.

IBM has announced new cloud computing customers including Elizabeth Arden, Indigo Bio Systems, Nexxera, and the US Golf Association.

IBM also unveiled an "overflow cloud" that can act as a computing safety net in instances when business networks are overwhelmed.

"Enterprises are now facing a breaking point with their IT systems," IBM said in a release.

"Some systems can't share information and workloads, servers are highly underutilized and the cost of energy is becoming greater than the value of the systems the energy powers. Cloud computing changes these economics dramatically."

IBM may face competition from Google Inc., who currently offers several simple office services, such as e-mail, word processing, spreadsheets and calendar applications through an online connection.

Additionally, some expect Google's long-rumored GDrive to eventually do away with the concept of a desktop computer by allowing users to access their computer via Internet connection.

"There's a clear direction ... away from people thinking, 'This is my PC, this is my hard drive,' to 'This is how I interact with information, this is how I interact with the web,'" Dave Armstrong, head of product and marketing for Google Enterprise, told the Britain's Observer newspaper last year. However, Google has refused to comment on the GDrive.


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