February 1, 2011

IBM Stepping Up Its Game In Cloud Computer Market

IBM wants to dislodge Microsoft's desktop-bound business software by soliciting an update of its Lotus programs designed to harness the mobility and collaboration possible through cloud computing. 

IBM invited Research In Motion's co-Chief Executive Jim Balsillie to the stage during an IBM conference in Orlando on Monday to display IBM's newest wares on RIM's unreleased PlayBook tablet.

The move to cloud-computing is linked to the booming use of smartphones and tablet computers, particularly in offices.

Balsillie demonstrated how a PlayBook user could receive an email from a contact in a Lotus email program and quickly look up his profile in Lotus Connections and invite him into a social network.

Forrester analyst Ted Schadler told Reuters that IBM's invitation to RIM was strategic for both companies.  He said that IBM was ahead of Cisco, Google and Microsoft in a shifting market to use cloud-based applications to aid sales, marketing, customer service and product development teams.

IBM "can have their cake and eat it too. They can show solidarity with RIM, and at the same time everyone knows they're running on iPad," he said, referring to Apple's tablet.

According to research company IDC, the global market for social platforms is expected to almost triple to $1.8 billion by 2014.

IBM said that its launch of a cloud-based version of LotusLive Symphony would enable its customers to co-edit documents, spreadsheets and presentations at the same time from multiple locations.

The office productivity suite will be available in the second half of 2011 on RIM and Apple devices, as well as Nokia and Android-based smartphones.

IBM also refreshed its Lotus Notes email, Connections file-sharing and networking software, and Lotus Sametime instant messaging software.

With the revamp, "IBM is the leading alternative for organizations looking to break free of costly Microsoft Office desktops," the New York-based company said in a statement.

"IBM is trying to get out from the email war (with Microsoft) and take collaboration ... much deeper into the business with a bigger toolset and deeper ties to business processes," Forrester's Schadler said.

IBM said that insurer Zurich Financial's North America unit uses IBM software on iPads to connect 60,000 mobile workers with email, calendar, contacts and directories.

General Motors, the University of Zurich and Russian wireless carrier Vimpelcom all use its social software for mobile devices.

IBM said it spent $42 million to expand cloud-computing facilities in Canada to keep confidential information secure within the country to comply with privacy laws.


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