IBM pushing ‘Blue Cloud’ plan to big business

IBM is staking out a major new source of business helping clients like banks or retailers manage data centres on a par with companies like Google or Microsoft, a top official says.

IBM pushing 'Blue Cloud' plan to big business

Bill Zeitler, the executive in charge of IBM’s hardware business, says the initiative to set up customers with the technology, software and services to operate data centres could rank in significance with IBM’s support for Linux in recent years or its push to get businesses on the internet the 1990s.

IBM has dubbed its new strategy “Blue Cloud.” The name is a play on IBM’s corporate nickname “Big Blue” and “cloud computing,” the trend by internet powerhouses to array huge numbers of computers in centralised data centres to deliver web-based applications to users, rather than making their customers run such programs on their local machines.

IBM, which pioneered centralised data centres decades ago, is looking to arm its customers with technology similar to what it has long offered in the form of hosted services for clients who rely on IBM to operate their data centres for them.

It now wants to help customers build data centres for themselves composed of thousands of low-cost personal computers, equipping them with the data-crunching power of consumer internet giants Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and Amazon.

“I think Google and Amazon are on to something,” says Zeitler. “Our particular focus is taking these standards of internet computing and bringing them to the mainstream in the commercial world.”

Zeitler declined to say how much revenue its cloud computing strategy might produce, saying IBM was still sizing up prospects. “We think this is a big move in the market and we are going to make a big move behind it,” says Zeitler, a 38-year IBM veteran whose full title is senior vice president and group executive of IBM’s Systems and Technology Group.

In its initial phase, IBM plans to make 200 IBM researchers available to work with clients, which may include both businesses large and small, university research centres as well as government agencies.

The first products of the program are set to be available in spring of 2008, IBM says.

One initial customer of IBM’s Blue Cloud strategy will be the government of Vietnam, and it is working with a non-US automaker, the Armonk.

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