IBM revamps cloud strategy
IBM has overhauled its strategy for cloud computing, which involves selling computing services from centralised data centres, in the latest attempt to kickstart a business that it hopes will become a mainstay over the long term.

Fuente:  Fecha: 2.11.2010

The move reflects a broader rethink by the technology industry as it tries to make one of the most talked-about IT trends more palatable to large business customers, which have so far held back from cloud computing.

Rather than try to encourage companies to hand all their data to IBM to be stored and processed, the company said it planned to sell individual services from its data centres that could be integrated into a company’s existing IT systems.

“We’re trying to play to our strengths,” said Mike Daniels, head of IBM’s services division. The move would leave companies in control of their IT but was meant to bring greater flexibility and lower cost by standardising particular parts of their processes, he said.

The repositioning echoes IBM’s big strategic shift in the early 1990s, when it first turned to services as a way to protect itself from disruptive changes in the computer hardware business, said Frank Gens, an analyst at IDC. “IBM has been through near-death experiences in the past – they’ve worked out that they need to be at the leading edge [of change], but also at the high-value end of the spectrum,” he said.

Selling through the services division would give it an edge over tech companies that lack a similar capability and help avoid the commoditisation already coming to some aspects of cloud computing, he added.

As the largest tech company selling mainly to large business and government customers, IBM has made several earlier attempts to build a business around cloud computing, but executives concede these have yet to gain much of a foothold.

Differences of opinion internally over the direction that IBM should take has complicated the search for a comprehensive strategy. “There were as many views as there were people,” said Erich Clementi, who was given the job two years ago of setting the company’s cloud computing direction.

IBM’s move echoes a wider rethink by tech groups, such as Microsoft, as they try to turn cloud computing into a mainstream business.

It “is going to become an important part of [IBM’s] services business, and over 10 years it’s going to become the dominant part”, said Mr Gens.

Earlier this year, Microsoft revamped its strategy by selling a new version of Windows Azure – an operating system designed for its own data centres – direct to companies to run their own systems on.
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