Total Pageviews

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

I.B.M. Inflates Its Cloud

For all the money it has spent, you don’t hear about I.B.M. as a powerhouse of cloud computing-based services. Cloud computing is still a tiny fraction of the company’s $106 billion in annual revenue. Still, I.B.M. has spent more than $4 billion acquiring cloud computing-based services in the last few years, and recently bought a big public cloud.

I.B.M. apparently feels that attention must be paid.

The company is certainly gearing up for a much bigger push in cloud-delivered software. The first step is packaging the products in new ways, to address a much bigger customer base that’s a little lower on the corporate pyramid.

On Tuesday, the company showed off a series of cloud products centered around such popular topics as Big Data and social analytics for marketing, as well as human resources, sales, customer care and procurement software delivered over the cloud. In all, I.B.M. says it has more than 100 cloud applications.

The announcement signifies that under Virginia M. Rmetty, its chief executive, I.B.M., like other incumbent technology giants, is being forced to change its ways.

I.B.M. used to sell complex hardware, software and services packages to chief executives and their ilk. In the new world, it must also offer products for executives more directly involved with day-to-day operations that their departments can use without complex training or lengthy procurement, hassles like installing servers.

That approach is how many cloud upstarts, like Salesforce.com, even Yammer, made their way into companies, back when the cloud business was starting out.

Earlier this month, I.B.M. agreed to pay about $2 billion for SoftLayer, which has a global network of 13 data centers. Coupled with I.B.M.’s own data centers, SoftLayer should make it easier to deliver software over a so-called public cloud, as opposed to a company’s own mach! ines.

Public clouds like Amazon Web Services, where many companies share computing space, have become an increasingly accepted part of enterprise technology.

Moving to a public model can’t have been easy for a company that made mainframe computers for corporations â€" its stock in trade for decades. But it points to I.B.M. for changing with the times.