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More IBM Tools Head for the Cloud

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IBM has launched an initiative that offers up a mix of on-premise and cloud computing applications to help its ISVs and partners offer those services to customers.

Big Blue is sprucing up its tools to help ISVs and clients collaborate and build their own cloud computing services.

The idea, IBM officials said, is to extend the company’s traditional software delivery model toward a mix of on-premise and cloud computing applications with new software, services and technical resources.

“Capital and access to capital used to be a problem for small businesses, and it’s a big problem now,” Sean Poulley, IBM’s vice president, online collaboration services, told In such a tight market, businesses “will see a lot of utility” in being able to buy subscription services and thus hold off capital expenditures, he added.

The goal is to help partners design, build, deliver and market those cloud services, sold as subscriptions. It also comes with some services from IBM. Through 2009, the company’s clients and partners will be able to call on cloud services specialists through its worldwide network of 13 cloud computing centers and 40 IBM Innovation Centers to help test applications that reside “in the cloud.”

IBM’s new cloud services are focused around collaboration and include a free open beta for Bluehouse, a social networking and collaboration cloud service designed to connect people from different businesses.

Bluehouse, unveiled in January, is a software as a service (SaaS) version of Lotus Connections. Connections, unveiled as part of IBM’s revamped Web 2.0 platform in January, is itself a revamped version of the vendor’s enterprise-oriented social networking software.

Jazzing Up the Workspace

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Essentially, the IBM cloud services deliver up a workspace. Not a new idea, but one that’s been refined to include Web conferencing and document sharing, IBM’s Poulley said. “It’s like the iPod compared to other MP3 players, it puts their capabilities together in an elegant, easy to use way,” he added.

BlueHouse differs from professional social network LinkedIn because it lets you own your data. “On LinkedIn, you don’t own your personal identity, and, from our point of view, the network we build up for you isn’t our network, it’s yours,” Poulley said. “You paid for it and you own your identity.”

Ultimately, though, it all comes down to business. “We’re leaning very heavily into collaboration and BlueHouse because 25 to 30 percent of the entire market opportunity is around collaboration and it is, without doubt, the largest segment and growing at a very high compound growth rate across the board.”

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