IBM Expands Cloud Computing Offerings

IBM's vision is that businesses will ultimately have a mixture of applications and data that reside in both the data center and the cloud, said Dave Mitchell, strategy director of IBM developer relationships. To that end the company is developing its own branded cloud services portfolio, providing cloud-computing environments for businesses, helping ISVs design and build cloud services and helping customers integrate cloud services into their business operations.

Most of the new services will be available for resale by IBM's channel partners. IBM also debuted cloud services resources for ISVs including a series of white papers, on-line demos and downloadable code to assist them with building cloud-enabled services. And the vendor is assembling a network of SaaS infrastructure service providers, including iTricity, Rackforce and Terremark, that ISVs can call on to host their SaaS applications.

IBM is also piloting a new pricing model for middleware products for channel partners that aligns reseller costs and earned discounts with software-as-a-service subscription fee payments, Mitchell said. Unlike traditional software license sales that provide resellers with a big upfront payment, SaaS subscription fees generate a recurring revenue stream. The trial pricing is slated to continue through the middle of next year.

Topping the list of new cloud computing services is the open beta of "Bluehouse," the social networking and collaboration toolset that lets businesses work cooperatively with their partners, customers and suppliers through firewalls and across organizational boundaries. First announced at Lotusphere earlier this year when it went into limited beta testing, Bluehouse will go into open beta later this month, said BethAnn Cregg, director of IBM Lotus' collaboration services group.

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Bluehouse, which will be delivered as a set of hosted collaborative services, incorporates technology from the Lotus Connections social networking for business software, Lotus Quickr file and document sharing application and Lotus Sametime instant messaging system. The Bluehouse service is slated to be generally available in the first quarter of next year.

IBM will announce Lotus Sametime Unyte, a Web conferencing system based on the technology IBM acquired in August 2007 when it bought WebDialogs. The system, which IBM has enhanced with multi-language support and faster network performance, also facilitates the sharing of documents, presentations and applications. IBM plans to eventually integrate Lotus Notes and Lotus Sametime with the conferencing system.

IBM will also offer IBM Rational Policy Tester OnDemand for automating Web content scanning to identify privacy, quality and accessibility compliance problems; and IBM Rational AppScan OnDemand for scanning Web applications for security bugs.