[kictanet] Niche Markets
luvisia.bakuli at gmail.com
Mon Jun 15 14:45:19 EAT 2009
For those looking for niche areas, the following article might generate
some ideas. DBL
June 15, 2009
I.B.M. to Help Clients Fight Cost and Complexity
By STEVE LOHR
In 2000, the Linux operating system was a hot technology, but it had not
spread much beyond scientists, researchers and computer programmers.
Then I.B.M. declared that it would back Linux with investment, research
and marketing, and the technology moved swiftly into the corporate
The same thing happened with the personal computer in the early 1980s,
when I.B.M. endorsed that upstart technology and entered the market.
Starting this week, I.B.M. is returning to the same playbook,
introducing some initial products and services and a roadmap for its
stable of corporate and government customers to comfortably embrace
Cloud computing — in which vast stores of information and processing
resources can be tapped from afar, over the Internet, using a personal
computer, cellphone or other device — holds great promise in the
corporate market. The cloud model, analysts say, has the potential to
cut the costs, complexity and headaches of technology for companies and
Already, Amazon.com, Google and Salesforce.com, among others, offer
cloud-based Web services to companies, including e-mail, computer
storage and customer management software. But many big companies and
government agencies have been reluctant to get on board because of
traditional corporate-computing concerns like the security of data,
reliability of service and regulatory compliance.
“I.B.M. knows how to do all of those things,” said Frank Gens, chief
analyst for IDC, a technology research firm. “Its strategy is all about
making cloud computing safe for enterprise customers.”
Even if I.B.M. succeeds in its bid to make cloud computing more
palatable for big corporations, there is no guarantee that it will be
the main beneficiary of the trend. After I.B.M. helped create the PC
industry, lower-cost competitors ended up dominating the business.
In the cloud market, I.B.M. plans to take a tailored approach. The
hardware and software in its cloud offerings will be meant for specific
computing chores. Just as Google runs a computing cloud optimized for
Internet search, I.B.M. will make bespoke clouds for computing workloads
Its early cloud entries, to be announced on Monday, follow that model.
One set of offerings is focused on streamlining the technology used by
corporate software developers and testers, which can consume 30 percent
or more of a company’s technology resources.
The second set is virtual desktop services, in which personal computer
software, either from Microsoft or open-source alternatives, is run on
remote servers and piped to simple desktop machines equipped with
screens and keyboards. I.B.M. found in tests with clients that such
virtual PCs, with little desktop processing or storage, can use 70
percent less power than conventional PCs and reduce technical support
costs by up to 40 percent,.
Both the software development and desktop services are being offered as
an integrated bundle of hardware and software for a cloud running inside
a corporate or government data center, or as a cloud service hosted in
an I.B.M. data center.
Other offerings are planned, I.B.M. executives said, including clouds
fine-tuned for data storage, and clouds for business analytics, which is
software that analyzes data for patterns of customer behavior, market
trends and other potentially valuable information.
I.B.M. calls its approach of fine-tuning hardware and software for
specific jobs “hybrid computing.” And it will open a Hybrid Computing
Research lab later this year, inviting industry and university
scientists to work cooperatively on new application-specific designs
intended to improve performance by 100 to 1,000 times compared with
The fresh look at computer design is being prompted by the surge in
Internet data, from social networking to smartphone applications to
sensors monitoring food shipments and electrical use. By 2011, IDC
estimates, there will be one trillion Internet-connected devices, up
from 500 million in 2006.
“This huge explosion of data is driving a movement to design systems
around workloads because it is the only way to deliver the computation
needed, and it’s far more energy-efficient,” said Kunle Olukotun, a
computer scientist at Stanford.
I.B.M. had an initiative, begun in early 2008, called Blue Cloud, which
mainly involved adapting its server computers for cloud technology. Most
major technology suppliers have cloud-related hardware and software
products, including Cisco, Hewlett-Packard, Sun Microsystems and Dell.
But I.B.M., analysts say, is going further by offering simplified,
integrated stacks of hardware and software, as well as cloud services.
I.B.M.’s cloud strategy, the company said, is the culmination of 100
prototype projects with companies and government agencies over the last
year, and its research partnership with Google.
“The information technology infrastructure is under stress already, and
the data flood is just accelerating,” said Samuel J. Palmisano, I.B.M.’s
chief executive. “We’ve decided that how you solve that starts by
organizing technology around the workload.”
One of I.B.M.’s test beds for cloud computing has been the Interior
Department’s National Business Center, a service center that handles
payroll, human relations, financial reporting, contracting services and
other computing tasks for dozens of federal agencies. The center runs
two large data centers, one in Northern Virginia and another outside
Douglas J. Bourgeois, the center’s director, said he is introducing
several cloud-style applications over the next nine months including
Web-based training, and staffing and recruitment software. And in tests
with financial and procurement software, the cloud-computing environment
has delivered efficiencies of 40 to 60 percent in productivity and power
consumption, he said.
“For us, like other data centers, the volume of data continues to
explode,” Mr. Bourgeois said. “We want to solve some of those problems
with cloud computing, so we don’t have to build another $20 million data
Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company
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