IBM Joins the Cloud

Continuing with the Blue Cloud initiative announced last Fall, IBM has wasted no time in its efforts to create a worldwide cloud computing network. Within the last six months plans for data centers have been set into motion in Ireland, China, and South Africa, and today IBM has announced a blueprint for North Carolina and the grand opening of a cluster in Tokyo. The North Carolina project will cost IBM around $360 million, and precedes another $100 million that will be invested in cloud computing over the next three years.

When completed, the data centers will be used by enterprises, universities, and government agencies not only to enhance data processing, but to balance escalating energy costs. The new systems are said to be 50% more efficient than the industry average, vastly reducing energy consumption and sparing the environment nearly 32,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year. Environmental benefits are emphasized in the press release, and it is interesting to see how IBM has turned Sun’s low power computing story to its own advantage with the cloud.

It comes as no surprise that IBM has jumped into this industry. The potential is enormous and the technology is still in its nascent stages. Most of the hype as of yet has been about the cloud’s impact within the enterprise, but few have discussed other applications of the technology. Medical research, for instance, and fields where data analysis is the bottleneck of large scale research could see tremendous benefit.

For these reasons the space is becoming increasingly competitive. Amazon is currently the forerunner in the industry, but Yahoo/Intel/HP and IBM are clearly looking to contest for ground in the emerging market.