SmartCloud is IBM’s self-proclaimed vision for cloud computing. It includes everything from managed Cloud backup services to PaaS and IaaS, and the architecture for private and hybrid Clouds for enabling application development and deployment.
IBM CFO Mark Loughridge says “cloud services will provide a $7 billion revenue stream for IBM by 2015”. Instead of trying to lock in customers like Microsoft is doing with Windows Azure, IBM is betting on providing extreme customization to individual customers.
They will help customers build on-premise private clouds and integrate a customer’s data center with a Cloud provider. In providing these implementation services, IBM will not be forcing customers to jump on to IBM SmartCloud IaaS or PaaS. If customers want to get on SmartCloud, well and good. However, IBM will not deny implementation tied to a competitor’s public cloud, like Amazon EC2 or Rackspace.
That seems to be rather generous of IBM, but it just might work because I figure this is the kind of “do no evil” spirit that IT industry appreciates and rewards. What really appears to be IBM’s ace in the cloud is their SaaS business solution. To be even more specific, IBM’s cloud computing success may depend to a large extent on the IBM SmartCloud for Social Business.
Do not let the fancy name confuse you. It is simply IBM’s answer to what Google and Microsoft are already doing by offering Cloud based email, productivity and collaboration tools for organizations that are currently doing these tasks on-premise.
What it comes down to is, whether IBM can bring the Lotus brand back out of hibernation and position LotusLive integration with SmartCloud to compete against Google Docs, Google Apps and Microsoft Office 365?
A backgrounder on the Lotus Corporation might help you understand why I think this is so important. It was perhaps the best software on the market at the time, but Microsoft essentially demolished Lotus in two simple steps. Lotus 1-2-3 was knocked out when Excel was added to the Microsoft Office Suite, and Lotus Notes got booted when Microsoft added the Outlook client to the Exchange platform. Lotus gave up and ended up as an IBM brand which has been in deep-sleep for almost a decade.
After a brief awakening with on-premise Lotus Foundations, IBM has now put the power of Lotus to work on SmartCloud. LotusLive will go head to head with Google Docs and sector specific cloud offerings like the Google Apps for Government (GAFG).
The collaboration capabilities in LotusLive are stunning. The beta version of IBM Docs, which is a part of LotusLive, can assign different security levels for different sections within each document. So, you could assign each section to a different user as per their user security level, and only they would be able to access and edit it – nothing short of fantastic. IBM plans to release the full version later this year. I am waiting.
The potential market is huge, and it is just starting to move towards the Cloud. Google has already cornered a host of cities including Orlando and Los Angeles to GAFG, and even a couple of states. Imagine the city of Los Angeles paying Google per user fees for 17,000 users, or Utah paying for 22,000 state employees and Wyoming for 10,000.
The revenue potential across the US and the world is staggering. This is the Cloud market that the big boys are fighting for, and why IBM is slowly but steadily positioning LotusLive as its poster-boy on SmartCloud for social business.
Author: Cloud Consultant at CIONNE.com.
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