IBM is continuing its investment in cloud computing with a new lab in Hong Kong, expanding the presence of its IBM China Development Laboratory (CDL), the company's largest with more than 5,000 developers on staff.
The laboratory builds on the e-mail technology of Outblaze Limited, a Hong Kong-based company whose messaging assets were acquired by IBM earlier this year and incorporated into the Lotus brand. The new lab claims to be the first of its kind in Hong Kong and shows both the importance of global development teams and IBM's focus on growth in emerging markets, a user segment that is theoretically more adaptable to different methods of application consumption and likely well-acquainted with browser-based applications.
Overall, the fourth quarter of 2009 has seen several interesting cloud-related announcements from IBM, including the LotusLive service that launched in October and already claims more than 18 million active users. Big Blue also launched the Cloud Academy program designed to help educators and students pursue cloud-computing initiatives and better take advantage of collaboration technology in their studies.
IBM has taken a leading role in the development and adoption of cloud services while other large vendors such as SAP, HP, Oracle, Sun and Microsoft have all made cloud-oriented announcements with few proof points that their efforts will be successful. There is no certainty that IBM will be successful either, but the company has at least made consistent progress in both technology and user adoption.
IBM representatives told me that the company will continue to focus on delivering "the most reliable and secure cloud services" architected to meet the needs of consumers as well as their mainstay enterprise buying audience. Totally logical, and still surprising that the other big vendors haven't figured out how to attract their core user base to cloud platforms and services.
The cloud remains a bit of an anomaly in the tech world, dominated by Amazon, an e-commerce site, while stalwart IT vendors like Microsoft continue to take baby steps toward mainstreaming their efforts.
My blogging colleague, James Urquhart, wrote this week about Microsoft's new business unit that merges its cloud and on-premise server group into one development team, which makes sense, at least in theory.
Practically speaking, Microsoft is way behind the curve and has a lot of ground to make. I've written in the past that the opportunity is theirs to lose, and it's hard to see how they plan to win, even with this new structure.