IBM opens

LONDON – IBM has opened a so-called “cloud computing centre” in Dublin aimed at businesses that want to rent applications from Big Blue or use it host their own software.

The Dublin facility is the first to be built in Europe, and will also serve the Middle East and Africa.

Some of the applications IBM is offering have features that are also seen on Web 2.0 sites, including Lotus Connections, IBM’s social software that lets employees create blogs and wikis, tag Web sites and make comments on other people’s ideas, said Willy Chiu, vice-president of high performance on-demand solutions for IBM’s Software Group.

When wrapped together, IBM’s software also lets companies test new services and applications with their customers. Other IBM products involved are its WebSphere integration and application infrastructure software and its Tivoli provisioning software, Chiu said. IBM will additionally offer experts who can advise companies on how to set up their own enterprise data centres.

Pricing information has not been released, Chiu said.

IBM launched a similar program last September called Innovation Factory in partnership with the Shanghai Research Institute of China Telecom Corporate (STTRI). The project focuses on developing communication services for the Chinese market. In that instance, IBM installed its software in STTRI’s data centre, Chiu said.

IBM has signed up Sogeti, an IT services division of Capgemini Group, to use the Dublin centre, Chiu said. “They wanted to pilot the Idea Factory to accelerate innovation,” Chiu said.

Next month, Sogeti will start a six-month trial of IBM’s collaboration technologies, said Michiel Boreel, Sogeti’s chief technology officer. The trial will start with a three-day session involving 18,000 employees in 14 countries. Employees will submit ideas to make the company’s IT services offerings better.

During the second phase, the best of those ideas will then be put into IBM’s collaboration software, Boreel said. The plan is to move away from tools such as e-mail, which is good for exchanging information, but “lousy” for collaboration, he said.

Wikis, a format where people can work on the same document at the same time, are much better, Boreel said. After six months, Sogeti will decide whether IBM’s hosted collaboration platform is worth using permanently, he said.

“I expect people are going to use these kinds of collaboration tools more intensively,” Boreel said, adding that Sogeti could eventually offer the same kind of service to its customers.

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