As it focuses on the cloud now more than ever, IBM today announced that its inventors have received more than 400 new cloud patents in 2015.
Over the past 18 months, the company has secured nearly 1,200 cloud patents, IBM officials claimed. The new IBM cloud patents cover a wide range of areas in the cloud computing space and help improve the speed of deployment and security of cloud data centers. In addition, these patents are designed to ease the management of cloud applications, storage and maintenance.
"IBM's patented inventions represent innovations that enable new discoveries, promote progress, and deliver benefits to society," said Dr. John Kelly, senior vice president of solutions portfolio and research at IBM, in a statement about IBM's patent prowess. "We take the responsibility of patent leadership seriously because it is an important barometer of our commitment to fundamental R&D and it enables IBMers to consistently pioneer new technologies that solve problems for our customers."
Examples of IBM's cloud patents include U.S. Patent #9,015,164: High availability for cloud server. A key attribute of a cloud computing environment is high availability. This invention enables a cloud environment to take snapshots of virtual machines that can then be used for recovery purposes.
Creating and storing large amounts of data on mobile devices can create data management challenges for users. Thus, IBM created U.S. Patent 8,996,647: Optimizing storage between mobile devices and cloud storage providers, which automatically determines the amount of data transfer available in a device's billing plan, data bandwidth and battery power level; analyzes these factors; and optimizes the transfer of data from the device, thus relieving users from having to proactively transfer data from their mobile devices to cloud storage.
Also, when an app is set up to run in the cloud, appropriately handling sensitive data is an important requirement. IBM's U.S. Patent 8,984,132: System and method for supporting secure application deployment in a cloud determines which components of a software application will handle sensitive data and ensures those components are executed on secure servers. Other components of the application may be run on publicly available cloud servers. Transfer of data and computation results are sent between secure servers and publicly available servers using a secure connection.
A primary advantage of cloud computing is the ability to allocate computing resources anywhere in the world. IBM's invention covered in U.S. Patent 9,021,245: Applying settings in a cloud computing environment based on geographical region determines a locality according to the network address of the user and applies local settings, thereby customizing cloud computing resources for ease-of-use. Also, these resources are stored on a server that is local to the consumer to provide enhanced access response times.
Meanwhile, IBM's U.S. Patent 8,949,414: Activity-based virtual machine availability in a networked computing environment conserves network bandwidth by temporarily shutting down network activity on a cloud resource, such as a virtual machine (VM), when the VM is running but not being used for a period of time. This can help clear network traffic congestion and reduce costs by eliminating unnecessary network resource usage.
Moreover, in cloud computing environments, physical and virtual environments must be managed and deployed across multiple heterogeneous hardware platforms, which can cause substantial complexity, IBM said. The company's invention covered in U.S. Patent 8,934,134: Unified cloud computing infrastructure to manage and deploy physical and virtual environments provides a means to use a single unit that contains the hardware and software components to build a cloud computing environment.
Cloud-based storage services enable organizations to increase data accessibility among geographically separated groups, but that can come at the risk of data being compromised, IBM said. The company's U.S. Patent 8,990,950: Enabling granular discretionary access control for data stored in a cloud computing environment provides for discretionary data access control to allow the owner of the data to exert greater control.
In addition to relying on the innovation of its researchers, as part of IBM's objective to continue to gain traction in cloud, the company has forged strategic partnerships with Box and Apple, among others, that leverage IBM cloud services in the last 12 months.
IBM has long looked at its research arm as something of a secret weapon aimed at its competition—although it's a bit difficult to view something that the company spends more than $6 billion annually on as a secret. For 22 consecutive years, IBM has topped the list of U.S. patent recipients.
IBM announced that it received a record 7,534 patents in 2014. Its inventors earned an average of more than 20 patents per day in 2014, propelling the company to become the first to surpass more than 7,000 patents in a single year.
The company's record-setting 2014 patent output was led by more than 3,000 patents—40 percent of its total for the year—covering a range of cloud computing, analytics, mobile, social and security inventions. Over the past five years, IBM has more than doubled its annual output of patents within these strategic growth areas.
IBM inventors also received more than 500 patents for inventions that will usher in the era of cognitive systems, including new Watson-related cognitive technologies.