IBM announced April 16 it is establishing a cloud computing laboratory in Hong Kong.
"The new facility will provide a global hub for Web-based messaging services to support IBM's emerging LotusLive cloud service portfolio, which offers affordable, company-to-company social networking and online collaboration tools," the company said in a news release.
IBM also announced April 16 that it has closed its acquisition of Outblaze's messaging assets. IBM said in a release, "Privately held Outblaze operates one of the largest online service platforms for the provision of secure, private-label e-mail, collaboration and social media services to other service providers, telecommunications operators, corporations, academia, media and publishing companies. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed."
IBM initially announced its intent to acquire Outblaze's e-mail service assets in January. According to the release:
"With more than 10 years of experience delivering messaging solutions, Outblaze was one of the first companies to offer a fully hosted, multilingual e-mail service. Today Outblaze offers services in 22 languages and has more than 40 million users under management. While Outblaze has customers and employees worldwide, it brings unique experience serving high-growth Asian markets including China, India and Singapore.LotusLive.com is designed to help businesses work smarter by forming virtual communities in the cloud, connecting colleagues, partners, suppliers and customers from within and beyond their own firewalls. The Outblaze asset purchase adds Web-based e-mail to IBM's expanding portfolio of online collaboration tools. Subscribers will be able to instantly provision e-mail accounts and users can access their e-mail from any computer through any Web browser."
"It all started about a year and a half ago with our acquisition of WebDialogs, which was our first entry into the world of software as a service or cloud computing," Brendan Crotty, program director for IBM Online Collaboration Services, told eWEEK. IBM acquired WebDialogs in August of 2007.
"After that we took a core set of services from the Lotus portfolio and delivered them as a set of services and put that into an open beta and released it at Lotusphere" in 2008, Crotty said. That beta, then known as "Bluehouse," is what later became LotusLive.
So, with the Outblaze deal, IBM gains a new Web mail product to offer through its LotusLive cloud-based social networking and collaboration platform. IBM also gains millions of new customers for LotusLive. In addition, IBM gets a new facility in Hong Kong for future cloud software development and hosting. And the deal will help lower the cost of LotusLive for end users.
These new software services will start at approximately $10 per user per month as IBM puts much of its software online via the cloud at affordable prices to win business and support smarter ways to work in the current economy.
LotusLive has several unique advantages over other online collaboration choices in the marketplace, Crotty said. It is designed to help companies work with each other on the Web, and has functions well beyond an employee communications solution. IBM-grade security, reliability and scalability distinguish it further over other hosted or cloud-based software services that grew up as expedient consumer applications, he said.
Crotty also said IBM's new lab will be located in Hong Kong's Cyberport complex, an IT center developed to foster innovation in the Asia-Pacific region. "It's located near emerging growth markets to take advantage of global opportunities for online Web tools," he said.
"We are happy to note that IBM, one of the world-renowned leaders in innovation and computing, is taking the lead in establishing a cloud computing laboratory in Hong Kong," said Hong Kong Government CIO Jeremy Godfrey. "The new IBM laboratory marks a milestone in Hong Kong's information technology industry as it has the potential to help businesses jump-start their cloud computing projects and enhance their computing capabilities to compete in the global marketplace."
Moreover, Crotty said IBM intends to increase its investment in its new cloud lab to "take advantage of the global opportunity for online Web 2.0 collaboration. The new facility brings the number of IBM's worldwide Cloud Labs to 10. IBM Cloud Labs provide a range of services including development of online services that take advantage of the promised economies of scale offered by cloud computing."
"IBM is focused on helping businesses, large and small, work smarter to drive innovation up and costs down and this new cloud lab will reinforce that," Bob Picciano, general manager of IBM Lotus Software, said in the release. "LotusLive.com will soon include the most secure, scalable, business-ready Web mail in the industry as part of a full-service collaboration suite to help simplify and improve the way organizations work with their customers and partners."