IBM adds to cloud and mid-market offerings

IBM (NYSE: IBM) has joined the companies jostling for position in the cloud computing space. The company has announced a variety of offerings that it claimed would allow users to better manage data and make collaboration easier.

The company has opened up the beta for Bluehouse, the company’s so-called Facebook for the enterprise. The software has been available in closed beta for the past nine months but is now being made available to anyone. The company said that Bluehouse would combine social networking and online collaboration tools to help organizations to share documents, contacts, engage in joint project activities, host online meetings and build social networking communities through a Web browser.

The company has also bundled Sametime Unyte an existing product as part of the new cloud initiative. Sametime Unyte is web-enabled collaboration tool that allows the sharing of documents, presentations or applications, via a web browser. There are several new enhancements to the product including a “waiting room” for meeting participants to gather and specialized alerts and prompts for meeting hosts. The company has said that Sametime Unyte will be bundled with Lotus Notes and Lotus Sametime to allow people working in email or instant messaging to join Web conferences, with a single click of a button.

Other products to be released include Rational Policy Tester OnDemand that the company said would reduce online risks by automating Web content to help with compliance.

These IBM products are to strengthen its mid-market security offering.

Rational AppScan OnDemand will scan web applications for security bugs and Telelogic Focal Point centralizes product information shared by product management, engineering and marketing teams.

The company said that the moves were in line with user demand. “We are moving our clients, the industry and even IBM itself to have a mixture of data and applications that live in the data center and in the cloud,” said Willy Chiu, vice president, high performance on demand solutions, IBM. “IBM’s cloud computing strategy was inspired by feedback from the business world’s broadest IT customer base indicating a growing desire to utilize data, applications and services from any device and from any location based on open standards.”

According to Forrester Research, regulatory compliance is a priority for 67 per cent of small and mid-size businesses although most admit they are not yet fully compliant.

In addition, IBM’s latest ISS threat report saw 54 per cent of all vulnerabilities disclosed in the first half of 2008 were Web-based.

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