IBM to cross swords with Salesforce and Google

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IBM to cross swords with Salesforce and Google

IBM is preparing to launch an online marketplace for hosted applications for small and medium sized businesses to rival Google Apps and's AppExchange.

Big Blue unveiled its plans at an analyst meeting for its System and Technology Group on 3 October.

Frank Gens, a senior vice president of research at analyst firm IDC, reported about the event on a company blog. The posting was published on Wednesday afternoon, but was pulled later that day.

Over the course of two days, Gens and IDC did not respond to multiple phone calls and emails requesting clarification.

A spokesperson for IBM declined to comment because the meeting discussed forward looking statements.

According to Gens's posting, the service will launch in the coming months and will initially host offerings from 338 application service providers.

"To me, it borrows heavily from the online software and services ecosystem model, but it also comes at a time when Google is spreading its wings as a platform, most obviously for small to medium sized firms," he wrote.

In addition to a marketplace for third-party applications, IBM will also offer a platform that hosts and integrates applications from service providers.

This allows users to share data across multiple services. As the owner and gatekeeper to the platform, IBM will offer optional back-up and recovery services.

Software as a service is currently a blind spot in IBM's service offerings, according to Gens, but the company is being forced to respond to this growing market trend.

In addition to Google and

Amazon and Sun Microsystems are renting out servers over the internet with the EC2 and Grid offerings respectively.

Gens expects IBM to position the hosted service platform as an addition to its on-premises systems.

"Like SAP and others, IBM envisions that many customers will implement a hybrid model that includes on-premise and online," he said.
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