It is an interesting strategy. IBM could have started it's own Cloud Hosting facilities in competition with Amazon, GoGrid, and the rest. It would have been easy since they already have the data centers. Instead, they are partnering with the owners of the pipes. In the meantime, they will them a lot of disk, CPU, routers, and services to figure it out.
Cloud technology is not simple. There are only a few leading edge cloud providers and they are improving rapidly. Telephone companies like AT&T are not innovative. There is no way that they would have been able to develop their own cloud operating systems. They will have to buy the systems then pay somebody to show them how to turn them on.
IBM is essentially going up against the cloud operating system vendors like Eucalytus, Enomaly, Joyent, etc. None of the them can provide a customized high performance HW stack like IBM can.
This is essentially why HP went all out to buy 3Par. They wanted to be able to provide a turn-key data center for cloud companies. They will probably buy a Cloud Operating system company soon.
It is very expensive in R&D and scale to assemble a turnkey system. There will not be a large number of these companies. Startups have a hard time dealing with the sales cycle of selling to multi-billion dollar companies that are risk adverse.
It looks like IBM has a good first mover advantage. It will take awhile for the communications companies to buy so there is still time for HP, Cisco, etc to make some moves.
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