Updated from Monday, June 15
Cloud services, which offer compute power and storage via the Internet, are fast becoming one of the tech sector's hottest technologies, thanks in no small part to the IT spending slowdown. Companies like IBM and Microsoft (MSFT - Get Report) are pushing cloud services as a way for firms to avoid the upfront costs of hardware and software.
IBM launched its "Blue Cloud" strategy in 2007 and has already made its presence felt in high-performance computing, but is now looking to strengthen its enterprise story.The company's Smart Business Cloud, which it launched Tuesday, encompasses software testing and virtual desktops, where users access PC software from any location. IBM will offer to run cloud services from its own data centers, as well as building cloud infrastructure on customers' own sites. This could be, for example, a software firm that wants to host client applications behind its firewall. The Armonk, N.Y.-based firm is also offering a pre-configured cloud "appliance" complete with blade servers, storage and Tivoli provisioning software, which customers can configure themselves. "Writing and testing applications, when you roll out a big application, typically takes up 30 percent to 50 percent of your IT infrastructure," said Erich Clementi, general manager of enterprise initiatives at IBM. "The potential savings