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Even IBM Can't Win the Cloud Alone

Gartner Group estimates the public cloud market for 2013 at $131 billion, and, combined with the private clouds, hybrid clouds, and cloud applications emerging from all this, we're talking about a multitrillion-dollar opportunity.

This was not a big story in the wider world, or even among investors, who seem much more interested in the fate of J.C. Penney's (JCP) Rob Johnson or Pershing Capital's Bill Ackman than in some technology announcement. People like to read about people. Technology is boring by comparison.

But for someone who has covered computing his whole working life, and studied the history of computing from its beginnings, this is a very big deal.

IBM built the very first computer monopoly with its mainframe business and played the "great game" of control over base technology for half my life, until a "kid with a clue" named Bill Gates outmaneuvered it. The company has now spent two decades rebuilding itself as a force in services, in support, in the behind-the-scenes grunt work that turns computing into business value, and cloud was its chance to get back into the game, to take control.

That IBM chose cooperation, and assured that interoperability at least will remain the norm as cloud technology moves forward, is an historic turning point. Bullish for IBM, yes. But bullish for many others as well.

At the time of publication, the author was long IBM, RHT and GOOG.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

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