Updated from Monday, June 15IBM ( IBM) is adding more flesh to the bones of its cloud computing strategy, launching a slew of new offerings Tuesday. 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) 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
Clementi estimates that by 2012, enterprises will spend $66 billion on cloud services, something that other tech and telecom firms are also keen to tap into. AT&T ( T), for example, recently teamed up with EMC ( EMC) to offer a Web-based storage service, underlining the growing momentum behind the technology. "The industry goes through waves of innovation every 15 years," says Clementi. "We had the mainframe era, then the PC era, then the Internet era -- this is the next wave." Other companies ramping up their cloud efforts include Qualcomm ( QCOM) and Sun Microsystems ( JAVA), soon to become part of Oracle ( ORCL). Microsoft also offers a cloud-based version of Windows. Launched in 2006, Amazon's ( AMZN) S3 offering is probably the best known cloud storage service, and stores more than 52 billion pieces of information. Despite the growing momentum behind cloud computing, however, IBM's recent attempt to push for standards sparked a war of words with Microsoft, which accused IBM of driving its own agenda. Shares of IBM fell 59 cents, or 0.55%, to $107.62, during trading Monday, as the Nasdaq closed down 2.28%.