But Rometty seems to be reacting to events rather than anticipating them. She rose to the top of the company through the inside, which in normal times makes sense for a company like IBM. But these are not normal times.

Anyone arguing for new leadership at IBM, however, needs to offer a new vision that makes more sense than what IBM is already doing, and what Rometty was pushing for before becoming CEO. Such visions are in short supply, as the Microsoft board knows all too well.

The savings that come from cloud computing go overwhelmingly to buyers of technology. They can now rent huge amounts of capacity at very low costs, in a highly competitive market that is forgoing profits for growth.

IBM has high hopes for its Watson computer. But as even IBM has written, it's really just a fancy front on a cloud running Apache Hadoop -- something you can build in a basement. 

IBM's best hope for growth is to become a dominant provider of Software as a Service (SaaS) using its own cloud. But the leader in that business, Salesforce.com (CRM), is not profitable and had its first $1 billion quarter just last fall.

Even Amazon was estimated to have cloud revenue for 2013 of $3.8 billion, though some analysts were even skeptical of that figure. 

IBM is not a player in devices, the other high-growth area of computing. In the near term, it's hard to see the gap between what IBM needs and what cloud delivers doing anything but growing.


At the time of publication, the author owned shares of GOOG. 

This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff.

 

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