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IBM's New Cloud Formation

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The big news this week is the release of IBM's new web based application platform, "Bluehouse." Bluehouse brings some of the communication applications offered by its Lotus software, along with virtual collaboration and social networking tools to a web-access only environment -- no software installation or internal infrastructure needed.

A company press released described the new offering as follows: "Bluehouse combines social networking and online collaboration tools to help businesses of all sizes to securely work together through firewalls and beyond organizational boundaries. This suite of hosted online technologies allows individuals to share documents, contacts, engage in joint project activities, host online meetings and build social networking communities via the cloud through a Web browser."

IBM is betting that such an offering will appeal to users who need to collaborate across enterprises, along with small and medium sized business -- companies with limited or no IT departments to support their own internal communication networks and services. The release brought an avalanche of responses from across the web on the possible future of web platforms designed specifically with the business user in mind. Speculation was ripe about the programs potential for success, in its ability to attract both users and dollars.

Bluehouse will have to compete with similar offerings already on the market from Google, Amazon and Cisco. One advantage the company may enjoy is a built in familiarity with many corporate users, who are accustomed to the company's popular software and server products. As of now the beta is free to try on IBM's website.

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