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IBM Busts Billion-Dollar Move

NEW YORK -- IBM has unveiled a massive, three-year, services-based initiative valued at $1 billion that's meant to help users manage their critical business data. But the vendor will face major storage challenges as it rolls out the strategy over the coming months.

In an announcement here today, IBM unveiled a host of services for the likes of business analysis and compliance, as well as new versions of its WebSphere middleware for searching and integrating data. (See IBM Captures Growth.)

Speaking at a launch event at New York's Ritz Carlton Hotel, Ginni Rometty, senior vice president of IBMs consulting division, said IBM is pumping $1 billion into developing software specifically for managing data. The exec said IBM will devote 15,000 consultants to its services effort and hire around 10,000 more -- a clear indication of the vendor's aim to lure users into its services arm.

The strategy is no surprise. The services dime has become increasingly important for vendors as users tighten their purse strings for hardware and software. (See Software Slump Is Deal Time.)

But the news raises the question of how IBM plans to support the new services with storage. Rometty told Byte and Switch that the new services, which are tailored to individual customers’ needs (and priced accordingly), will be underpinned by IBM’s existing storage offerings. Users could, for instance, opt to have storage hosted by IBM itself (perhaps as a grid), or bought as a traditional suite of enterprise storage gear.

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