IBM Acquisition of Lombardi Influenced by Cloud Strategy

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IBM Acquisition of Lombardi Influenced by Cloud Strategy
By Erik Sherman | Dec 17, 2009

These days, it seems that almost every tech company is focused on “cloud computing,” as most busily try to recast what they do into a cloud context. But in some cases, companies really seem to get it, and IBM (IBM) is one of them. Except given its long expertise in enterprise computing, IBM really gets it, and much of what it’s doing these days seems designed to strategically dominate cloud computing as a new approach to its traditional markets. The most recent example is its acquisition of business process management vendor Lombardi.

The key is not the size of the market, which market research firm IDC estimates at hitting $3 billion within a few years. It’s also not really the list of clients that Lombardi has, although it is impressive:

According to Lombardi CEO Rod Favaron, the company has about 300 enterprise-level customers with a high percentage shared with IBM. Lombardi has a shockingly impressive customer list, including Allianz Group, Aflac, Barlays Global Investors, Dell, FETAC, Ford Motor, Hasbro, ING Direct, Intel, Maritz Travel, National, Bank of Canada, National Institute of Health, Safety-Kleen, T-Mobile, UCLH, and several governmental agencies.

I’d be surprised if IBM didn’t already have most if not all of these as customers in one form or another. No, the real issue is that this puts IBM even more thoroughly in the business processes of large companies, and that’s the area where it expects the cloud to be huge. That’s why it announced its business analytics private cloud. I think that IBM sees business processes as the most likely candidates for real cloud computing, and it’s working to be there with a full suite of offerings before anyone else. And that leaves you wondering, as it’s massive financial muscle lets it continue its string of 90 acquisitions since 2003, who else will be able to get close and provide not just commodity cloud computing, but a cloud operational suite that offers enough value to entice large corporations and get them to pony up a lot of money. Microsoft (MSFT), HP (HPQ), Rackspace (RAX), and others clearly have their work cut out for them.

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