But does the strategy make sense?
A version of this article originally appeared on our US site, Fool.com.
Everyone wants to rule the cloud computing roost. Even Apple, which yesterday announced iCloud enhancements for pushing movies to the new Apple TV, wants in.
But IBM (NYSE: IBM.US) is hoping it can change the game with a new device for streaming the contents of an entire PC -- software and all -- over the web. Called the "Secure Enterprise Desktop", a USB key provides instructions for accessing an entire system from the cloud. No local software required.
Big Blue says the idea derives from Swiss banking software called Zone Trusted Information Channel (ZTIC). Financiers use ZTIC to secure sensitive electronic banking transactions. In comparison, Secure Enterprise Desktop tunnels a direct connection to a faraway server while entirely bypassing the PC or Linux computer into which it's been inserted.
The device then invokes a virtual machine known as a hypervisor to get work done. Thus, the local machine becomes a host -- like a dumb terminal accepting changes from a mainframe. Changes that look like they're occurring on the desktop are instead synchronised on the cloud.
Interestingly, Big Blue isn't the only company that sees the potential in bringing entire desktops to the cloud. A startup called Numecent has invented a process it calls "cloud paging" that cuts applications that live in the cloud into tiny, secure, digestible bits and then delivers them -- and the chip-level instructions for running them -- over the internet. It's an astounding breakthrough if it's real (I've yet to see it, but those who have rave about Numecent's technology).
I've no reason to believe it's anything but coincidence that IBM and Numecent are talking up desktop-as-a-service cloud computing at the same time. Yet the timing is also too interesting to ignore. At the least, it suggests cloud computing isn't just a new paradigm; it's a permanent paradigm -- a shift best marked by accelerating revenue growth at cloud computing poster stock salesforce.com (NYSE: CRM.US), realised after spending years and millions convincing us that business computing could be done online.
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