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IBM follows Microsoft, Amazon into China with new cloud doodad

NSA leaks 'not affecting Big Blue's plans in any way'

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IBM is launching a cloud service hosted in a Chinese data center as Big Blue tries to pursue what it reckons could be a huge market – despite NSA revelations causing paranoia among some non-US data services punters.

To do business in the Middle Kingdom, companies must partner with a Chinese firm, which may assuage concerns, though it does mean IBM's cloud will likely be probed by the US and Chinese governments – rock, hard place, etc.

The new service was announced on Wednesday, shortly after Amazon entered the country with a new Amazon Web Services data center region.

To spin-up the service, IBM is partnering with Chinese data center company 21Vianet, which also helps Microsoft run its Windows Azure services in China.

For those keeping track, neither Google or Rackspace have spun up data centers in the country. We reckon it's unlikely Google will barrel into China given its recent decision to cancel a planned Hong Kong data center and instead build new facilities in Singapore and Taiwan.

IBM partner 21Vianet operates in more than 40 cities throughout China, and provides various connections via its fiber-optic network into the Chinese internet backbone.

"We are going to locate or co-locate a data center within [21Vianet's] data center," explained IBM spokesperson Michael Azzi to El Reg. "Our equipment will go inside their data center. They will help to manage that for us with their existing personnel and skillset."

IBM will make its SmartCloud Enterprise+ tech available through the service, giving Chinese companies access to remote storage and compute based partially on IBM's recent acquisition of bare-metal hoster SoftLayer.

Though the tech allows for the remote provisioning of storage and compute resources, it lacks many of the more advanced technologies wielded by AWS.

But that didn't stop IBM marketers claiming that the arrival of some rentable IT gear in the country means China has "entered a new era in cloud computing".

It's hard to tell how fruitful a venture this may be for IBM given recent revelations by uber-leaker Edward Snowden about the close ties between American technology companies and the intelligence agency apparatus. Though IBM and Amazon have both – so far – not been explicitly named as being collaborators, many other technology and telecommunication firms have been identified, including Verizon, Microsoft, and Google.

When asked about whether these revelations were influencing IBM's approach, Azzi said: "It's certainly not affecting IBM's plans in any way - we've been an involved vendor with various clients in China for a long time." ®

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