International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM), the No. 2 computer services provider, announced a new campaign called "PureSystems" to sell computers and software for cloud computing.
The goal is to sell new servers, software and middleware to businesses that is open-source, or completely compatible with industry-standard products from many vendors to reduce computing costs. Cloud computing is a way to store information and access software programs from far-away data farms.
"We looked at the marketplace and determined this was the most cost-efficient way to go forward," said Ed Abrams, IBM VP for midmarket business and global business partners.
About 600 global customers of the computer services company in Armonk, N.Y., have endorsed the idea. The first products, starting at about $160,000, will be available in May, Abrams said.
IBM derives most of its revenue from services and divides up its customer base into industry verticals for various sectors, such as manufacturing, financial and electronics.
To allow enterprises to lower costs of service, IBM will manage their complete data centers. But it also wants to sell them the appropriate servers and software, Abrams said, to make system "more a tool of the business."
As well, IBM will integrate the services it's bought through acquiring dozens of companies since 2005, including Cognos for data analytics, FileNet for content management and Algorithmics for data intelligence, into more than 150 general and industry specific applications.
Abrams said enterprises that used to run the applications under their pre-IBM names continue to do so, but now get the benefit of all the services.
Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ), the No. 1 computer maker, hasn't yet announced a competing program. Database software developer Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL), which now sells servers and storage products acquired through its 2010 purchase of Sun Microsystems, signaled a similar campaign in the fourth quarter of 2011.
Abrams declined to say how much revenue IBM anticipates from PureSystems. Nor would he say how much had been spent. Last year, IBM spent $6.26 billion on research and development.
The PurePlay campaign also is intended to enable IBM to compete with other companies that sell computer services for the cloud off their own data centers, including Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) and Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT).
Abrams said the new products will be integrated with IBM's SmartCloud service.
Shares of IBM rose 25 cents to $202.58 in Wednesday trading. They've gained 10 percent in 2012.