IBM unveiled Tuesday its cloud computing technology, which stores information and runs applications in shared computing facilities to users over the Internet, and announced the new head of the cloud computing division.

The new service will allow customers to automatically switch some of the work they are doing on PC's over to IBM's data centers at times when their storage or capability resources have been reached, creating what IBM called an overflow cloud for corporate IT.

Meanwhile, Erich Clementi, a former IBM hardware executive who was given the new title of general manager of enterprise initiatives last October, was named as the first head of a new Blue Cloud division, IBM's name for cloud computing.

In the last 18 months, IBM has built more than a dozen cloud centers around the world.

Sam Palmisano, IBM's chief executive officer and chairman, is set to demonstrate a test version of the overflow cloud at an event in Shanghai. Based on a partnership with network equipment maker Juniper Networks, the service would let corporate IT departments respond to surges in demand at their own data centers, or to internal technology failure, by shifting parts of their computing workloads to IBM.

As the cloud computing concept becomes more mainstream, IBM will compete against competitors like Hewlett-Packard, Sun, Cisco and Amazon who are targeting giant corporations that traditionally spend the most on information technology. Google is also increasingly pushing applications like word processing and spreadsheets that run in a browser and can be delivered as a service, rather than sold on a CD.

Last year, Microsoft announced its new cloud operating system, called Azure, that addresses the technical challenges of cloud computing. Microsoft has not revealed when its product will be commercially available.