Talk about cloud computing. IBM has entered a partnership with the Weather Company, corporate parent of the Weather Channel, to crunch meteorological data collected from smartphones, building sensors, drones and other elements of the so-called Internet of Things. The Weather Company has primarily relied on Big Blue rival Amazon Web Services but will now use IBM's SoftLayer cloud for its business data servce, the companies announced Tuesday.
The move is a big win for IBM, which, along with Google and Microsoft, is vying for a larger share of the cloud. IBM significantly bolstered its cloud footprint in 2013 with its $2 billion acquisition of SoftLayer. Goldman Sachs recently estimated that business spending on the cloud services will grow by 30 percent annually through 2018.
Over the next four years, IBM also plans to invest $3 billion in a new Internet of Things business division. That's a big deal for the Armonk, New York, computing giant as it seeks partnerships with more major companies hoping to use the cloud to cut cost and roll out new services more quickly.
IBM added Twitter to its list of cloud customers last year.
IBM will have another 20 terabytes of data to work with every day. The Weather Company vacuums up information captured by weather stations, satellites, radars and other devices, and provides the information that powers weather apps by Google, Microsoft and Apple, as well as others, according to the New York Times.
The Weather Company also sells its data to companies that have a particular interest in weather information. Wind strength, for example, might be especially useful to commercial airlines, or auto insurers might need to know about a possible freezing rain event. All that information will now go through IBM's Watson, the artificial intelligence machine that could help formulate more accurate forecasts.
“When you think about most business processes, businesses treat every day as the same day, weather-wise,” IBM Senior Vice President Bob Picciano told USA Today Tuesday. “Many businesses could derive these competitive advantages.”
Correction April 1: An earlier version of this story erroneously stated that the Weather Company is "moving away" from Amazon Web Services. Bryson Koehler, the Weather Company's CTO and CIO, clarified in a tweet that the Weather Company will continue to Amazon's cloud service. The change is now reflected in the article above.