IBM: "Big Blue" looks at little green guys and sees big future

So there were some IBM guys at the GoingGreen conference. Did their best to look like the other folks, except for those neckties.
Written by Harry Fuller, Contributor

So there were some IBM guys at the GoingGreen conference. Did their best to look like the other folks, except for those neckties. And I was curious what this enormous tech company was doing there. They were welcomed, and usually cornered by some V.C. or start-up hopeful. But there was nobody from Microsoft, Oracle, Intel, Cisco, or other typical tech firms.

Turns out IBM had a real plan. I talked with Dr. Peter Williams, CTO of "Big Green Innovations" at IBM. Also with Andrew Clark, Director of Strategy, IBM'S Venture Capital Group.

Here's a little background. Williams heads an internal start-up, a new IBM unit focused on providing services and finding clients in areas that involve the growing green tech sector and green tech interests of oldline firms. Clark is part of the IBM group that figures out where IBM will put its venture investments and how that money gets targeted. IBM does NOT put direct investment into specific green tech start-ups. They put their money into funds managed by the V.C. pros, and there was no shortage of VC folks at GoingGreen.

Williams laid out for me the IBM assets and experience that made them move into offering green tech related services. Long experience in the management of utilies, their energy and resources. Global management of large corporate data centers. Experience with modelling for utilities, weather patterns and other mega-data bases. Business relationship with many of the world's biggest corproations who are going to have some of the biggest management questions about carbon fooftprint, energy use and other green-related issues.

As Clark and William emphasized, they will partner with some small green tech start-ups. IBM does not do apps, but they do modelling, data center management and integration of complex hardware and software systems. They are looking at relationships with green tech firms from specific utilitty management apps to environmental sensors. IBM sees their role being to proivde the overall datacenter expertise and systems to allow corporate execs or governments to not only get the data on temperatures, carbon emissions, water flow or whatever their sensors pick up...but then be able to analyze and make decisions.

The world's major water systems have endless moving parts and particles. With enough sensors, instant data access and good analytical tools, a centralized management can make real-time and critical decisions. Same goes for electricity grids, wind power, solar energy and on and on. That's why Big Blue is adding green to their corporate palette. It was back in May that IBM announced a billion dollars would go into their "big green" initiative.

IBM's caption for the picture above: "IBM Project Big Green--IBM is committing $1 billion annually to transform the world’s business and public technology infrastructures into "green" data centers, through new IBM energy efficient products and services. IBM operates eight million square feet of data center space on six continents, in which the company expects to save more than five billion kilowatt hours per year."

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