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IBM gives in to China's demand for a new IT infrastructure

Posted: 21 May 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:IBM? IT infrastructure? supply chain? data centre? cloud?

IBM has announced that it will build a new supply chain of computers and software through partnerships with companies based in China. This move affords China more power as it only means that company executives have grudgingly accepted that the Chinese government is determined, and will eventually succeed, in a quest to replace foreign technology used in sensitive areas of the economy with Chinese made products.

IBM CEO Virginia Rometty reflected on changes to the Chinese technology market when she spoke at the China Development Forum in Beijing earlier this year. In an article published in China Daily, Rometty is quoted as saying: "If you're a country, as China is, of 1.3 billion people, you would want an IT industry as well. I think some firms find that perhaps frightening. We, though, at IBM ... find that to be a great opportunity."

IBM OK's China IT infrastructure deal

IBM decided to build a new supply chain of computers and software through partnerships with Chinese-based companies, which effectively gives China the edge in terms of technological negotiations.

Is this really a "great opportunity" for IBM? When IBM shares its technology with Chinese firms who then make products built, in part, on IBM technology, does this put IBM in a better business position compared to the days when the company wasn't required to partner with Chinese original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to put IBM equipment into Chinese customers?

Today, IBM is helping China build a new IT infrastructure spurred on by the Chinese government's implementation of tighter restrictions on foreign technology. These limitations, placed particularly in the banking sector, has caused companies such as IBM to rethink their supply chains as they find new ways to sell their products in China.

IBM's approach is to participate in a series of initiatives that promote relationships with Chinese companies that are aligned with IBM's focus on data, cloud, social, mobile and security.

For example, one of its initiatives is with Teamsun, a Beijing-based company, that IBM has teamed with to provide "a partial blueprint of its higher-end servers and the software that runs on them," a New York Times article reported.

Teamsun, an IT products and services company serving Greater China and Southeast Asia, offers various types of products such as server, storage, network, security, communications, software, backup and OEM services.

In Teamsun, IBM has found a Chinese partner with the technological capabilities that IBM can piggyback on as it creates new computer hardware and software running on IBM technology that it hopes will be approved for use by Chinese authorities in key industries.

IBM's effort to incorporate its technology into Chinese products comes at a time when the company is changing course, moving away from low-profit segments of its business such as cash registers, semiconductors and low-end servers in favour of high-value solutions such as security software and cloud services. This transition has been painful, a fact that is reflected, in part, by the company posting three years of declining revenues.

Making matters worse, IBM's is smarting from recently introduced measures to the bank-technology rules and a proposed counter-terrorism law that calls for the development of Chinese technology that come with "secure and controllable" features.

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