Lenovo Acquisition Lays Bare Cloud Ambitions

Michael Vizard

Among all the major vendors, Lenovo has been the most discreet concerning its cloud computing ambitions. But with the acquisition this week of Stoneware, a provider of a unified desktop environment called webNetwork, Lenovo is signaling that it not only intends to be a provider of cloud services, but it also has a vision for unifying mobile and cloud computing.

On a certain level, mobile and cloud computing are two ends of the same spectrum. Stoneware allows Lenovo to offer IT organizations a unified desktop metaphor that essentially masks where a file is at any given time, regardless of whether it’s stored locally or in the cloud.

According to Mark Cohen, distinguished engineer and vice president for Lenovo, the company will significantly expand its presence in the cloud in 2013 by either building its own data center or delivering services that are hosted by third-party partners. In either instance, Cohen says that goal is to make the cloud a natural extension of the device being used, regardless of whether it’s a Lenovo smartphone, tablet or PC.

Stoneware also serves to mask the complexity of having end users accessing those cloud services using different platforms. Cohen says that webNetwork automatically adjusts the computing experience to reflect issues such as the size of the device and the latency of the network connection. All of that is accomplished using a single user ID regardless of the number of devices involved, added Cohen.

Lenovo, perhaps from a mobile computing first perspective, is heading in much the same direction as Dell, Hewlett-Packard and IBM when it comes to cloud computing. The one significant difference at this juncture, however, is that Lenovo seems to be starting with the user experience first and the actual IT infrastructure required second.



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