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Qwest, IBM Announce Strategic Relationship

IBM Corp and Qwest Communications yesterday announced a long-term alliance in which IBM will build 28 new Internet data centers over the next three years.

The two companies estimate that the initiative will produce a combined revenue stream of $5 billion over a projected seven-year time period.

In addition to building the new Qwest facilities, IBM Global Services will provide operational support. It is to act as the anchor tenant of the 100,000+ sq ft units, populating as much as a quarter of the available space with hosted systems that will serve its own customer base.

Qwest, in turn, will provide high-performance broadband Internet connectivity to link the network of data centers -- dubbed "CyberCenters" -- as well as other existing IBM facilities.

The new relationship will give Qwest a total of 42 data centres in the USA and Canada; 14 are expected to be operational by the end of this year.

The two companies claimed yesterday that the announced alliance would offer "the widest spectrum of e-business services ever to be offered under one roof," ranging from colocation, through complex Web hosting, to ASP infrastructure hosting. Linking into the Qwest network will enable the partners to offer end-to-end service level agreements, they added.

Qwest's alliance with the world's biggest IT services business will bolster competitive advantage for its ASP division, Qwest Cyber.Solutions (QCS), said Lew Wilks, Qwest's president of Internet and Multimedia Markets, in the press briefing yesterday. "We will have our customers online more quickly with higher levels of service-level guarantees," he asserted.

In addition to advancing Qwest's Web and application-hosting presence, the IBM alliance appears to cast a shadow on the company's long-standing relationship with IBM rival Hewlett-Packard. Last week, HP aligned with Microsoft to announce a new bundled offering for service providers. Wilks denied this, telling ASP-News that Qwest's relationship with HP was predominantly focussed on server and storage capabilities in the marketplace." The agreement with IBM is platform neutral and includes support for HP, Sun and other vendors' equipment in Qwest's data centres, he explained.



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