IBM opens CT innovation centre

Cape Town, 18 Sep 2009

IBM has opened an Africa Innovation Centre, in Cape Town, to foster the development of IT and business skills, and to expand its customer, business partner and academic community in the Western Cape.

The centre will help local businesses develop and deploy new technologies that support key digital infrastructure opportunities in government, banking, insurance, retail, and travel and transportation industries.

This is the second such centre opened by IBM in SA, with the first in Johannesburg having been in operation for just on a year.

It will provide local customers, business partners, start-up companies, software developers, independent software vendors (ISVs) and the academic community with access to training workshops, consulting services, a broad technical infrastructure and hands-on assistance to help solve business challenges and bring new technologies to market, says Clifford Foster, IBM's CTO for sub-Saharan Africa.

“The centre supports IBM's efforts to help grow the burgeoning local IT ecosystem and is part of IBM's $120 million (approximately R1 billion), two-year market expansion investment in sub-Saharan Africa,” Foster says.

This investment includes the Blue Gene super computer that was donated by IBM and is installed in the Centre for High Performance Computing, in the Cape Town suburb of Rondebosch.

Virtualisation centre

The new innovation centre will support skills development by demonstrating and providing training and access to open standards-based and emerging technologies, such as cloud computing, Web 2.0, service-oriented architecture and energy-efficient IT solutions.

“Essentially, the Cape Town centre is a virtualisation of the Johannesburg one. We have a vision to open such innovation centres at all our regional offices,” Foster says. However, he would not commit to when this would happen.

Foster says the facilities of the innovation centres are available to IBM's business partners and clients free of charge.

“Our return here is indirect. The more ISVs that use and sell our products, the better it is for developing those skills and the use of our products and services,” he notes.

IBM has grown its South African business partner community by 40% since the beginning of 2008, adding more than 200 new companies to a group that now totals over 700 local resellers, solution integrators and ISVs today. In Cape Town, 140 ISVs offer solutions that run on IBM software and hardware, Foster says.

An IBM statement says there has seen substantial growth among South African software developers taking advantage of IBM developerWorks, its global site to gain technology skills.

“More than 10 600 unique South African developers are visiting developerWorks each month in 2009, gaining access to software tools and code, IT standards and best practices, and skills training in technologies such as IBM and open source software, Linux, Java, XML and cloud computing,” the statement says.