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IBM expands hosting business

IBM's Global Services division has expanded the number of applications it will run for customers in its own data centers, the company said Monday. The company will run SAP's accounting and business software, Siebel Systems' software for managing relationships with customers and its own WebSphere e-commerce software. Among customers for the service is Things Remembered, a company that sells personalized gifts and that's paying IBM to host its WebSphere e-commerce operation at an IBM computing center in Raleigh, N.C.

In the heady days of the Internet, many believed "application service providers," or ASPs, would blossom to run customers' complicated software, but the idea largely flopped. IBM, with the largest computing services business in the industry, is keeping the idea alive. Big Blue ultimately hopes many companies will purchase such computing services the way they currently pay for power or water.