IBM opens 'elite' IT lab in Brazil

Big Blue's sixth High Performance Software and Services Lab will tackle issues for South American companies.

Candace Lombardi
Candace Lombardi
In a software-driven world, it's easy to forget about the nuts and bolts. Whether it's cars, robots, personal gadgetry or industrial machines, Candace Lombardi examines the moving parts that keep our world rotating. A journalist who divides her time between the United States and the United Kingdom, Lombardi has written about technology for the sites of The New York Times, CNET, USA Today, MSN, ZDNet, Silicon.com, and GameSpot. She is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not a current employee of CNET.
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IBM has launched its sixth "SWAT team"--this time in South America.

The High Performance Software and Services Lab (HiPOD) in Sao Paulo, Brazil, opened on Tuesday.

IBM's HiPODs generally are staffed with 40 to 50 software engineers, developers and niche specialists who deal with issues such as capacity management problems and large customer infrastructures.

The company considers these "elite IT specialists" to be the "SWAT teams" or "Navy Seals" within IBM, said Mike Azzi, a spokesman for IBM Emerging Technologies & Global Communications.

"You need this mission accomplished; you call them in...Even IBM Global Services kicks things over to these labs. They focus on a lot of first-of-a-kind work, solving problems that have never been solved in terms of both size and complexity," Azzi said.

Although the HiPODs are available to any IBM client that has an unprecedented problem, they usually assist large companies with sophisticated systems. Visa, eBay and Charles Schwab, for example, have used their services.

In particular, IBM expects the Sao Paulo lab to provide solutions for the emerging South American telecommunications, banking and financial industries, whose rapid growth has been causing volume spikes in their systems, said Azzi. A global grid, however, allows HiPOD team members from each of the six labs to work together on specific problems spanning different physical locations.

The other HiPODs operate in China, India, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The labs were officially launched in 2002 out of a specialized Silicon Valley team within IBM that had begun tackling particularly difficult problems in the late 1990s, Azzi said.