IBM to buy Chinese e-mail company assets

Its Bluehouse project, currently in beta testing, is set to absorb intellectual assets from Hong Kong-based Outblaze, which sells hosted multilingual e-mail and messaging services.

Tom Espiner Special to CNET News
2 min read

Correction, January 21, 9:14 a.m. PDT: An earlier version of this story incorrectly described the scope of IBM's acquisition. IBM is acquiring only certain assets of Outblaze.

Computing giant IBM has announced its intention to acquire assets from a Chinese e-mail and messaging company.

Hong Kong-based firm Outblaze sells hosted multilingual e-mail and messaging services for other service providers, telecommunications companies, and corporations to operate under their own brands.

Outblaze intellectual assets, including code and staff, will become part of IBM Lotus' Bluehouse project, IBM's online-business and social-networking and collaboration service, IBM announced on Thursday. Bluehouse is currently in open beta testing.

"The acquisition of these Outblaze assets further demonstrates Lotus' commitment to delivering secure, scalable online solutions, and will help accelerate delivery of collaborative services, with little to no IT involvement," Bob Picciano, the general manager of IBM Lotus Software, said in a statement.

Security experts warned that companies considering moving to hosted e-mail services in developing countries should think about where their data will reside, and choose their provider carefully. While Hong Kong is a highly developed autonomous region of China, a report last week warned that emerging markets such as China are at greater risk of cybercrime, while the U.S. government warned in November that the Chinese government was using advanced cyberespionage techniques.

"With any hosted service, you have to do due diligence, look at the system and how it's being managed," said Andy Buss, a senior analyst at Canalys.

Buss recommended that businesses either use a trusted local company or one of the trusted larger providers, such as IBM, for hosted messaging services. The analyst added that as more workers start to rely on online tools, companies have to work out how to integrate tools and work flows.

Tom Espiner of ZDNet UK reported from London.