IBM and IP-based telecoms operator Qwest Communications said they will build 28 ecommerce data centres over the next three years in a $5bn alliance.
Company officials said the partnership will bring together IBM's information technology services and Qwest's broadband network to provide business improved ecommerce services.
As part of the agreement, the companies will provide web-hosting capabilities such as physical space, a broadband internet network, bandwidth, expertise and reliable management.
"Our alliance with Qwest demonstrates how leaders in the IT and internet communications industries can collaborate to help companies worldwide become ebusinesses," said Doug Elix, senior vice president of IBM Global Services.
IBM's Global Services group will build the centres, called Cybercenters, for Qwest and all profit from the project will be divided evenly between the two companies.
Elix said the centres will improve customers' financial performance, lower capital costs and cut the time needed to roll out new ebusiness services.
"This raises the profile of both companies in regards to web hosting," said Jeanne Schaff, an analyst at researcher IDC. "IBM wants to become a more visible presence in the web hosting market and Qwest wants to build all these data centres, but it is a huge investment which they needed someone to go in with them on."
The first four centres, which will go online later this year in the US, will be built in Dallas, Philadelphia, Sterling, Virginia and the San Jose area. Other planned locations include Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Denver, New York and Seattle.
Qwest predicts that it will have some 20 centres operating by the end of this year, with a total of 42 Cybercenters planned for eventual operation in the US and Canada. Officials said most of the facilities will have a direct connection to Qwest's internet network.
The alliance is non-exclusive and IBM said it might eventually look to team up with telecoms companies in other regions.
Big Blue said it manages more than 40,000 computer servers in 133 centres around the world. Earlier this month, Cable & Wireless said it would launch similar services in the UK, Japan and the US.
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