Inventors' corner: Inventing in the Cloud

Over the past 16 consecutive years, IBM has received more U.S. patents than any organization in any industry. This includes the company’s record-breaking total in 2008, when IBM shattered the U.S. patent record, becoming the first to eclipse 4,000 patents in a single year.

Behind IBM's unprecedented patent tally are thousands of inventors around the globe that pioneer new innovations that enable the company expand into new areas, so IBM and our clients can capitalize on emerging business opportunities. More than 6,000 IBM inventors contributed to the company's record-breaking 2008 patent results. They reside in 44 different states and territories in the U.S. and 27 other countries globally.

The nature of ideas patented by IBMers span the gamut of industries and applications, such as the rapidly evolving cloud computing market. During the past few years, IBM inventors have expanded the company’s collection of cloud computing patents with variety of inventions that support its efforts to lead the way in furthering cloud architecture design and development.

A few sample patents that support the company’s cloud computing portfolio include:

Provisioning web services – U.S. Patent # 7,506,021

A benefit of cloud computing is the ability to offer “self-service processing”, where end-users submit requests that are satisfied by the Cloud. Such requests are implemented as business processes, which are used to perform a wide range of tasks ranging from fulfilling customer orders for books or stocks to upgrading computer systems. This invention simplifies the execution of business processes by automating provisioning—preparing computing hardware and software to operate on a network—of the web services needed to accomplish the task.


Michael G. Polan

Marika Joannidis

Stephen P. Roberts

John W. Stephenson

Gabi Rothenstein

Secure system and method for enforcement of privacy policy and protection of confidentiality – U.S. Patent # 7,401,352

As the amount of information transmitted over networks by businesses, individuals and other entities continues to grow, the ability to guarantee privacy of information has become an ongoing challenge, especially in large-scale, shared-resource environments such as Clouds. This invention allows businesses to exchange information securely, while respecting policies that protect the privacy of both parties.


Sastry S. Duri

Xuan Liu

Paul A. Moskowitz

Ronald Perez

Edith G. Schonberg

Moninder Singh

Jung-Mu Tang

Charles P. Tresser

Marco O. Gruteser

Method and system for third party resource provisioning management – U.S. Patent # 6,871232

Networks are commonly used to provide users access to network resources such as software, electronic data, or files in storage systems or databases. As the number of users on a given network increases, and as resources become increasingly distributed, it becomes especially important to ensure that users are able to access only resources to which they have proper authorization. In the Cloud, this challenge is paramount and this invention improves the management of resources, especially resources that are geographically dispersed.


Frank Yeh, Jr.

Jeffrey C. Curie,

Kai Mildenberger

The creativity and inventiveness IBM’s technical community is helping the company pursue a cloud computing business strategy designed to enable rapid delivery of computing resources, while providing a means for clients to turn complex business processes into simple services.

In addition to helping IBM seek new cloud computing client engagements, the patented inventions also will help the company generate IP income; protect its huge investment in R&D; establish cross-licenses, which provide IBM and many other companies with significant freedom of action in the marketplace.