Summary:

The education cloud is now a hot destination for tech companies: Taiwanese ODM Wistron plans to get its piece of the action, starting with a project in Malaysia next year.

Bringing cloud computing to classrooms around the world is becoming a big deal. Last week IBM announced plans to provide cloud-based adaptive learning to  schools in one Georgia county. Now Wistron, the big Taiwanese server and laptop maker, plans to dive into the educational cloud market with a big effort in Malaysia next year.

Wistron plans to build 3,000 to 4,000 “smart” classrooms next year, according to comments made by CEO Robert Hwang. The company will use its own educational cloud platform, software and hardware, according to FocusTaiwan.  Details are sketchy on whether Wistron is building soup-to-nuts infrastructure or partnering with a big cloud player and I’ve reached out for more info there.

Up until now, Wistron was mostly known in the U.S. as one of the white-box PC and server makers that have wreaked havoc with name-brand competitors like HP, IBM and Dell over the last few years. The oft-cited reason is that more workloads are flowing to massively scaled data centers that tend to buy huge numbers of commodity servers from vendors like Wistron and Quanta, which are often called original device manufacturers or ODMs. That means less opportunity for scale-up and pricier machines from HP, IBM et al.

As an example of that market share shift, for the third quarter of 2013, revenue for the ODMs in aggregate soared 45.2 percent year-over-year according to researcher IDC. In that same period, revenue share for IBM, Dell and Oracle fell 19.4 percent; 6 percent and 16 percent respectively.  HP hung in with 1.5 percent revenue growth year over year.

Given the news of Wistron’s cloud classroom push, it has ambitions that go far beyond building PC and server hardware. Although of course, cloud infrastructure demands a lot of hardware of the type that Wistron builds.

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