Why is IBM Rising Today?

IBM (NYSE: IBM  ) is taking the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) higher today. IBM's 0.8% rise adds 10 points to the Dow, making Big Blue one of the index's strongest performers on Monday.

The biggest rocket engine behind IBM's surge appears to be a fresh partnership in the cloud-computing market.

On Monday morning, IBM announced a deeper partnership with enterprise software giant SAP (NYSE: SAP  ) . Specifically, IBM now supports a number of SAP's high-performance data analysis tools on the SoftLayer cloud computing platform.

It's not like SAP and IBM haven't worked together before. The companies claim a 40-year history of collaboration. Even so, it's potentially big news to see IBM offering official support for SAP's in-memory HANA data processing on SoftLayer cloud services.

This announcement marries IBM's high-performance cloud platform with SAP's equally performance-oriented data analysis tools. It's an official support situation, which attaches business-grade service level agreements to SAP-on-IBM installations, and removes the business risk of installing unsupported software on otherwise well-known computing platforms.

SAP HANA is not the only data analysis tool available on IBM's cloud services, nor is IBM the only cloud vendor to support HANA. But this announcement opens new doors to customers who have committed to either HANA or SoftLayer solutions -- and particularly for users locked into both of these offerings.

You might expect SAP shares to rise just like IBM's stock did on this news. But the stock is actually falling today. The company's annual user conference kicked off this morning, and the first-day keynotes failed to inspire SAP investors. Keep in mind that SAP is running under freshly appointed CEO Bill McDermott, and his speech this morning didn't outline a clear strategy for the next couple years. SAP shares are trading down 1% on the NYSE, and closed 0.6% lower on the Frankfurt exchange.

So IBM is rising on a cloud-based partnership announcement, while SAP slides on unrelated news.

You can call it business as usual.

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