Bala Rajaraman, who is helping spearhead development of “cloud” computing services for IBM in Research Triangle Park, is one of 10 new “IBM Fellows.”

He is among the leaders developing IBM’s Bluemix applications. IBM recently opened a new data center at RTP that focuses on cloud services, and Big Blue numbers numerous Bluemix developers among its RTP work force of several thousand.

The cloud is a key part of IBM’s strategy to refocus on the company on software and services rather than hardware.

The “Fellow” selection is IBM’s (NYSE: IBM) top technical honor.

As part of the honor, each Fellow will choose a country in an IBM emerging market where they will serve as a technical ambassador.

Rajaraman, who already was a “Distinguished Engineer,” has worked with Big Blue for nearly a decade.

Notes IBM:

“Bala Rajaraman is a key technical leader in IBM’s strategy and product development for cloud computing and IT service management. He was instrumental in conceiving and producing Bluemix, IBM’s development platform for cloud computing. Bluemix enables IT departments, entrepreneurs and students to quickly create and manage everything from run-the-business applications to mobile apps by tapping a library of ready-made software components. He pressed to make Bluemix easy to use so it would be widely adopted.”

Rajaraman focuses on cloud strategy, architecture, design, development, services and systems management and performance of complex systems, according to his LinkedIn profile.

In announcing the “Fellows,” IBM Chair and CEO Ginni Rometty saluted the 10.

“Innovation is the life blood of IBM. The men and women we honor today as 2015 IBM Fellows are the driving force behind that innovation,” she said in a statement. “They are tackling some of the toughest and most urgent technical challenges facing business and society. In the process, they are leading the tech industry into a new era of computing where cognitive systems, Big Data and analytics, cloud, mobile and security technologies are changing the world.”

IBM sets several criteria for selection:

  • Sustained innovation in some of the world’s most important technologies.
  • Significant recognition as leaders among IBM’s executive and technical communities.
  • Broad industry acknowledgement of their accomplishments.
  • A strong history of helping clients successfully deploy new technologies and business models.

Only 267 IBMers have received the “Fellow” honor since 1963, and 95 remain IBM workers.

IBM noted that the new Fellows have collectively earned 289 patents and applied for another 152 more.

The other Fellows:

  • Donna Eng Dillenberger – Mainframe Systems

IBM Research — Yorktown Heights, New York

Donna Dillenberger is the global leader of enterprise systems work at IBM Research, continuing a distinguished career of contributions to System Z products — the mainstays of industries ranging from banking to transportation. Her achievements include innovative work in enabling servers within data centers to share memory resources while using 100 percent of their processing power. In 2014, Donna began working on transforming mainframes to become more cognitive — enabling interaction with users in a more natural way and developing components that can detect patterns in business data that provide insights that help organizations run better.

  • Chitra Dorai – Financial Industry Analytics

IBM Global Business Services — Yorktown Heights, New York

Chitra Dorai is a leader in the field of financial industry analytics. Her achievements include innovations in machine learning, multimedia content analysis, unstructured data mining and computer vision. After years in research, she moved into a role in IBM’s consulting business to work closely with clients on some of their greatest challenges. Her recent work is focused on transforming mortgage services in the banking industry. The goal is to reduce the potential for mortgage-driven market crises while enabling people to fulfill their dreams of home ownership.

  • Michael Factor – Cloud Storage

IBM Research — Haifa, Israel

Michael Factor is IBM’s foremost expert in cloud storage and has been shaping the company’s vision, strategy and technical architecture. One of the most important factors in cloud computing is the ability for technology companies to agree on standards that enable cloud systems to interoperate and share data easily. In support of that goal, Michael led IBM’s contributions to the storage elements of OpenStack cloud computing standards. He’s also leading one of the more promising storage innovations in the Big Data era — the concept of “storlets,” a mechanism for moving data processing to the data rather than moving massive amounts of data around within computing systems.

  • James Steve Fields – Power Systems

IBM Systems — Austin, Texas

Steve Fields is IBM’s leader in Power Systems architecture and design, with responsibility for strategy and technical execution. He was essential to the success of IBM’s POWER microprocessors in the UNIX and Linux server markets, and is currently directing the evolution of Power systems for emerging demands, including cloud computing and analytics. His ability to solve problems that span multiple hardware and software disciplines has contributed to the improved performance and quality of IBM Power Systems. He’s also a key contributor to IBM’s OpenPOWER initiative, which has opened the chip and system architectures for partners to build products on.

  • Mickey Iqbal – Enterprise IT Architecture

IBM Global Technology Services — Coppell, Texas

Mickey Iqbal is an expert in designing highly efficient computing systems in data centers on behalf of IBM clients. By using automated management programs to efficiently share computing, storage and networking resources among a large number of servers, data center operators can fully utilize their assets, use space efficiently and better control their energy costs. Mickey works closely with clients to design systems that are custom-fit to their requirements, and has helped more than 1,000 clients worldwide.

  • Bernhard Schiefer – Database

IBM Analytics — Toronto, Canada

Berni Schiefer is a recognized industry expert in benchmarking and database performance, and has been instrumental to IBM’s Big Data technologies. His innovations and technical leadership have been critical to the evolution of database software in the area of autonomics and pushing the boundaries of Big Data performance. Berni also has long-term strategic engagements with IBM clients as an advocate and trusted advisor.

  • James C. Sexton – High Performance and Scientific Computing

IBM Research — Yorktown Heights, New York

James Sexton is IBM’s leading technical computing performance expert. He developed a comprehensive, performance characterization methodology that is essential to IBM’s high-performance computing offerings and influences their system architectures through all phases of design, sales enablement and ongoing performance tuning. As a key member of the Blue Gene program, Jim was the first to understand how important collaborative application development was to clients. Blue Gene computers, which combine high performance with world-leading energy efficiency, are the workhorses of a number of national research laboratories and university labs.

  • Jing Shyr – Predictive Analytics

IBM Analytics — Chicago, Illinois

Jing Shyr, who joined IBM in 2009 with the acquisition of SPSS, is a widely recognized leader in the field of predictive analytics. Her methodology for end-to-end automation of statistical analysis became the core of IBM SPSS Analytic Catalyst, a tool that enables non-specialist users to derive forward-looking insights from data. Building on that project, she drove technology advances that today are central to IBM’s Big Data analytics business. As Big Data and analytics tools become increasingly essential for modern businesses, Jing will focus on developing and deploying predictive technologies across IBM’s analytics portfolio.

  • John R. Smith – Visual Analytics

IBM Research — Yorktown Heights, New York

John Smith is a pioneer in fundamental research for image and video content search, retrieval and analytics. He was one of the earliest developers of an appearance-based approach to analytics by applying machine learning to visual features such as color, texture and shape. This seminal work has been highly influential, garnering more than 15,000 citations in academic papers. Jim has also been instrumental to the development of key products based on these technologies, and he is currently working to bring deep learning-based image recognition capabilities to IBM Watson.