Thursday, October 31, 2013

IBM Enterprise2013: Solution success for Cloud, Big Data, Analytics and Security

The first IBM Enterprise2013 brought together IBM’s Enterprise Executive Summit, the Power Systems Technical University and the System z Technical University on a single site. This allowed attendees to pick from a range of detailed technical sessions as complements to Executive-focused presentations of IBM solution strategies, plans and customer stories.  IBM customers presented sessions and testimonials which detailed their successes when working with IBM solutions, products, services and partners. 

“Infrastructure matters” was a unifying theme at this event, but that the solution is what should drive its selection was a clear and consistent companion message.  The sessions provided examples of cost effective strategies and solutions that allow IT to resolve pressing enterprise problems. 

For years, we’ve said: “Customers buy solutions that they believe will resolve pressing problems or will allow them to accomplish their goals.  Goals include: gaining competitive advantage, increasing customer satisfaction, creating unique services, etc.”  This was in reaction to ‘religious wars’ arguing the universal supremacy of a singular technology or architecture. Such wars wasted time and resources as they distracted IT talent from their role as a creator of and contributor to enterprise success. IBM clearly endorses that same message.

Problem solving through the lens of a unique infrastructure (technology) resulted, all too often, in a proliferation of incompatible, costly and underutilized platforms. The results were costs for support, software licensing, operations and maintenance that were significantly higher than necessary. There’s a reason why 70% of most IT budgets are used for support, not development. 

In supporting the message and theme, Steve Mills turned to IBM’s own experience. IBM’s evaluation of their own IT operations, led them (and Steve advised the audience) to “eliminate, eliminate, eliminate” as in removing redundancies and overlaps everywhere, in operations, applications, workloads, workflows, etc. It includes process standardization and close attention to eliminating data center sprawl. Corollary to those actions are simplification and automation. 

Steve also emphasized the point was not simply cost reduction and ROI. The focus has to be on overall optimization of efforts by increasing productivity, efficiency in operations, resource and asset utilization, based on the accurate identification, allocation and accounting of costs.

The choice of infrastructure remains important. As IBM made clear during the sessions, selection of the right IT architecture both drives and creates business value. Today’s dynamic, automated infrastructure allows creation of new business models, facilitates business transformation, speeds competitive innovation and helps to establish market leadership. It is the needs of the enterprise (financial, market, competitive) along with workload (security, reliability, elasticity, scalability, etc.) requirements that drive the evaluation and choice of infrastructure.

IBM’s advantage is that they are unique in offering the broadest range of infrastructure platforms from the chip to the enterprise (mainframe) server. All built with support for open standards and open environments. They also uniquely offer a range of factory integrated solutions for specific workload types and challenges. IBM focuses their solutions to address challenges related to the Cloud, Big Data/Analytics and Security. These areas are currently or emerging as presenting the most critical and pressing problems for enterprises of all types. IBM introduced new solutions and innovations in its platforms, ranging from System z to Power Systems to System x to storage. 

The presentations and announcements are available at IBM Enterprise 2013[1]. And, we’ll be writing more about what we heard and liked about the event. 

For now, we’ll close with a list of tips to achieve cost effective IT from Steve’s presentation:

  1. Do not confuse price with cost
  2. Budgeting & charge back techniques can cause false economics
  3. Technology is a tool, not a religion…..insist on fact based analysis
  4. TCO cannot be overlooked, but neither can agility & effectiveness
  5. Elimination is the clearest path to saving money 
None of these should be surprising. What is and will be surprising is how frequently they are violated and pervasively ignored in so many organizations today.