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Friday, May 16, 2014

IMPACT 2014 – IBM as the Magician’s Helper


By Rich Ptak

Scientist/statesman Arthur C. Clarke promoted three laws, one of the most trenchant states: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Even those with minimal familiarity with the building blocks of technology will comprehend the truth in that law. At IBM’s IMPACT 2014, the developers and operations staff that create, enable and deliver the ‘magic’ saw the latest offerings of infrastructure, software and services that support their efforts.

Over 9,100 attendees from 83 countries accessed displays and attended discussions that provided a detailed review of the latest, greatest hardware starting with the amazing POWER8[1] chip, brand new PowerSystems[2] through to PureSystems, WATSON and System z mainframes.

However, the strongest focus was on the increasingly accessible, powerful software used to create and deliver the magic. On display were products and solutions ranging from Cloud–based Open Standards development, test and deployment services to specialized applications that support developers and, increasingly, business staffs in their quest to harness the power of Cloud, Big Data/Analytics and mobile devices. All of these are designed to speed development, test and delivery of solutions that improve enterprise operations and life in general in so many different ways.

IBM continues the theme of their new business operating model “IBM as a Service” (from Pulse 2014). Day 1’s theme ‘The New Composable Business’ expanded on the requirements of this emerging style for business operation. IBM uses this term to describe the dynamic evolution in the organization, creation and delivery of business services a result of and driven by today’s big three technologies: Cloud, Big Data and Mobile. To succeed, composable businesses require the structure, organization and infrastructure of a complementary ‘Composable IT’, which are fueled and made possible by those same technologies.

This leads us to Day 2’s theme: “Made with IBM” kicking of with customer and partner presentations demonstrating the successes they were realizing using IBM products and services. IBM has recently been celebrating significant anniversaries (50 years of the mainframe), introducing the new POWER8 chip and PowerSystems, as well as launching Power-based WATSON as a real business group as it proves it is not simply an exotic example of expensive, esoteric cognitive computing.

Underlying all this, IBM said that it is the developers who hold the key to innovation. Therefore, IBM is dedicated to making their task easier, convincingly demonstrating it on-stage as customers working in real-time used IBM products to assemble solutions. Using a variety of platforms, including WATSON, they demonstrated customized customer service interactions involving commercial transactions, travel planning, financial services, as well as more complex services for medical treatment protocols, resource location and management.

On Day 3, the focus was on “The Way Forward”, discussing extensions to existing, as well as numerous new IBM efforts that increase the accessibility and lower the cost of using their solutions, services and infrastructure now available for students, developers, businesses and enterprises. There were numerous announcements of new and enhanced products, services and solutions. A sampling includes the announcement of additional enhancements to IBM Codename: BlueMix[3], a Cloud-based delivery system to virtually the complete range of IBM products and solutions and a considerable number of partner products to developers et al to gain experience, insight and try n’ buy. Then, there is the IBM Cloud marketplace of over 200 IBM and Third-party products and services.  PureApplication Service on SoftLayer improves Cloud economics (lower costs) with over 200 software patterns that are more modular to increase agility, simplify reuse and add flexibility. Complementing these activities is a new IBM MobileFirst Development solution. You can sign-up for a free account on Cloudant[4], IBM’s mobile-ready, highly scalable NoSQL Database-as-a-Service now available on SoftLayer. New pre-configured industry-specific mobile apps were announced for Retail Banking, Small Business Banking, Coordinated Care, etc. The list continues, more information is available directly on IBM’s site.

IBM has and is operating to a vision of market that is in the process of radical transformation. The transformation is fundamental and massive affecting the business and operational models of vendors, partners and customers. It changes how revenue is generated; how solutions are created, deployed, delivered and accessed. A lot of foundational investment must be made in building and providing the comprehensive ecosystem of vendors, channels, partners and customers to achieve the transformation. No company can do it all alone. IBM is working hard to define, create and implement the parts of the ecosystem that they can deliver and influence. They are working with their partners, competitors and customers in the areas of the ecosystem that each of those requires and where coop-tition is necessary for the transformation is to occur. Those include long-range efforts at standards and environmental portability.

Developers have a key role in initiating and accomplishing a successful move. Vast advantages will accrue to those who make the shift. IBM has set out to attract and support those developers, partners and customers that already recognize the need to change. They are undertaking the major task to accelerate and make the move to composable business operations easier for current movers and to educate those who recognize something is happening and are searching for the path forward. IBM’s efforts are inclusive, recognizing that the ultimate success of the effort depends on the success of multiple players. IBM Application & Integration Middleware General Manager, Marie Wieck summarized the plan best in her keynote speech summary:

  • IBM is helping customers transform to composable businesses and capitalize on cloud, data and mobile
  • IBM continues the journey to build out the most comprehensive cloud portfolio in the industry, with the IBM Cloud marketplace as the single destination
  • IBM has opened its middleware to the cloud, working with broad development ecosystem on the BlueMix platform-as-a-service

IBM sees the future in this transformation. We tend to agree.



[1] See a review: POWER8 – IBM’s billion dollar bet on servers at http://www.ptakassociates.com/content/
[2] More details from IBM at: http://www.ibm.com/power
[3] See our review IBM's BlueMix---A playground for developers at: http://ptakassociates.blogspot.com/
[4] Sign up for a free account: https://cloudant.com/