Wednesday, April 29, 2015

BMC’s NGT = DB2 utilities for the 21st Century

BMC will be providing details on next generation utilities for managing DB2 at IDUG on Tuesday, May 5th.You can read why this should interest mainframe operations staff in the commentary we just published. It provides an early peek at some of the innovation and radical new functionality that has excited users. These include the ability to perform fully automated reorgs done as often and as many times as you want without impacting the apps that use the  data base.

The IDUG session is:  BMC Next Generation Technology for DB2 - The New Paradigm.

Monday, April 27, 2015

IBM and Peugeot extend partnership to speed creation of value-added services for Smart Cars

The announcement by PSA Peugeot Citroen, Europe’s second largest car-manufacturer), of a partnership with IBM to create and build mobile services for connected cars is big news. The partnership will use existing and evolving next-generation technologies to broaden access to the ability to create and deliver mobile services. The agreement allows the pair together as well as with other companies to develop, create, commercialize and sell new services. New and existing clients can propose new services and work with the partners to bring them to market.

The partnership will leverage IBM expertise in Big Data and Analytics along with IBM MobileFirst to create services based on the data collected from sources that span the spectrum of those providing services related to auto maintenance, travel, transportation, entertainment, traffic, hospitality, etc. 

This is an agreement that aims from the start to push the boundaries of technology to expand mass market access to personalized mobile services. The combination of connected automobiles with the escalation in the amount and variety of accessible data and mobile computing combined and revenue driven entrepreneurship could unleash a cornucopia of personalized services. The deal sets up both companies to benefit themselves, clients and consumers by speeding access to services that can radically improve and enhance travel by auto.

This will be fun to watch!

IBM’s Cloud Business = delivering value to clients!

By Rich Ptak

IBM and its Cloud business attracted some significant commentary recently. First, Cloud received a call out in a front-page Wall Street Journal story as one of IBM CEO ‘Ginni’ Rometty’s successful moves. Unmentioned was the little detail that Cloud’s rolling 12 month revenues exceeded $7.7 billion. Clearly, IBM is at the forefront with its sophisticated offerings of value-adding Cloud services. 

Additionally, IBM’s 2015 First-Quarter Results had Cloud reporting revenue growth in excess of 75%, making it a significant contributor to overall reported revenues exceeding 20% (30%+ if adjusted for currency and divested business). Finally, Cloud services posts a very respectable $3.8 Billion 2015 annual run-rate (versus last year’s $2.3B).

Overlooked is the background to this highly respectable performance. IBM quickly acted on their early recognition as Cloud began developing into two distinctly different market segments. This is a common phenomenon as IT markets mature, but one that started early for Cloud.

One segment provides low-end, commoditized Cloud services; characterized by volume-pricing, infrastructure-as-a-service, basic support, combinations of self- and roll-your-own services and cut-throat competition. The other segment provides sophisticated services aimed at leveraging Cloud for higher-value, higher profit opportunities. The focus is on realizing enterprise value from the proper use of technology. This is the segment IBM pursues.

Examples from IBM’s first quarter deals include ShopDirect[1], one of the largest UK’s retailers, and the Weather Company, that provides weather data to a wide variety of companies and industries to help them better manage their businesses[2].  Both have a low-end Cloud provider satisfy their infrastructure-as-a-service needs.

However, when it came to data gathering and applying analytics to gain insight for their own and customer use in a Cloud environment, they turned to IBM.  

•         ShopDirect is working with IBM to scale their mobile offerings; they add value by identifying and understanding mobile buying patterns to customize marketing offerings.  
•         The Weather Company is working with IBM to analyze and apply weather data collected from millions of sensors to provide unique weather-based insights that serve the business needs of their customers in a variety of industries, e.g. insurance and retail.

This trend is becoming increasingly common across Cloud clients. IBM Cloud first quarter announcements included:

                  Marriott will use IBM Cloud to offer faster digital services to web-savvy guests as well as to acquire insight to improve services to this traveler cohort at over 4,000 properties across the globe.
                  The U.S. Army will integrate the IBM Cloud with other existing Army IT systems to process more than 40 million transactions each day.
                  In a multi-million dollar agreement, Coca-Cola Amatil will move its Asia Pacific customer planning and relationship management systems to the IBM Cloud. Hosting the workloads in IBM’s two Australian SoftLayer centers speeds CCA’s response to customer needs while delivering significant savings.

To accommodate the increased demand, IBM is adding six new date centers (total 45) and expanding capacity in nine locales. In the last quarter, new cloud centers were opened in Sydney and Montreal.  And we are investing more than $1 billion in IBM Bluemix, a cloud development platform, which allows ecosystem partners and clients to develop cloud-based apps, such as analytics apps, and apply those apps in all manner of cloud environments.  

Friday, April 24, 2015

BMC TrueSight Operations Management 10 for the Digital Age

By Rich Ptak

BMC introduced its TrueSight family of products last fall. They promised “to help improve the user experience, optimize service levels, and reduce ownership costs”. They would accomplish this by first seamlessly integrating their capacity optimization and operations management solutions with real-time and predictive analytics for root-cause analysis. Second, they announced a strategic initiative focused on enabling a speedier, more successful transformation to the Digital Age with solutions that bring “IT to life”. They will produce intuitive tools that facilitate collaboration between IT and business staffs “while fostering delivery of digital services that directly engage customers, partners and stakeholders.”

We liked their approach at the time and subsequent announcements[1] reinforced our opinion. BMC’s announcement of TrueSight IT Operations Management 10 offers new levels of sophistication, innovation, simplification and effectiveness.

Modernizing IT Operations in response to Digital Change
Succeeding in today’s Digital Age requires modernizing management, analysis and reporting of IT Operations. IT staffs have had to juggle multiple screens, unintegrated and unconsolidated data coming at them from a variety of sources. The problem wasn’t a lack of data, but the inability to quickly assemble a coherent, informative view.  BMC focuses on three areas to address those issues. These are: 1) Smart Operations, 2) User-centric performance, and Proactive Analytics. Here is what BMC is providing in each of these.

Smart Operations
Digital Age enterprises must be able to rapidly respond to changing customer and market demands for services. Service delivery depends upon application performance which is directly linked to consistent, reliable infrastructure operations. Dependencies that extend and interact across multiple, different infrastructure devices and elements pose a management challenge. Adding to the complexity is handling combinations of infrastructure and apps that are increasingly dynamic and mobile. The piece-meal, siloed approach of yesterday’s solutions complicated the task of just visualizing end-to-end relationships across infrastructure and applications, let alone identifying and correcting problems.

Smart Operations allows IT and business staff to create customizable converged, end-to-end views of infrastructure and application that are meaningful to them. Problem identification and analysis is faster and easier. Data from multiple sources including events, devices, health, performance, status, etc. can be consolidated to provide application-centric views of what is happening.

Customizable dashboards allow creation of converged views that reflect the interests and responsibilities of operations and management staff. Workflows can be created to speed analysis and facilitate drill-down to identify and rectify problems. Baselines are automatically and dynamically created along with notification of abnormal events. Probable cause analysis reduces alarms and false positive using enterprise specific rules. 

User-Centric Performance
Today’s market for service development and delivery is increasingly competitive and global in its expectations and operations. Fickle customers demand a perfect or near-perfect experience in every exchange. IT operations staff cannot afford to wait for a user’s complaint of poor service to initiate efforts to identify a problem. They need a User-centric Performance view along with an understanding of how application and infrastructure performance impacts the user’s experience. IT operations staff needs information that allows them to know if undetected problems are causing service disruption.

This approach marks the next step in the logical evolution of Application Performance Management (APM) for IT operations. By converging the perspective of applications and infrastructure, IT can more quickly resolve problems (when they cannot be avoided) and proactively manage their environment so those problems don’t crop up again.

Proactive Analytics
Today’s users have been conditioned to expect an exceptional experience. They demand rapid resolution when (expectedly rare) problems do occur. IT must be able to detect and even anticipate when changes in application and infrastructure performance indicate potential service delivery problems. IT operations must be able to monitor health, performance and availability data on all infrastructure and applications involved in service delivery. In practice, this means the hardware, the OS, any middleware, and finally the application. They must be able to detect anomalies, identify and assess the potential impact on service delivery and decide on the appropriate action to avoid disruptions. To do this, IT operations staff must have access to Proactive Analytics able to rapidly process large amounts of the full range of data (log, event, machine, structured, unstructured, etc.). 

In addition, BMC’s TrueSight recognizes the difficulty in handling problem determination across multiple suppliers. It is capable of handling the events and data from most 3rd party suppliers. It will use this data in the analytics engine for a probable cause analysis. It is also able to collect and index data and events across a wide range of environments to help pinpoint the root-cause of a problem.

BMC’s TrueSight 10 is a significant step forward for IT operations management. It should materially reduce the number of false positives that IT departments have had to waste time on in the past. Moreover, it offers new functions that will make IT a more valuable and attractive partner to the business functions in the company.

It’s our opinion that the introduction of BMC‘s TrueSight approach accelerates a much needed advance in the modernization of IT’s abilities for proactive monitoring, managing and resolving the increasingly complex problems of delivering IT services. This approach places them at the "head of the pack" of those offering operations management solutions. No other vendor has adopted and implemented an equivalently comprehensive integration of function with a comparable focus on the user's experience. And, that's how competition benefits everyone!

[1] See our blogs on BMC announcements at

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Supercomputing’s Future is Open Systems and that means IBM’s OpenPOWER

By Rich Ptak/Bill Moran

Supercomputing is a fascinating topic. There is an organization maintaining a Top 500[1] supercomputer scorecard listing the world’s top supercomputers. In the latest edition (November 2014) of the top 10 systems listed, four are IBM Power-based systems, three are Cray, two are Intel, and one is Sparc-based. Clearly, Power has already earned a strong position at the top of the heap and has momentum there.

Another fair question might be: “what will OpenPOWER’s position be going forward?” We believe the arrival of OpenPOWER makes it stronger. Power’s current position was established with an architecture proprietary to and controlled by IBM. OpenPOWER’s arrival changes that equation for the better. 

Let’s consider some of the way OpenPOWER is strengthened. Of course, all the usual arguments for an Open architecture apply. OpenPOWER has attracted more than one hundred companies to join the OpenPOWER Foundation[2]. All have complete access to the technology; all can design devices to attach to the technology. They can even make their own Power chips and servers as already announced by several Chinese[3] companies (PowerCore, Zoom Netcom, ChuagHe, etc.). All  member companies, universities, and non-computer vendors e.g. Google, can contribute to evolving the architecture to meet their needs. 

Additionally, the situation in the Supercomputer arena has also changed. Past Power successes were achieved by IBM alone. Now other companies are contributing both their technology and their intellectual capital to make OpenPOWER successful. We have already seen IBM and NVIDIA collaborate to win the DOE project. In addition, other foundation companies, e.g. Mellanox and Micron. have made strong contributions to Supercomputer technology. 

How does this position OpenPOWER against the competition?  As we have seen, the key competitors at the high-end are Intel -based and Cray. Cray’s niche at the high end is not in a volume growth position. Intel is competitive across the entire space. Power’s RISC based architecture is its key advantage versus Intel.  The architecture was designed to allow hardware optimization [4]. Intel’s older, CISC-based X86 architecture carries a lot of baggage as part of its PC heritage.  A second Power advantage, Intel[5] has apparently been locked out of future supercomputers that may be constructed in China. As mentioned, Chinese companies can build Power-based chips and servers, something now no longer possible for Intel.

In summary, OpenPOWER begins with a strong, established position in the Supercomputer space. It can build on this momentum. In combination with the intellectual property of foundation members should easily give future products an advantage over the closed, proprietary systems they must compete with.

[1] See  and
[4]The first modern RISC system , the IBM 801,was  developed by John Cocke at IBM. See  for a discussion.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Moving ahead with Linux and Open Systems

By Rich Ptak/Bill Moran

IT staffs tend to love technology; it’s who they are. They want access to the latest technology to learn how it can be used. But outside IT, not so much. Other parts of the organization tend to focus on achieving financial, operational, performance and service delivery goals, not using technology just for its own sake. Career prospects for those perceived as pure technologists can be dim. It is also true that creating new business opportunities with technological enhancements and propositions can change that. Unfortunately, more often, the introduction of new technologies is delayed, which is not good for the individual in IT or for the organization as a whole, especially in today’s world.

Why? Simply put, it’s an explosion in the application of technology that is upending traditional business/organizational operational models which drives much of today’s success. Mobile, Big Data, IoT, open systems, etc. combine with global competition to make the data center critical to the successful resolution of 21st Century problems. It is increasingly evident that the acquisition and implementation of new technology is justified on the value it delivers to the organization.

This isn’t hype. At the recent OpenPOWER Foundation Summit[1], an international mix of technology leaders and executives from more than 113 high tech organizations told story after story of how fast-moving, innovative, and responsive IT staff in their data centers were driving organizational transformation and success. The payoff was in the solution to seemingly intractable problems in medicine, retail, research, telecommunications, mobile, etc. Driven by open-source software, led by Linux, and embodied in true open-source hardware and open systems, technical IT can exert a powerful influence as the key driver of business (enterprise) transformation.

How can you progress new technology and advance careers? One tactic is to identify a technology with a unique business value needed by your organization. An open systems example is POWER8 with Linux. A unique benefit is its ability to easily manipulate and manage very large data sets. Necessary if one is implementing applications that will generate, manipulate and analyze large amounts of data. POWER8 with Linux is a perfect fit (see examples in an upcoming blog[2]).

Become the person in your organization who identifies where a new technology’s unique features can deliver greater business value. For example, an application on Power8[3] with CAPI (an accelerator) can quickly analyze massive amounts of data to discover insights on an individual and use it to create messaging tailored to that specific user. You will need to reach out and demonstrate to the business or the operational side of the company how they benefit directly. Identify what problems are solved, e.g. improved user experience, more timely reporting, better decision making, etc. You may want to form cooperative partnerships with other groups to identify more opportunities. Being identified as the one who can leverage technology to gain a business or competitive advantage will make it easier to justify new technology and benefit your career.

[3] For more on Power8 go to  and download the PDF or EPUB, skip to the Architecture and Technical Overview section. Power8 material starts on page 28. The early parts of this book cover many configuration details about the IBM Power Systems S812L and S822L of interest when configuring a system. CAPI (Coherent Accelerator Processor Interface), a key hardware innovation in Power8 is described beginning on page 35.