Wednesday, June 10, 2015

IBM Edge2015 – Preparing IT for the future - I

By Rich Ptak

In mid-May, I joined some 6000 IBM customers, executives, IT staff and partners at Edge2015 in Las Vegas. The focus was on the strategies and demonstrating the benefits to customers and partners from the services, solutions, products provided by IBM’s newly integrated hardware-oriented business units.

This blog will be posted in two parts. The first focuses on the hardware platforms, Systems Group - Power Systems and – z Systems. The second covers Systems Group – Middleware and – Storage Systems & Software Designed Infrastructure. The second blog also includes general comments and our overall conclusions about the event. You can view that on The Technology Blog[1] at our website.

Edge2015 covered a lot more detailed topics including Services, Analytics, IoT, Cloud, Watson, etc. Limited time and space won’t allow them to be covered in this series.

Clearly evident were the results of a reorganization that pairs hardware with the ‘middleware’ software needed to deliver solutions.  IBM discussed its evolving tactics along with new and enhanced products and services aimed at enhancing the experiences of customers and clients. IBM emphasized two issues we found interesting and encouraging.

First, IBM emphasized their commitment to their somewhat controversial, clearly visionary and definitely bet-the-business strategic imperatives. These imperatives are intended to:
1.     Enable customers and clients to speed adoption and optimize benefits from business transformations made necessary by new and disruptive technologies, including, but not exclusively tied to DATA – CLOUD – ENGAGEMENT (customer, MOBILE, etc.).
2.     Drive delivery of differentiated value to and by clients in their effort to manage ‘hybrid’ environments of new and existing technologies to create and deliver competitive advantage in the form of optimized customer experiences.
3.     Exploit IBM’s extensive expertise to deliver higher value product and services to clients that enable the client to be innovative, agile and quick to create and evolve exceptional services, solutions and products to their own customers.

The wisdom of the strategy (combining vision with customer needs) was repeatedly on display in keynote presentations by and discussions (formal and informal) with numerous customers.

Secondly, we got the first substantive peek into the results of the massive reorganization begun last fall by CEO Gini Rometty. From a business operations perspective, IBM now presents itself to its customers and operates as an integrated solutions provider, organized to interact with them in the same way their customers consume IT products and solutions. No longer siloed, hardware platforms (cloud, storage, networking, z and Power Systems) are joined with the software that makes it function (WebSphere, Cloud & Smarter Infrastructure, operating systems and development, virtualization and cloud software/services) into a single organization. The Systems business unit gains a practical appreciation and understanding of what attracts partners, customers and clients.

This alone puts IBM ahead of the dated, siloed organization favored by most vendors. And, judging from customer conversations, the result is recognized and appreciated by customers.

Let’s take a look at what was talked about at the event.

Systems Group – Power

Doug Balog continues to lead the Power Systems business unit as it continues to grow and gather momentum by following a strategy based on implementation with an emphasis on three specific goals. These are:
1.     Designed for Big Data – new 4-socket Power E50, expand Power E880,  optimized solutions for data/analytics including SAP HANA;
2.     Provides Superior Cloud Economics – new Power in the cloud, “Pay as you go” & PurePower Systems = lower operating cost with stronger workload management & simplified app deployment;
3.     An Open Innovation Platform – that delivers the first truly open hardware and software platform with Little-Endian support that further increases Linux-app portability and has international appeal which is documented by the multiple new POWER System-based implementations OpenPOWER Foundation partners from multiple countries.

POWER8 growth and market acceptance is accelerating as evidenced in discussions with attendees, the speedy introduction of new systems and in the number of POWER8-based products emerging from OpenPOWER Foundation partners.

Delta Dental, ZTEsoft, Zato Health among others related how they use and benefit from the broad Linux support, CAPI and open access to the architecture. For example, Zato Health described how their POWER8/Linux solution provides rapid intelligent search and information extraction across multiple, different databases, handling both structured and unstructured data. University of Toronto and Delta, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Lawrence Livermore National Lab spoke to how POWER8 is used today and will have a significant role in future technologies.

Systems Group - z Systems

Ross Mauri is responsible for IBM’s z Systems as it expands further into global markets with new applications targeting and supporting delivery of solutions in such areas as enterprise mobile, in-line big Data analytics, cloud optimization and security intelligence.

The new z13 has enjoyed a faster pick-up than any previous mainframe. No small part of this popularity can be attributed to the 27% of systems sales running Linux on z. Today’s z Systems are designed to support digital business with the speed and scale required for the mobile economy to provide exceptional client experiences.

The mainframe supports mobile solutions and services to deliver insights with in-line analytics that speed improved decision-making while operating at and ensuring the highest levels of security and trust available in cloud environments. New price points, as well as alternative payment plans, increase the cost effectiveness of mainframe solutions. As they leave x86 server farms, customers are seeing up to 37% lower cost and faster processing when handling mobile transactions.

When Radix International moved from 400 servers to z System, they saw a 35% cut in TCO. Other IBM customers, including Caribbean Cruise Lines, WestJet and CenterPoint Energy described the mainframe’s cost-effective contribution to their success. Further documenting mainframe economics, Solitaire Interglobal reports that while running 68% of the world’s production workloads, mainframes account for only 6% of the world’s IT spend[2].


We believe IBM, its partners and customers convincingly demonstrated the wisdom of IBM’s vision and benefits derived from them. You can see more detailed comments and conclusions in the second half of this blog on our website.

[2] “IT Workload Deployment Percentages - 2014", , published in late 2014 by Solitaire Interglobal.