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Live From IBM Pulse 2013: Day 2 General Session — IBM Tivoli Customers Share Their Best Practices

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Several prominent IBM Tivoli clients joined IBM senior vice president Robert Leblanc at the IBM Pulse 2013 day two general session to discuss their asset and infrastructure management best practices on the MGM Grand Arena stage.

Several prominent IBM Tivoli clients joined IBM senior vice president Robert Leblanc at the IBM Pulse 2013 day two general session to discuss their asset and infrastructure management best practices on the MGM Grand Arena stage.

If you missed Carrie Underwood last evening in the MGM Grand Arena, well…I’m sorry.

Actually, I’d find it difficult to believe anyone from IBM Pulse missed Carrie Underwood, as the place was packed to the rafters, and Carrie did not disappoint.

In fact, quite the opposite…and judging from the line waiting to get in that stretched all the way back to the MGM hotel elevators, well, let’s just say expectations were high.

And as we move into Pulse 2013 Day Two, we should maintain those high expectations, because it was clear from this morning’s keynote customer interview led by IBM senior vice president Robert Leblanc that today’s focus would be on highlighting best practices in building and maintaining smart infrastructures.

IBM vice president Scott Hebner first kicked the session off, explaining IBM’s continued commitment to open standards (see yesterday’s announcement about IBM’s commitment to using OpenStack), explaining that “Just as standards helped us realize the promise of e-business over the last decade, I think the same is going to occur with respect to cloud computing.”

Scott also encountered an amusing “blue screen of cloud death” moment, where all systems failed, spinning umbrellas appeared on screen (and in the audience), and colorful chaos people appeared from offstage.

An amusing moment, but one with an underlined headline of warning: Thou who doth go too far forward building on proprietary platforms may findeth one’s business in cloud computing chaos!

Scott next handed the baton to Robert Leblanc, and it was time now for Robert to introduce a range of IBM Tivoli clients operating in a garden variety of industries: Steve Caniano, Vice President, Hosting, Applications, and Cloud Computing with AT&T; Robert Pierce, Assistant Vice President, Information Services, Carolina Healthcare; Eduardo Bustamante, Director of Systems and Telecommunications, Port of Cartagena; and Tony Spinelli, Chief Security Officer, Equifax.

First, he cleared the decks and set up the big picture: Technology is now the number one issue for CEOs, as they recognize it could make or break their success. Big data, mobile, and cloud loom over the horizon as competitive differentiating technologies, and, increasingly, are table stakes.

Security is more of a risk, but going on the offensive beats succumbing to the nastiness of the defensive (read the cyber security headlines lately?).

And yet…and here was the key point of the best practices session…only one in five CEOs feel they have a highly efficient IT infrastructure, one that’s versatile and dynamic and can adapt to the ever-changing whims of an admittedly volatile marketplace.

And Robert delivered more bad news (admittedly, he did so with a smile): 70 percent of CIOs lack proper visibility into their cloud systems, 78 percent are NOT using mobile device management, and 53 percent lack the proper automation of securing their assets.

Oh, and only one in ten feel they have the skills and capabilities they require.

Robert asked each of the IT executives about their respective environments and challenges.

Steve from AT&T observed that “cloud computing is a team game” but that “hybrid types of solutions needed to be deployed,” and he explained AT&T’s partnership with IBM had been key in this regard.

Robert with Carolina Healthcare explained in the field of medicine that “mobility has become a key differentiator” and that the new doctors coming up “expect robust information technology services” or else they’ll find someone else’s hospital to work at.

He went on to explain that Carolina had begun to use IBM’s Endpoint Manager to manage some 38,000 desktops, laptops, iPads and iPhones.

Eduardo had a different set of challenges, operating in a much more “physical” realm in using IT services to better orchestrate the cacophony of trains, cranes, and other moveable assets.  He indicated the Port of Cartagena is implementing RFID in concert with IBM Maximo technologies to better manage and move those assets efficiently around the port, and in the process, adding a layer of analytics to allow for continuous improvement of that physical instrumentation.

And Tony with Equifax got a laugh from the audience when he started by stating that “Everyone in this audience wants me to do a great job,” acknowledging the company has and must protect the information of individuals and businesses around the globe.

He suggested companies need to move beyond simply “naming the bad actors” in the security intrusion front, and instead move to “better understand those bad actor’s strategies and tactics” so they can better prioritize, respond to, and yes, even prevent those incidences from occurring in the first place, something Equifax is doing through the implementation of improved security intelligence using IBM QRadar technology.

“By having better security intelligence on the battlefield,” Tony explained, “you’re better prepared.”

“Not all assets are created equally,” he explained, speaking, of course, for Equifax, but acknowledging a much broader theme and challenge to the gathered IBM Pulse crowd.

Live From IBM Pulse 2013: Dr. Danny Sabbah — The Internet Is The Computer

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Danny Sabbah

Dr. Danny Sabbah, CTO and general manager for IBM Next Generation Architecture, extols on the promise and virtues of the nexus between “systems of engagement” and “systems of record” at the opening general session of IBM Pulse 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada, earlier today.

Welcome to the world of the hybrid cloud and legacy application environment, a merger of the front office and the back, the nexus of the burgeoning mobile and social milieu (the “systems of engagement”) with the systems of record.

This was the key message delivered in the opening general session of IBM Pulse 2013 here at the almost packed MGM Grand Garden arena here in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The opening itself was another kind of hybrid, one that featured a number of skilled percussionists drumming in the key messages of the challenges and opportunities facing IT organizations around the globe.

Speed is a constant.  Change is a constant.  Declining budgets are a constant.  What’s the variable?

The opportunity to create new kinds of value for the organization by better fusing business assets, facilities, infrastructure, and data into a seamless and holistic view of the entire operation, one whereby you help your organization better gain increased visibility, control, and automation.

In short, to move from being a cost center to a center of strategic business innovation, and to turn opportunities into outcomes.

Are you prepared to take on this new challenge?

IBM Tivoli marketing guru Scott Hebner entered the stage to set the stage for IBM Pulse 2013, explaining there were 8,000+ attendees from over 80 countries around the globe, and that the depth and breadth and diversity of experience in this room (and we’re talking about a pretty big room…like, as in, Carrie Underwood will be playing this room for Pulse this evening) was unprecedented.

Scott started his opening by asking a few key questions of the gathered infrastructure management faithful: Where does an infrastructure begin and where does it end?  How do we make it become more interconnected and instrumented so we can garner more value from existing assets?

Scott explained that we’re all sitting on a staggering amount of operational data, both animate and inanimate — and not just in the traditional data center, either.  In your tractors.  Your warehouses.  Your office buildings.

And this “operational big data” residing in all those assets is an enormous opportunity, one that allows us to better understand the “exact condition of everything in real-time.” Which means also extracting new value from those assets and, hence, being able to then provide better services to our organizations and users.

But the climbing of this new mountain of data has its challenges.  For one, skills.  IDC expects 7 million new cloud computing positions to come online, 6X that over the rest of IT employment.  That means new skills, new training, new…students.

Which is one of the primary reasons we’re all gathered here in Lost Wages, to come together and learn from the experts and one another, to improve the economics of IT, and to uncover those growth opportunities.

Scott introduced a customer who flew all the way here from down under, in Melbourne, Australia, to share their experience in this new frontier of computing.

Neal Roberts, the CIO of Yarra Trams, is part of a team that oversees the largest tram network in the world, one with 250 kilometers of track and nearly 500 tram cars that travel some 185 million track miles per year!

First, Yarra’s values, which help drive both the team and the trams: Think like a passenger, do Zero harm, and provide Continuous Improvement.

The first two are pretty self-evident, but the third, continuous improvement, takes some concerted and coordinated effort and a lot of hard work.

That coordination increasingly takes place between the line of business and IT organizations.  And Mr. Roberts explained that “We’re all facing the same challenges. Trying to manage the velocity of change, and to become centers of innovation while reinventing the customer relationship.”

For Yarra, that meant driving a symbiosis of asset management and location information, the so-called systems of record, with the real-time notification opportunities of social media data.

It goes a little something like this: The rains come, puts a tram out of service when it gets flooded, the operations center is notified, the operations center schedules a dispatch to fix the train, the schedule is altered, data is streamed to the public cloud (including a mobile app for tram users) to notify them automagically the train schedule has been disrupted/altered, the tram eventually gets fixed, all goes back to normal.

Yarra Tram

Yarra Tram of Melbourne, Australia, uses IBM Maximo asset management technology to bridge to “systems of engagement” and inform Melbourne citizens when trams are out of service so they can make other arrangement.s

No problem, the trams are back to running on time.

Dr. Danny Sabbah, CTO and general manager of IBM Next Generation Platforms, picked it up from there.

Dr. Sabbah observed that we are truly at an inflection point, and that since last year, the key themes which emerged around securing the cloud, mobile, and embedded solutions, have only become more important, and that we’re now seeing this increased integration of public cloud data and the existing services.

That is again the important nexus to focus on, because it is from that nexus that we’ll see increasing value unlocked by organizations around the globe, and it’s a new stage in the evolution of technology and the importance of data.

Dr. Sabbah included a key example: Mobile devices are anticipated to account for 40% of access to all kinds of business applications in the next few years.

And as a result of this, big data is joining mobile and cloud as the next must have competency.

“Devices are becoming more intelligent and communicating even more data,” Sabbah continued, and we’re getting “smart buildings, smart grids, and smarter healthcare. None of these are operating in isolated silos.”

“The convergence of these technologies,” he explained, “is driving the Internet of things.”

And yet intelligent interconnection and instrumentation is making it increasingly hard to balance efficiency and innovation. Sabbah explained, “The drive for innovation drives a commensurate need for technology optimization” and that optimization is what helps free up finite IT resources for focusing on innovation.

That is also another reason IBM has put so much muscle behind its PureSystems line of technology, with the express intention of freeing up people, time, and money from mundane operational tasks of server administration, data routines, etc., so they can work on value added projects!

The new cloud and mobile-based “systems of engagement” spoken of earlier, along with the systems of record from the past 40 years of computing, aren’t going away, and in fact, the opportunity for these systems to interact and interoperate extracts new value.  But that requires flexibility (read: openness) in their infrastructure design, because different workloads are coming together — some require new levels of optimization, others new levels of maintenance, and some towards speed of delivery.

But, ultimately, flexible architectures allow us to mash up new services, so that those organizations who build flexibility into their infrastructure DNA are those “most poised to win.”

Getting there will require rapid iteration and the continued “reduction of confused and conflicting infrastructure and software.”

“It’s not the network that’s the computer,” Sabbah wound down.  “It’s the Internet that’s the computer.”

Live From IBM Pulse 2013: A Day For Partners

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Turbo starts his IBM Pulse 2013 experience with a quick trip down golf, and "Rat Pack", history by playing a round at the renowned Las Vegas National golf course, one of the courses where Tiger Woods won his first PGA tournament victory in 1996. For the record, Turbo held his own, shooting an 84 (but convinced he could have gone lower if the greens had held).

Turbo starts his IBM Pulse 2013 experience with a quick trip down golf, and “Rat Pack”, history by playing a round at the renowned Las Vegas National golf course, one of the courses where Tiger Woods won his first PGA tournament victory in 1996. For the record, Turbo held his own, shooting an 84 (but convinced he could have gone lower if the greens had held).

Good morning, Las Vegas.

You know, I joke about Vegas as my second home, but I really do have to admit, it’s a city that continues to grow on me.

And I’m sure that couldn’t have *anything* to do with the delightful, if dreadfully slow, round of golf I played yesterday at Las Vegas National.

As I mentioned in a post on Friday, this is the very same course (one of three) where Tiger Woods won his first PGA Tour event, the Las Vegas Invitational, back in 1996 (he beat Davis Love III on the first playoff hole to win).

It’s also where Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., and others of the infamous “Rat Pack” used to hang out. I was only fifty years late on that front, but nonetheless, I did experience the course in all it’s glory and managed to pull of an 84. Considering Tiger’s 70 in 1996, I figure I was only .77 strokes a hole behind Tiger.

But enough sports analytics, because now all the play is behind me as I get down to work and the matter at hand, IBM Pulse 2013.

Please see my last post for some tips and tricks for navigating this year’s event (oh, did I mention, bring or go buy some comfortable shoes)?

I made my first navigation from the MGM hotel to the Convention Center this morning, and on the way, saw the now annual Burma Shave-like signs reminding us “we’re almost there!”

My favorite: Multitasking is all about doing several things badly all at once (There will be more of those tidbits of wisdom to come in future posts.)

Amen, oh great IBM Tivoli Confucian hallway philosopher!

Of course, this ain’t no Blazing Saddles shindig, so you actually *do* need a stinkin’ badge.

So, I picked mine up and wandered on into the Pulse Business Partner Summit to break a little fast, and chat with some of our partners.

When the lights went down, IBM Tivoli general manager soon hit the stage to “introduce” himself to the gathered wall-to-wall audience.

And it was quite an introduction.  I’ve interviewed Deepak a few times now at IBM events, and even I had no idea of his depth of experience at IBM.

He explained he’s once been a UNIX programmer and helped bring TCP/IP to the mainframe, had worked on the SP2 supercomputer that once upon a time outwitted a Soviet chess superpower, and helped implement a number of key high availability and systems management capabilities into IBM’s mainframe line.

More recently, Deepak was the chief marketing officer for Lenovo before returning to the IBM fold to lead our Business Analytics efforts and oversee the acquisition of SPSS.

Deepak warmed the audience to him with a very funny story about having been representing IBM with its new supercomputer at a conference in frigid Rochester. Apparently, the IBM computer was very plain and vanilla looking, and so the competition started making fun of it.

Deepak and his team decided to run out to Wal-Mart and purchase some Christmas lights, which they promptly wrapped around their supercomputer (turned out IBM had the fastest supercomputer, Christmas lights and all).

IBM Tivoli general manager Deepak Advani opens the Tivoli Business Partner Summit by introducing himself to the Tivoli crowd and explaining the depth and breadth of his background, which began as a UNIX systems programmer and shell script author back in the day. Advani now leads the IBM Tivoli organization worldwide, and will be featured prominently throughout IBM Pulse 2013.

IBM Tivoli general manager Deepak Advani opens the Tivoli Business Partner Summit by introducing himself to the Tivoli crowd and explaining the depth and breadth of his background, which began as a UNIX systems programmer and shell script author back in the day. Advani now leads the IBM Tivoli organization worldwide, and will be featured prominently throughout IBM Pulse 2013.

After establishing his background and bona fides, Deepak got down to business, reaffirming the critical importance of IBM’s partners to the Tivoli and broader IBM business, but explaining none of us in the ecosystem could rest on our laurels.

“We must bring more industry and domain expertise” into our technologies, Deepak asserted, “and we must also bring our line of business and IT audiences more closely together.”

This, of course, observing a theme pervasive within IBM since CEO Ginni Rometty took the helm: We must focus more on our line of business executives.

From CMO to CFO, they are increasingly involved in the IT decision-making process, and the back office has moved to the front, requiring a more collaborative “sell” for both constituencies.

Deepak also acknowledged the pain IT organizations felt these last several years, and explained that’s why IBM has worked to try and free them from operational matters with technologies like PureSystems, so that they can spend more time working with their LOB partners on innovation.

Finally, Deepak walked the audience through a number of key core and growth priorities, ranking among them the continued focus on mainframe and storage evolution, the importance of standars, and looking forward to growth areas like endpoint management and cloud computing.

He talked specifically about the notion of the “portability of workloads,” explain how IBM has taken patterns from PureSystems and moving them to the cloud. (A line of questioning I aspire to take up in my interview tomorrow on the Livestream stage with PureSystems’ Nancy Pearson and Jason Gartner.)

He also tiptoed through the world of “dev-ops,” with specific regard to managing the life cycles of applications.

Finally, Deepak explained we can do more to improve the design and usability of our portfolio, and also use analytics (his old job!) to improve and make better operational decisions.

Pulse 2013 is underway…hold on to your console!

Building A Smarter Home

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One of the memes that seems to be jutting out from the first hours of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas centers around this notion of the “Smarter Home,” and IBM has jumped in head first.

Earlier today, IBM, STMicroelectronics, and Shaspa announced a collaboration to tap cloud and mobile computing for manufacturers and service providers to provide innovative ways for consumers to manage and interact with their homes’ functions and entertainment systems using multiple user interfaces such as voice recognition and physical gestures for a smarter home.

Yes, it looks as though we’ll finally be able to do something more productive with our appliances and air conditioning systems than simply yell at them!

A “smart home” brings networking functions together, creating a gateway that connects a television, computer or mobile device with smart meters, lights, appliances, plugs and sensors within the home as well as services from outside. Parks Associates forecasts that more than 8 billion devices will be connected on the home network by year-end 2015.

In Las Vegas this week during CES, the three companies mentioned will demonstrate a TV linked to ST’s Home Gateway, running software from business partner Shaspa, and connected to the IBM cloud.

Through sensors, the system can monitor home parameters such as temperature, carbon dioxide level through a wireless or batteryless IPv6 network, or human motion within the home. The data can be communicated to a smartphone or tablet via a wireless router. I

n this way, the homeowner can offload much of the home management to the cloud and interact with the system using event and time-based preset scenarios.

The companies anticipate that this initiative could allow consumers to use any device capable of running apps to manage a variety of personal activities such as viewing their home’s energy consumption; controlling security, heating and lighting systems; activating home appliances such as washing machines; monitoring health and assisted living conditions; or engaging in e-commerce.

Sony Bravia, Let The Pizza Guy In!

For example, a person with limited mobility could gesture to the TV to unlock the front door, turn up the heat or check vital signs. This project represents the future of electronics technology as sensing devices and equipment seamlessly respond to user needs and requests, emulating the way humans sense their environment.

In this project, ST’s Home Gateway and Shaspa’s embedded software acts as a bridge between the home and cloud services provided by the IBM SmartCloud Service Delivery Platform, which gives electronics manufacturers a cloud platform to manage smart devices and rapidly introduce new consumer services.

The gateway, based on a STiH416, provides the physical connectivity, provisioning and management middleware, application protocols, and interfaces for connecting and controlling the “Internet of Things.” The connected-home System-on-Chip runs software including Linux and a service management system compliant with the OSGi industry standard.

The infrastructure for the gateway-cloud service operation is provided by Shaspa’s GUI and application software.

Going Mobile In Your Living Room

IBM Worklight, in combination with the Mobile Interface of the Shaspa embedded software, is the mobile application platform that enables end users to control and manage their homes from their personal devices. The mobile platform is used to build the application, connect the app to all the sensors within the home, and manage all events that take place.

IBM software such as MQ Series and Worklight helps transmit the data to mobile devices. Data captured in the cloud supports the discovery of new insights through advanced analytics.

“Smarter buildings are an essential part of the journey towards a sustainable world, and this building-to-cloud system shows that connected living is becoming possible today,” said Oliver Goh, Founder & CEO of Shaspa. “This secure, scalable offering with be the enabler for ecosystems, enabling the fast creation and deployment of value-add services.”

The idea of an intelligent home that uses technology to enhance the lives of its occupants is far from new; in fact, it was a major theme in the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair. We are now in a position to realize the intelligent-home dream with systems that feature scalability, interoperability and security built-in from the start. This requires collaborations among leading players across the ecosystem.

The demo will be shown at two venues near the Las Vegas Convention Center: A private, invitation-only suite at The Encore Hotel (ST) and The Venetian, exhibit meeting room 2405 (IBM).

About IBM Cloud and Mobile Computing
Mobility is fundamentally transforming the way people live, work, play and make decisions. As the first new technology platform for business to emerge since the advent of the World Wide Web, mobile computing represents one of the greatest opportunities facing organizations.

With an array of solutions that connect, secure, manage and develop the networks, infrastructure and applications that run the growing number of devices. IBM is enabling governments and industries to reinvent their business and reach customers, employees, partners and other constituents in completely new ways.

You can learn more about IBM’s Mobile Enterprise solutions here.

IBM has also helped thousands of clients adopt cloud models and manages millions of cloud based transactions every day. IBM assists clients in areas as diverse as banking, communications, healthcare and government to build their own clouds or securely tap into IBM cloud-based business and infrastructure services.

IBM is unique in bringing together key cloud technologies, deep process knowledge, a broad portfolio of cloud solutions, and a network of global delivery centers. For more information about IBM cloud solutions, visit www.ibm.com/smartcloud. Follow on Twitter @cloudchat and on our blog at www.thoughtsoncloud.com.

The SMB IT Spending Zeitgeist

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In Spiceworks' "State of SMB IT 2H 2012" survey, mobile is moving on up. Tablets continue to grow in SMBs and in the last 6 months, adoption has tipped to over half (53%) of SMBs supporting tablets on their networks.  The number of companies supporting tablets (53%) is on the verge of reaching the 59% of companies who manage smartphones on their networks.  Larger organizations are driving this trend towards more tablets in the workplace.

Click to enlarge. In Spiceworks’ “State of SMB IT 2H 2012″ survey, mobile is moving on up. Tablets continue to grow in SMBs and in the last 6 months, adoption has tipped to over half (53%) of SMBs supporting tablets on their networks. The number of companies supporting tablets (53%) is on the verge of reaching the 59% of
companies who manage smartphones on their networks. Larger organizations are driving this trend towards more tablets in the workplace.

It’s that time of year.  Google has released its 2012 Zeitgeist, telling us what’s on the minds of the world’s searchers.

Facebook, not to be out done, has released the Facebook Year In Review, “a look back at the people, moments and things that created the most buzz in 2012 among the billion people around the world on Facebook.”

Now, go and ask folks what they think about Facebook’s everchanging privacy controls, and we’ll see if the Facebook Year In Review gets soon revised.

But I’m actually more interested in a big report from a small, but growing networking software and social business upstart located right here in Austin, Texas.

Spiceworks connects 2.2 million IT professionals with more than 1,300 technology brands, and offers its IT management software through a novel ad-supported model. In turn, it claims to “help businesses to discover, buy and manage $405 billion worth of technology products and services each year.”

Spiceworks just released its semi-annual “State of SMB IT Report,” a collection of statistics, trends and opinions from small and medium business technology professionals from amongst their community.

This December’s study is the seventh edition, and claims to “keep the pulse on the happenings of small and medium business IT professionals and IT departments.”

First, I’m just happy to discover they still have a pulse.

The National Federation of Independent Business’ “Small Business Optimism Index,” which is reported monthly, indicated in its November report one of the steepest declines in its history. In fact, it has reported a lower index value only seven times since it first conducted its monthly surveys in 1986.

The Index dropped a full 5.6 points in November, bottoming out at 87.5 (In 2000, by juxtaposition, it was well above 100), indicating something was rotten in November. The Index’s own Web statement suggested “it is very clear that a stunning number of [small business] owners…expect worse business conditions in six months,” and that nearly half are certain things will be worse next year than they are now, with a head nod to the looming fiscal cliff talks, the promise of higher healthcare costs, and the “endless onslaught of new regulations.”

Chicken Little, the SMB sky is falling!

Clouds, Virtualization, And Tablets Are Driving The SMB IT Spending Bus

But fear not, the SMB adoption of new technology is riding to the small business rescue, or so suggests the Spiceworks SMB IT study.

The headlines? Though IT budgets are on the rise in the SMB, hiring new staff is at a standstill. But for those still standing, in the last six months, SMBs adopted tablets and cloud services in fast-growing numbers.

Here are the four key findings:

  • Tablet adoption keeps its momentum and nears smartphone levels. Hardware maintains the lion’s share of IT spend in the SMB.
  • Adoption of cloud services spikes; desktop virtualization shows strong potential. (Can you say “Go long on VMWare??”)
  • IT budgets reached their highest point in the last three years, while hiring freezes are up.
  • BYOD is still a hot topic, though IT pros are split on the issue.

Diving down a bit, on the subject of tablets, 53 percent of SMBs now support tablets on their network, making them almost as popular as smartphones at 59 percent.

Cloud services are now used by 62 percent of SMBs, up from 48 percent in the first half of 2012.

With respect to IT budgets, they’re on the rise, averaging $162K, up from $152K in 1H 2012. But only 26 percent plan on hiring IT staff in the second half.

And on BYOD, whlie 14 percent fully embrace the trend, 32 percent say it works well for some devices, but not for others. Digging deeper, I discovered that smartphones led with 81 percent BYOD support, while tablets only garnered 62 percent.

And somewhat ironically, there’s more support for BYOD in much smaller organizations (defined here as less than 20 employees) than larger ones (50 percent in those above 250 employees).

I would encourage you to go here and register to download the full report, but the top line is this: If you’re an IT vendor looking for budget flush at the end of 2012, desktops, laptops, and servers are certainly low-hanging fruit, with tablets bringing on the most growth.

And on the software front, be on the lookout for disaster recovery and storage solutions (an IT mainstay through downturns), cloud-based solutions, and virtualization software.

Whatever you do make, just make sure you make those new purchases with “Gangnam Style” — and if you have no idea of what I’m referring to, see above with regards to the 2012 Google Zeitgeist!

Live @ IBM InterConnect 2012: IBM’s Steve Mills On Big Data, Smaller IT

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After months of build up and market anticipation, the IBM InterConnect event got kick started here at Royal Sentosa Resorts on Sentosa Island in Singapore, and after a quick introduction by IBM growth markets executive, John Dunderdale, IBM senior vice president Steve Mills hit the stage and outlined the core value proposition behind the event and, more broadly, behind IT circa 2012.

IBM senior vice president Steve Mills explains to the gathered IBM InterConnect 2012 audience in Singapore Tuesday morning the immense opportunity and value that a reconsidered IT investment strategy presents for its customers around the globe.

“We know all of you involved in running businesses are challenged with delivering outcome and results,” said Mills. “We clearly love technology, but the end goal is improving your business and business model.”

Delivering real, discernible business outcomes.  IT as a means to an end, not an end in and of itself.

Mills’ talk, entitled “Smarter Planet Solutions increasing Demands of IT,” then went on to explain and support that core thesis for the next 40 minutes, along the way sharing some eye-opening sound bytes and anecdotes.

Mills indicated that the IBM InterConnect event was designed “to give you more insight and more contacts and relationships that you can take advantage of to support your businesses.”

So yes, there would be plenty of best practices and lessons learned to come, but this convocation was also an opportunity to share and network with your peers and colleagues.

Information Technology: A Transformative Tool Of The Past 60 Years

Then Mills began to provide a big picture backdrop of IT, explaining that “technology is the transformative tool of the last 60 years, and no tool has ever done so much for humans as IT.”

But, Mills warned, we humans “sometimes get out ahead of ourselves,” and we become enraptured with the tools instead of focusing on what we can do with those tools.

The core questions, Mills went on to explain, that IT and business executives everywhere should be asking themselves is, “How do I use IT effectively, and at a price my business can afford, and in a way I can measure those discernible outcomes?”

Anything else, my own thought bubble indicated, is nothing more than snake oil off the back of a covered wagon!

Mills then went on to explain the specifics behind the IT challenge.  More servers, more users, more scenarios…more everything except, perhaps, more money and people!

Moving Away From Mundane Administration And Towards Increased Business Value And Innovation

And therein lies the core of the issue.  So much technology requires management and administration and focus by humans.  And yet, oftentimes we’re not even making full use of the IT we have.

By way of example: There are an estimated 32.6 million servers worldwide, but 85 percent of them are often idle, and 15 percent run 24/7 without being actively used.

They’re also energy hogs — data centers alone have doubled the energy use in the past five years, and most expect an 18 percent increase moving forward in data center energy costs.

And all the numbers trend upwards, Mills noted: Between 2000 and 2010, servers grew 6X and storage 69X, so if what’s past is prologue…

But it’s not even just that, all the growth we’ve witnessed in IT hardware and software. All of this has a cumulative effect — it’s not simply the money you spent in the current year, but in ALL the investments you’ve made over an extended period of time.

IBM senior vice president Steve Mills explained to the IBM InterConnect audience in Singapore earlier today the opportunity for organizations around the globe to break through the IT budget and resource barrier and realize new business insights and outcomes through an increased focus on innovation.

Though IT has been a big labor saver on the one hand, it’s also been a very expensive proposition in that it requires new skills and labor to manage. And that was another core point of Mill’s argument, that that labor cost has grown to a size to where we need to bring the overhead down while striving to increase the value IT delivers.

An Explosion Of Big Data…And Big Insights!

Mills went on to note there’s also been an explosion of data and information.  Google alone processes 24 petabytes of data in a single day, the New York Stock Exchange 1 terabyte of trading data in a single session.

What if…you could apply intelligent analysis to all that information, with an eye towards being more predictive…what if…you could be just 20 minutes ahead of your time…then what could you do???

Finding patterns in data that a single mind could never see, but with the right computing capacity…

So, both burden and opportunity, and this IT overload presents a management challenge — businesses want to be able to do more with what data they have, but they’re uncertain if they’re really getting to what the analysis could actually bring them.

Now, to the actual economics: IT operating costs were expected to have grown from $100 billion in 1996 to an estimated $217 billion in 2012, a trend NOT going in the right direction.

But as Mills explained, “The more servers you have the more servers you have to feed.”  Yet that spend on mundane tasks like server administration means you have to rob Innovation Peter to pay Administrivia Paul.

All that sprawl, Mills detailed, means costs to manage growth of inventory consumes the IT budget, and in turn, only 1 in 5 organizations are able to allocate more than half their IT budgets to drive innovation.

As it is, 23 percent of new IT projects deploy late, and 55 percent experience application downtime for major infrastructure upgrades once deployed. Top causes of project delays include troubleshooting and tuning production environments (45%), and integration, configuration and testing of applications (41%).

To add insult to injury, security incidents add an additional layer of complexity and frustration here: The average cost per data breach in 2011 was $3 million, figured in terms of lost customer loyalty.

These, Mills concluded, are the challenges that lay before you, the global IT audience.

Through the remainder of the event, and via several announcements emerging this week in Singapore, Mills suggested IBM would aspire to play a key role in helping clients address the velocity of change in business and IT, and help them redouble their efforts to garner those desired business outcomes.

IBM To Acquire Flash Memory Provider Texas Memory Systems

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IBM announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Texas Memory Systems (TMS), a leading developer of high-performance flash memory solutions.

TMS is a privately held company based in Houston, Texas. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Founded in 1978, TMS designs and sells high-performance solid state storage solutions. Unlike hard disk drives that rely on spinning disks and robotic arms, solid state systems are high-speed data storage solutions based on flash or RAM memory that can provide significantly faster throughput and data access while consuming less power.

TMS offers its solid state solutions as the RamSan family of shared rackmount systems and Peripheral Component Interconnect Express (PCIe) cards.

The products are designed to help companies improve performance and reduce server sprawl, power consumption, cooling, and floor space requirements, all of which in turn can help clients save money, improve performance and invest more in innovation.

IDC estimates the amount of solid state storage solutions being shipped into the enterprise will grow significantly, reaching nearly 3 exabytes by 2016.

“The TMS strategy and solution set align well with our Smarter Computing approach to information technology by helping clients realize increased performance and efficiencies at lower costs,” said Brian Truskowski, general manager, Systems Storage and Networking, IBM. “Solid state technology, in particular, is a critical component of our new Smarter Storage approach to the design and deployment of storage infrastructures, and part of a holistic approach that exploits flash in conjunction with disk and tape technologies to solve complex problems.”

Following acquisition close, IBM plans to invest in and support the TMS product portfolio, and will look to integrate over time TMS technologies into a variety of solutions including storage, servers, software, and PureSystems offerings.

TMS employs approximately 100 people. The deal is expected to close later in 2012.

Written by turbotodd

August 16, 2012 at 6:13 pm

The Blackout In India

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To my friends in India, I hope you’re fairly weathering your blackout.

I was just reading through some BBC coverage which has reporters spread across northern India, including Utter Pradesh, Delhi, Rajasthan, and West Bengal.

The report suggests Calcutta was not as badly affected as other regions, because it has a private electricity board, but that power went out across the rest of West Bengal state.

Thus far, coverage suggests the power breakdowns in India are mainly in the north, the east, and the northeast, and that about 600 million people have been in affected in over 20 Indian states.

To put that in perspective for those of us here in the west, that would be like the power going out across all of the U.S. and all of the United Kingdom, at once.

Yes, just imagine that.

Obviously, there will be lots of fingerpointing until an investigation can get to the bottom of this, but in the meantime it demonstrates once again how fragile infrastructure can be, in both emerging and advanced economies.

In the Northeast blackout of 2003 here in the U.S., some 55 million U.S and Canadian citizens were impacted and some left without power for up to 16 hours.

Though there was no major civil unrest during that particular blackout, one need simply just read the Wikipedia entry of that event to remember how many “systems” were impacted: everything from transportation to healthcare to water supply.

In India, telecommunications are being particularly hard hit in this outage, because so many people there depend on mobile phone service for their communications.  Even if the cell towers have backup generators, many folks in rural India have no alternative method of recharging their cell phones once that primary charge dissipates.

Also, business process outsourcing companies such as Wipro, Genpact, WNS and others have “kicked in business continuity plans” to ensure continuity of services to global clients. Thus far, The Hindu Business Line is reporting that the IT-BPO industry, which accounts for over 7% of Indian GDP, are running their operations at centers in the north and eastern India using backup generators running on diesel.

The Wall Street Journal India has an “IndiaRealTime” blog where you can follow the latest on the India power outage.

Softer Networking

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The Turbo radar sensed more disruption on the technology M&A front overnight.

Actually, it was my RSS feed reader, but hey, close enough for jazz.

VMWare, the virtualization technology provider owned by storage technology stalwart, EMC, bought Andreessen Horowitz-backed Nicira for $1.05 billion buckaroos.

Nicira is an open source software developer for network virtualization, and has been adopted by VMWare most likely for its development of “software defined data centers.”

Historically, data communications controls have been managed by proprietary software sold in combination with hardware (think Cisco, Juniper, etc.)

With Nicira, control functions are separated and moved down the stack, so to speak, so they can be run on a variety of servers and not just proprietary hardware.

According to Wall Street Journal’s coverage of the announcement, VMWare CEO Paul Maritz “predicts that nearly all of the hardware in current computer rooms will be replaced by software running on commodity-style servers.”

The software-defined data center. Veddy interesting.

It’ll be even more interesting to see how Cisco and the other networking hardware vendors respond…or not.

Written by turbotodd

July 24, 2012 at 3:08 pm

CNBC: Texas’ Is the 2012 “Top State For Business”

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I turned on CNBC this afternoon to catch up on business news just in time to see Texas governor Rick Perry doing a standup interview over at the University of Texas to celebrate Texas’ being chosen for the third time in the past several years as the “America’s Top State for Business.”

According to CNBC’s Scott Cohn, Texas “racked up an impressive 1,604 points out of a possible 2,500,” and had top-10 finishes in “six of our 10 categories of competitiveness.”

Texas has never finished below second place since CNBC started the study in 2007.

This year’s categories, developed in concert with the National Association of Manufacturers and the Council on Competitiveness, included the following: “Cost of Doing Business,” “Workforce,” “Quality of Life,” “Infrastructure and Transportation,” “Economy,” “Education,” “Technology and Innovation,” “Business Friendliness,” “Access to Capital,” and “Cost of Living.”

Diving deeper into the results, Texas has the nation’s best “Infrastructure” and improved to second place for “Technology and Innovation,” and boasts the third lowest “Cost of Living.”

On the downside, Texas came in 26th in “Education” and 35th of “Quality of Life,” apparently getting dinged for less available health care and higher property and sales taxes.

Obviously, this is very exciting news here in Austin and across the state of Texas, especially considering the vast diversification we’ve seen of the Texas economy over the past decade.  When I was growing up in Texas, energy and oil dominated the economy, but we’ve seen massive investments and innovations in more diverse fields these past 20 years, including high tech, telecommunications, biotechnology and life sciences, health care, and many more, all in a business-friendly (read: less regulation and taxes) climate.

But we’ve still got some work to do, I would submit.

If you’re a person of little means, whatever else you do, don’t get sick here.  Texas is not expected to expand Medicaid or establish a health insurance exchange, according to another recent announcement by Governor Perry, and only 31 percent of physicians in Texas accepted Medicaid patients in 2011, according to the Texas Medical Association and as reported in the Texas Tribune.

So, congrats to the great state of Texas…I’m really glad to hear we’re doing a great job of taking care of business…but clearly there’s some work yet to be done in taking better care of our people!

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