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PULSE 2013 – Platforms, Interfaces and Messaging for One IBM

Pulse 2013 with presentations, demos and breakout sessions for 8000+ attendees provided IBM executives, subject matter experts and clients opportunities to share knowledge, insight and data about IBM’s plans, products and experiences in support of their industry leading position. The unifying theme was “Optimizing the World’s Infrastructure” and based on our time there and our conversations with other attendees, it was time and effort well spent.

There is and will be plenty written1 about the announcements, products and strategies. Right now, we focus on a presentation by Danny Sabbah, CTO and GM for IBM’s Next Generation Platform. His task is to identify and chart a path to the next generation computing platforms. Here is his description of the challenges driving IT today.

Changes in information and communications technology (itself and in application), along with business operations is forcing an evolution in service delivery and consumption patterns. Competition and cost controls fuel demands for services to facilitate new business models and operational patterns. Enterprise staffs demand shorter times from service conception to delivery to implemented service. Responding to these is driving a speeded up evolution in and convergence of technologies such as intelligent devices, virtualization, Cloud, Big Data and accessible analytics. These are the drivers; Danny identified the
following impacts on IT.

First, a highly flexible infrastructure is necessary to succeed. The evolution and proliferation of intelligent devices, the mobility of experience and access to services, etc. will continue changing the relationship between infrastructure and services. Service creation, application development, deployment, support, access, even the nature of the infrastructure are changing in a world of mobile computing and fickle consumers. Infrastructure has to be able to adapt and adjust quickly to meet customer service
expectations or business is lost. Static environments fail.

Next, standards are critical to achieve and maintain flexibility, ease of access and consistency across platforms. Yes, standards have been around a long time, and EVERYONE embraces them as necessary, important, fundamental, etc.2 However, today’s environment requires a serious, multi-layered, structured approach to standards. Where they are conceived as a complete architecture applied from infrastructure through to service delivery and out of the data center. Participants include the vendor, as well as the consumer of services. This is an expensive, resource-intensive and critical task already underway. There were a number of sessions at Pulse 2013 devoted to describing that architecture, as well mapping how existing organizations are making progress at realizing the standards.

The growth in the Internet of Things (aka Internet of Everything3) is a challenge. The number and variety of devices connecting to the internet continues to explode. Intelligent systems are proliferating, and shifting faster than the infrastructure is evolving. This poses new challenges in assessing performance let alone optimizing it. The nature of interaction is also changing. Increasingly, the interface is machine to machine or device to device instead of human to human or human to machine. Leading to the next point.
Interface modalities are changing. Existing service and device presentation forms change dramatically as capabilities, processes and forms of interaction evolve. Visualization and presentation formats must adapt to speed comprehension and facilitate interactions as data analysis and information handling become more sophisticated. Innovation and expansion in Social Networking interactions contribute to the pressures for change.

To close this section, once the ‘computer’ was a ‘box’ in the data center. Distributed and personal computing changed that to ‘the network is the computer’. Today, as service creation and delivery extends beyond the data center into the Cloud; it is ‘the internet is the computer’.

Coordination of Strategy and Message

For a number of year, Steve Mill’s stated dream and goal has been to have customers purchase IBM solutions not Tivoli or Rational or WebSphere solutions nor any specific hardware platform. While not quite complete, the message is IBM as the provider of IBM solutions. The strategy and message is more consistent and inclusive across the spectrum of solutions and services than it has been before. This is not to say that everything is obscured behind some gauzy veil of vague generality; it is to say that there is a
clear articulation on the role of each part of IBM. The market positioning and, most importantly, the particular value to the customer and how that value is delivered are consistently presented.

IBM is becoming adept at articulating the significance of solutions that don’t lend themselves to easy comprehension to mixed audiences of IT and business staff. The positioning of PureSystems and their associated benefits to MSPs, IT and business is just one example. Another example is the explanation of how different standards and standards organization are important to not only the IT practitioner, but also to the business consumer. These are necessary steps to build support for a coherent standards architecture. The clear and accurate positioning of those activities that goes beyond the traditional is a differentiator for IBM.

IBM successfully illustrated the logic, strategy and, most importantly, client benefit that drives what, in the past, appeared to be disparate activities. They are ahead of the pack in communicating their plans and solutions in a way that resonates with both IT and business staff. Supporting on-line communities4 and customer experience labs 5 add substance and weight to their message. Kudos to the entire IBM team; they earned them for putting together a very impressive event.

Source: Ptak, Noel