James Governor's Monkchips

Insights from IBM Systems And Technology industry analyst event 2005

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IBM doesn’t have much big news at its analyst event this time around. But there were some interesting little titbits to take away.

Germans just love virtualization. The geography was a huge market for IBM’s VM/VSE mainframe platform. It then led the world in terms of running Linux in partitions on zSeries. Now comes a radically open architecture for DNS and file and print consolidation called Stonehenge. I had never heard of it before, but when IBM Germany sneezes, other geographies tend to catch a cold. Why is Stonehenge most interesting? It packages all these open source components: Apache, Kerberos, Linux, Samba, OpenAFS, and OpenLDAP. So who says IBM only supports Linux and not other open source componentry? Stonehenge is designed as a consolidation vehicle for Windows file and print in organizations with more than 500 users–it embeds secure access and disaster recovery into the box, and integrates with Microsoft Active Directory. This is storage subsystem as application server, with failover, built on totally open software components. Interesting. Here’s a presentation on the subject.

On that note another STG offering should help us reconsider the STG-Software Group balance. For those that criticize IBM for making every HTTP nail a WebSphere hammer, how about an OpenPower Apache server? That’s right, IBM STG sells Apache appliances.

How is IBM’s Linux client rollout going? Good question. Here is the answer. Scott Handy, VP, WW Linux business strategy at IBM, said IBM had rolled out some 25k Linux clients. However progress has stalled, for now–Scott said once IBM had rolled out its Workplace client platform, which looks the same on Linux or Windows, then IBM could complete its Linux client rollout. So its early plans were over aggressive. What’s new in IT?

One thing that is not new but is modern is the iSeries platform. I was really taken with this quote from Mark Shearer, general manager of that business. “The iSeries is IBM in a box“. Last night in the bar when i was repeating the story i said “AS/400 is IBM in a box”. Oops. I guess the tripling of the iSeries marketing budget will be money well spent…. And the iSeries today can be IBM and Oracle in a box

If I am going to talk to the iSeries i should prolly call out its identical twin with completely different dress sense, the pSeries. What’s new in pSeries world, a growing Unix platform? IBM is using its old mainframe playbook by offering customers that want a 16 way box a full 32 way for the price of the 16 way, which can be upgraded on demand. That is, when the customer needs more capacity they just call IBM and turn on the new capacity. The approach is currently on trial in the UK. The approach could be useful for resellers too–what channel player doesn’t want a good excuse to revisit a customer? IBM is evidently doing something right in the channel with AIX; sales to SMBs apparently grew 20% in Q1.

What most surprised me at the event was probably that IBM hasn’t been hammering on HP or Sun that much. Nothing to say on Solaris 10. And as for HP, until a Hurd mentality becomes established, HP’s enterprise server business is surely subsceptible with targeted kickout programs.

The uber topic, if there is one, the way i read it, is that IBM wants to establish its Engineering Technology&Services (ET&S) division as an alternative to selling applications, from an account management (and control) perspective. Collaborations with clients in specific vertical industries create significant barriers to entry for other IT vendors. Applications were a 20th century lock in. IBM wants to make joint innovation, and ongoing business transformation, the new lock in for the 21st.

Don’t get “distracted” when selling iron though, folks, when you do, your financials get awfully lumpy. And lumpy financials are surely not on demand financials. Smoothing spikes right?

One thing that surprises me about context setting at the event is that nobody mentioned the R word. That is recession. Should we really believe, as IBM’s recent annual report claims, that we’re on the verge of a period of sustained economic growth? There are some very worrying signs in the economy. Should we start to hunker down? Is that the real reason European sales for STG (x and zSeries) were a little light in the last financial quarter?

Anyhow, the last session just finished. Its a wrap.

One comment

  1. James, I am sorry that I wasn’t able to be at the STG event this year, not that they asked me, but I found an affinity for the analyst crowd that I felt very at ease talking with them and I am in general highly respectful of their opinions, because you will see more technology day to day than I do, but I get deeper into a specific set of teh tools we choose to work with.

    Anyways, My comment on this post for you is did you get a sense for the iSeries platform what success IBM is having with the 4 O/S implmentations on teh new power 5 platform?

    As you may be aware, we are looking to take the next step and move to a power 5 550 and use all 4 O/S’s as we convert what we have already into the one box, but also migrate a SCO unix app over to AIX (We could go Linux but we have better leverage using AIX in negotiations.)

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