I have been on the road all week so I haven’t had a chance to write up the news about the launch of the IBM PureSystems converged infrastructure line. But I think its kind of a big deal.
PureSystems is a new brand – the first major new IBM brand of the Ginni Rometty era. As I understand it she was directly involved in deciding on the name, which is interesting. We’ve come a long way from calling servers RS/6000s.
Steve Lohr of the NY Times recently argued that IBM and Apple aren’t all that different. He has a point in that both companies believe in vertical integration and systems thinking. We should be careful of the parallels – the two are obviously incredibly different in terms of business model. But there is no doubt that IBM will have taken great heart from Apple’s destruction of the Wintel lock on the industry. Apple’s resurgence may have begun when it made the decision to adopt Intel chips in its laptops but new form factors – namely the iPod, iPhone and now the iPad have driven a fundamental break with the past. IBM wants to do the same thing in the data center – with a high margin high value integrated system which runs Intel or IBM’s own POWER chips. The margins are of course better the more IBM and less Intel gear is in the system. That’s where the Apple IBM parallel comes into focus. Another similarity is IBM’s push to have application partners running on the new boxes at launch. The PureSystems site includes a catalog of third party apps customers can buy preinstalled. Unlike Apple, IBM doesn’t have a billing engine to support all this goodness, which I think is a bit of an Achilles heel, but enterprise licensing is not usually amenable to simplicity.
The excellent Timothy Prickett Morgan of El Reg talks to the technical details here.
Its worth noting that Cisco has been kicking ass and taking names against the traditional server vendors with its UCS converged systems, so there is clearly a market for this stuff, and IBM can’t afford to cede too much ground in this arena.
I will be keeping a close eye on PureSystems adoption and ecosystem. This may not be IBM’s iPad moment, but IBM has the bit between its teeth. Next step – integrating OpenStack, which IBM also announced it is supporting this week [that's another blog post on the todo list], into PureSystems.
disclosure: IBM is a client. Cisco and Apple are not.