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STGEvent09 – The First Afternoon

More details on what Smart Planet means for the Systems group at IBM.

Rod Adkins

Following this mornings general sessions, the afternoon brought more detail to the hardware meets Smart Planet vision-scape. There was more discussion of “growth markets,” a fun customer sit-down with Visa’s CTO Matt Quinlan, breakouts for the various server types, System Director talk, and then Q & A.

Here are some highlights:

  • IBM says China continues to be a big, new market for them. They highlighted the big project types as: smarter rails, healthcare, banking modernization, Smart Grid. IBM’s Vinodh Swaminathan did the growth market presentation, and was interesting to note the lessening of the term “BRIC” and more emphasis on China, India, and Eastern Europe. ICEE, anyone?
  • Tom Rosamilia, GM of System z (mainframes) hosted a “fireside chat” with Visa’s CTO Matt Quinlan. As customer talks go, this one was pretty good: it spoke both to technical details and the vision du jour, Smart Planet. As Matt summarized some Visa videos (making payments with a mobile phone and getting debit cards instead of checks for child support), these are “kind of our version in reality of Smart(er) Planet.”
  • Visa has been running on mainframes for a long time, but updates to z/OS and other software throughout. To that end, when it comes to young talent, Matt said that they can get fresh college grades working on their mainframe based systems in two weeks.
  • Matt on mobile & other new devices: the Visa plastic card has been around for 50 years. Even with a chip in the card, you can’t do much beyond the basics with it. With mobile phones you have a powerful chip, a computer in your pocket. “This is the first time in human history that we have truly a ubiquitous device…. What you can do with a transaction across a mobile platform is very different than what you can do with a point of sale.” Clearly, in being here Visa sees IBM as an important parter for that dry-cleaned cyberpunk vision.
  • I chose to go to the System x breakout as most people I talk with are interested in x86, giving a confused look when it comes to Power and just laugh at me if I mention mainframes.
  • The best, nuanced summary of the System x session was from Adalio Sanchez, GM of System z: “The hypervisor is not where the battle is going to be waged, it’s about how you bring it all together [into a system].” The idea here is that while x86 boxes may be built from commodity parts, there’s a certain type of embrace and extend IBM does to add extra value to how those “pizza boxes,” as Sanchez referred to them, are put together. That added value, along with a reasonably low price, is what would make IBM attractive vs., say, Dell.
  • While it’s easy to make the Microsoft embrace and extend snark, he also clarified an anti-lock-in stance by dismissed unified computer entrants (Cisco) in the market by saying they’re “creating a proprietary approach that tends to lock people in. Integration is fundamental, but can be done in open ways that don’t create lock-in for the [customer].”
  • The afternoon general session was started with STG Software GM Helen Armitage, who gave some more detail to STG’s software strategy. What’s interesting is that STG “owns” virtualization and operating systems (AIX, Linux, etc.) in IBM along with their own management stack, System Director. The goal of System Director is to provide base level, open integration and enough interfaces and UIs to use them without encroaching on Tivoli territory. While the virtualization and OSes are clear cut, things start to get fuzzy as you climb up to monitoring and other IT Management stacks. Clearly, Tivoli will do process and other ITSM tasks, but there’s enough overlap to be troubling, and many analysts said as much during the Q&A.
  • There’s no easy, clear way to divide the world between System Director and Tivoli – STG can’t say it just instruments and makes monitoring possible in a “good enough” interface, and Tivoli can’t give up monitoring. Obviously, both do more than that simple distilling down, but in talking about the division of functionality, it’s difficult to get a “crisp” message. Then again, if one of them gave in on what they couldn’t do, it’d all add up. On the other hand, the metal to screen energy monitoring scenario from Pulse 2009 is a perfect example – and template – of how STG and Tivoli can share IT Management rather than throw dust up around the assumed clean separation of the two.
  • As an overall note, it’s notable that the STG folks don’t speak to developers more. As Iwata commented on this morning, the new types of work loads (resulting in, requirements) that are driving new systems roll outs are not always ERP an classically enterprise software related. They’re new types of applications. Getting developers more intimate with hardware is a big challenge, as a whole generation of developers (myself included) were taught that working closing with the operating system, much less the hardware was a big no-no. Think the virtual machines of Java and the CLR of .Net. That kind of developer mentality favors commodity hardware, not the luxury toppings that come in IBM pizza boxes. However, there looks to be some developerWorks in the agenda for tomorrow, so we’ll see what Jim Corgel and crew suss out there.

In the evening we had dinner at the classicly country club feeling Winged Foot Golf Club, which was exactly what you’d expect from a golf club. Tomorrow has half a days activity and, tragically, a lab tour I’ll have to skip out on in favor of getting back to Austin.

Disclosure: IBM paid T&E for this event and is a client. Dell is a client as well. See the RedMonk clients list for other relevant client.

Categories: Conferences, Enterprise Software, Systems Management.

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Continuing the Discussion

  1. […] RedMonkGear « STGEvent09 – The First Afternoon […]

  2. […] New platforms and devices change what’s required from the IT industry. This is the first time in human history that we have truly a ubiquitous device… What you can do with a transaction across a mobile platform is very different than what you can do with it a point of sale. –Matt Quinlan, CTO for Visa, Inc. at #STGEvent09 […]

  3. […] –Matt Quinlan, CTO for Visa, Inc. at #STGEvent09 […]