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STGEvent09 – The First Morning

Smart Planet goes whole-hog hardware at IBM’s Systems analyst summit.

View from IBM's TJ Watson Lab

I’m up here at the IBM TJ Watson Lab in Yorktown for the Systems and Technologies Group Analyst Summit (#STGEvent09 for short). This is the group in IBM that does servers and storage: the alphabet soup of hardware (p/i, x, and z), tapes, and storage arrays. The “technologies” part are things like retail point-of-sale, RFID (?), and other chunks of hardware.

Like all of IBM, the high-level focus in on Smart Planet and growth markets (or “emerging markets,” as we used to call them). STG’s mapping into the internet of things part of Smart Planet and the high performance transactions lurking in there fit well here: that whole “things” part is, of course, hardware and needs a lot of iron to run.

As with most analyst shows now, there’s good voyeuring in Twitter, here under the tag #STGEvent09.


Here are some highlights of the morning, with light commentary:

  • IBM’s Jon Iwata started off (after a brief opening from STG leader Rod Adkins) going over the success of the Smart Planet program. For this crowd, much of the thrust was in proving that Smart Planet isn’t just an ad campaign, but a technical strategy. After seeing two years of these talks and the cases around it, that seems fair. Though, as IBMers would tell you, there’s plenty of vision runway left to fill out.
  • Iwata said they’d done a study of 20 customers using new technologies (like cloud-driven stuff and other Smart Planet categorized stuff). Shockingly for them, very few or none of them were dong traditional ERP projects. They were new types of projects. Instead, the projects were things like “farm-to-fork” tracking of chickens and the (now) classic cluster of Smart Planet cases, things like “Smart Sewage.”
  • One of the interesting customers bases have been cities, under the (you guessed it) Smart City rubric. What was interesting here, Iwata said, is that cities as an “industry” will freely talk with each other and share best practices, etc. That won’t happen with banks, retail, and others where sharing IT best practices and projects screws with their competitive angles.
  • Ginni Rometty, IBM’s SVP of Sales and Distribution, spoke about the types of customer problems this Smart Planet business applies to: lots of global financial system and supply chain butterfly effects, like rising gas prices causing rises in rice prices causing riots.
  • Another good side comment of her’s was that analytics here are about predictive analytics, not looking at the past.
  • Closing out the session before lunch, Rod Adkins got back up speaking to the STG portfolio and some (NDA) road-map info.
  • The portfolio is an interesting mix of general purpose machines and customized machines (like CloudBurst). Across the board, the plan for appeal seemed was more about high functionality and the resulting value to hardware buyers vs. “good” enough, cheap boxes. Former STG’er Mark Cathcart (now at Dell) had some snark on the general vs. specialized topic.
  • Additionally, as Gary MacFadden summarized, STG’s go-to-market is “focusd on workload optimization, solutions [think application-driven stacks, like data analytics and cloud], leverage new delivery models [cloud?], partner with SWG, Services.”
  • During the Q&A, Judith Hurwitz asked if Adkins STG was looking at (in my words) self-service and provisioning technologies from the cloud world. The summary of the answer was pretty clear, if future looking: “yes we will look at those opportunities moving forward.” This squares with what Systems Software GM Helene Armitage said a few weeks back at Connect09.
  • Over lunch, I talked with fellow analyst Charles King and Tivoli CTO David Lindquist about the evolving nature of image management, provisioning, and automation. We also discussed the US government’s ongoing and early interest in cloud computing, and how much room for “abstraction” there was on the table for applying cloud technologies to good old fashioned IT management. The thinking there being that much of the infrastructure out there is custom-fit to the applications and work-loads it runs on instead of being more generalized, leading to it being ready for private cloudesque ways of doing IT management.

The afternoon features a customer “fireside chat” with Visa CTO Matt Quinlan, breakouts for the different systems (p, x, and z), and more general session.

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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