IBM's software is the lifeblood of its Smarter Planet initiative to add a layer of intelligence to the basic processes that run today's world, including roads, water and power.
IBM's software is the lifeblood of its Smarter
Planet initiative to add a layer of intelligence to the basic processes
that run today's world, including roads, water and power, among other things.
Indeed, Big Blue's Smarter Planet initiative has deep roots in IBM
Software Group. In fact, you cannot even talk about the IBM
Smarter Planet strategy without mentioning IBM's
Tivloi brand, as Tivoli provides
much of the software to enable the management of all the smart processes,
networks and grids that will bring the smart strategy to fruition.
"The basic idea of Smarter Planet is resonating because anywhere you
look there's instrumentation, and the amount of information you can get out of
that is enormous," said Al Zollar, general manager of Tivoli
software at IBM. "Smarter Planet starts
with a simple proposition that as more things get instrumented-like facilities
in a data center-using embedded chips or RFID devices, and being put together
on networks. ... We're calling that whole movement Smarter Planet."
IBM software, particularly IBM's
Tivoli software, provides service
management solutions for industries that help them build what IBM
calls twenty-first century infrastructures, or dynamic infrastructures. And IBM
software is used to manage the infrastructure of smart utility grids, smart
water management and traffic systems, smart levees, smart oil refineries, and
IBM middleware, systems management and
collaboration tools, and other software lie at the heart of many of these
systems. IBM's Tivoli
software automates, secures and manages the smart IT and physical assets, and
WebSphere software manages the business processes in different environments
including SOA (service-oriented architecture). Information management software
from IBM manages the data. And Lotus
software helps organizations work smarter, while Rational software is
developing advanced systems and tools for enterprises to build up dynamic
Where there used to be a clear line drawn between the five brands in the IBM
Software Group and their uses for organizations, all are now working together,
on top of and around each other, to make a more intelligent and dynamic
infrastructure possible. The comprehensive software offerings coupled with
extensive hardware and services expertise-especially in the areas of
industry-specific service management offerings-are unmatched by anyone in the
industry and proving to put vendors such as Hewlett-Packard even further behind
in the race, IBM officials claim.
"Many of our competitors are trying to use similar words to describe
what they offer, but the difference is we have the experience and customer
success stories," Zollar said.
Of the mingling of the IBM software
brands to deliver a final, smart solution for customers, Zollar added:
"The brands are just convenient handles for our clients to look at what
they can ask us for. Underneath it all, we look at this as a set of
architectures for us to deliver what our clients need."
Software has long been used to operate electric grids, pipelines, railways,
production facilities and manufacturing lines, among other things. Now IBM
software is being used to make these grids, infrastructures, facilities and
products more intelligent so as to save money, improve operations, and better
manage the use of, and even save, natural resources, Zollar said. Where
corporate and public IT departments were once tasked with managing scores of
PCs, servers and networking gear in their data centers, they are now required
to manage bridges, trains, nuclear power plant turbines, sand bags in
levees and any other piece of physical infrastructure to which wireless sensors
can be applied.
And, according to Zollar, IBM has big
plans-along with the hardware, software and services chops-to help customers in
this new world where the boundaries of the traditional IT data center are being
stretched far beyond the data center. The opportunity provided by this new
world is sizable. Market research firm IDC
estimates the market for the services, products and technologies to build the
new infrastructure to stand at $122 billion by 2012.
As Zollar noted, IBM has the tools and
technology as well as the experience to take on these new challenges.
For example, in the Netherlands,
with about 27 percent of its area and 60 of its population located below sea
level, IBM is working with country officials
on a smart levee system where sand bags are equipped with sensors and managed
through an integrated emergency management system, IBM
said. In a widespread storm, rising water levels and weakened levee walls can
alert central management systems to deploy manpower and resources to the areas
requiring immediate attention. This saves money on infrastructure costs and
quickly resolves problems affecting the residents.
And the same software that is creating smarter levees can be applied to
bridges, IBM said. The I-35W Mississippi
River bridge collapse in Minneapolis
is a good example of what a smarter bridge could prevent, IBM
says. Smart bridges with sensors to report wear, weaknesses, and areas of
corrosion or concern can report back to a centrally managed system aligned with
city infrastructure and planning. City and local government offices are able to
deploy resources to the bridges in need before a catastrophe happens.
Moreover, utilities in the United States,
Italy and other
countries are now using IBM software to
build digital grids to monitor the energy system in real time, the company
said. This enables them to fix outages much faster, and source and distribute
power more intelligently. It also makes the integration of traditional and new
sources of power possible, providing end-to-end insight across all forms of
Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.