IBM and Integration

By Jim Louderback  |  Posted 2004-10-06 Print this article Print

IBMs vice president of technology and strategy, Irving Wladawsky-Berger, started out with a 20,000-foot view. "Society is in the beginning of a transition from the industrial age to the information age," he said. Wladawsky-Berger summarized his companys focus of "on demand computing" into three critical areas:
  • "Integration at all levels based on open industry standards."
  • "That integration causes an incredible possibility of innovative industry solutions, industry by industry by industry. But you need to focus, regardless of what business you are in, on how to involve your industry and transform yourself to take advantage of all these possibilities."
  • "Society is now so incredibly dependent on the IT infrastructure that it has to work incredibly well—performance, scalability, durability, availability. So, you need a really, really well-functioning IT infrastructure."
The old way of selling IT products, by controlling technologies to maximize market share, just isnt possible in todays ubiquitous IT world, according to IBM. Instead, the company is focusing on integration with its middleware offerings—including WebSphere, DB2 and Workplace—and by facilitating integration with other components through open standards. Wladawsky-Berger also highlighted IBMs consulting business as a way to deliver transformational business solutions industry by industry. Unlike Hewlett-Packard Co. and Microsoft, which have a broad consumer line, IBM is focused solely on business—reaching consumers only through OEMs. He also pointed to IBMs industry focus as a strength, claiming that HP "doesnt have quite as strong an industry expertise and an industry consulting play." Sun, in his view, is "primarily a hardware vendor." He also pointed to open source as a key element of IBMs strategy. "Without it, it is impossible to achieve the kind of integration that we think people need to achieve in the marketplace." In his view, operating systems have already become a commodity, which makes Linux so strong. "Its the only operating system that runs on every single architecture," Wladawsky-Berger said. "The fact that Linux runs on everything puts it in the same category as Internet technologies like TCP-IP and all the XML stuff, and it makes it much easier to move workflows around because you have the same underlying operating system." He was less sanguine about Sun president Jonathan Schwartz comments Tuesday about Solaris versus Red Hat. "Poor Jonathan is searching for something to grab onto to say that Solaris is better than Linux in high-volume systems," Wladawsky-Berger said. "I think he needs to do better than that." Read more here about the first set of Vortex keynotes. Both Microsoft and EMC were very "on message," barely deviating from their canned scripts. EMC had taken some hits during a previous panel, voted the least likely to succeed of all of the top vendors. Howard Elias, the companys executive vice president in charge of marketing, addressed the problem head-on by talking about how the acquisitions of Legato, Documentum and VMWare were transforming the company from a hardware vendor to one that provides services and data management as well. "We have a unique lens," Elias said. "Our lens is coming from storage and information management, and our construction when you move up the stack has that lens." Elias then introduced a theme hed return to frequently during the discussion—that while the industry has focused on technology, EMC was looking to put the I (for information) back into IT. Next Page: Working to own the vertical stack.

With more than 20 years experience in consulting, technology, computers and media, Jim Louderback has pioneered many significant new innovations.

While building computer systems for Fortune 100 companies in the '80s, Jim developed innovative client-server computing models, implementing some of the first successful LAN-based client-server systems. He also created a highly successful iterative development methodology uniquely suited to this new systems architecture.

As Lab Director at PC Week, Jim developed and refined the product review as an essential news story. He expanded the lab to California, and created significant competitive advantage for the leading IT weekly.

When he became editor-in-chief of Windows Sources in 1995, he inherited a magazine teetering on the brink of failure. In six short months, he turned the publication into a money-maker, by refocusing it entirely on the new Windows 95. Newsstand sales tripled, and his magazine won industry awards for excellence of design and content.

In 1997, Jim launched TechTV's content, creating and nurturing a highly successful mix of help, product information, news and entertainment. He appeared in numerous segments on the network, and hosted the enormously popular Fresh Gear show for three years.

In 1999, he developed the 'Best of CES' awards program in partnership with CEA, the parent company of the CES trade show. This innovative program, where new products were judged directly on the trade show floor, was a resounding success, and continues today.

In 2000, Jim began developing, a daily, live, 8 hour TechTV news program called TechLive. Called 'the CNBC of Technology,' TechLive delivered a daily day-long dose of market news, product information, technology reporting and CEO interviews. After its highly successful launch in April of 2001, Jim managed the entire organization, along with setting editorial direction for the balance of TechTV.

In the summer or 2002, Jim joined Ziff Davis Media to be Editor-In-Chief and Vice President of Media Properties, including, Microsoft Watch, and the websites for PC Magazine, eWeek and ZDM's gaming publications.


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