IBM Rivals and Clients

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2010-03-30 Print this article Print


Oracle also has been talking about how they're looking at vertically integrated optimized systems. It sounds like IBM's strategy-they even said they want to be like IBM of the '60s. How is Oracle's approach different, or what sets IBM apart?

They do talk a lot. Just one problem: When Oracle talks about Oracle software and Sun hardware being "vertically integrated systems," in reality it's just packaging a bag of parts and putting a label on it. Workload-optimized systems require years of R&D and close work with clients. Optimized systems require long-term investments, deep integration, industry knowledge ... partnerships with clients and business partners. It's a long list. We've invested billions. We've worked with clients, the world's top banks for example, for decades on the integrated systems that run today's global banking transactions. And now we're widening the gap with most innovative and integrated systems, optimized for the most demanding workloads. You can't do that with a bag of parts.

What about HP?

Leaders in this market innovate. They attack the real pains their customers are experiencing. But even today, some in our industry, such as HP, still seem to believe that information technology has become a commodity. If you really understand where the technology is going-that it is moving out of the back office and into the front lines and into the core business of every organization-you see the idea of "smarter systems" is resonating with decision makers. These decision makers have real business needs. They want an infrastructure that is not only as secure as a laptop PC, they need to process exabytes of data, in real time. They do not want to revert to the inefficient sprawl of the 1990s. They know what that's like when they pour all their resources into operating and maintaining the mess.

We are accelerating our market position through continued innovation at every point across the stack, delivering what I call intelligent performance versus raw performance. We can definitely scale the technology to get the raw performance, but given the complexity of today's IT infrastructure environments, IT managers also need to see improvement and simplification in how they manage that environment: virtualization, consolidation, systems management and workload optimization. So that's what we're focused on and, ultimately, what differentiates IBM from our competitors.

Can you give me a few examples of IBM clients that are using IBM systems in innovative ways?

Rice University is collaborating with Texas Medical Center on a research project to better understand root causes of cancer and other diseases. Rice told us that memory was a huge issue for them. Existing systems didn't provide enough memory for data-intensive work such as genomic sequencing, protein folding, drug modeling and simulating a multitude of molecular interactions in normal and unhealthy tissues. IBM responded to this feedback when we built innovative memory-doubling features into Power7. Rice also told us that fast parallel processing is very important to its medical research-that is, being able to process multiple jobs in real time so that teams of researchers in disparate locations are working off the latest information. This feedback played a part in IBM designing Power7 with strong parallel processing capabilities.

Another good example is smart electrical grids. eMeter provides software for smart electrical grids, and the company is a great example of an ISV choosing IBM technology for emerging, data-intensive business models. What does this look like in the real world? One eMeter client is CenterPoint Energy in Houston, an $8 billion energy wholesaler with more than 5 million electric and gas customers across six states. CenterPoint Energy has deployed more than 100,000 smart meters and expects to install more than 2 million meters by 2014. They're capturing power usage data from homes and businesses every 15 minutes. In late March, eMeter and IBM announced a unique bundled software package, available preloaded on Power7, that helps utilities customers do Smart Grid implementations out of the box. This integrated bundle can help utilities cut Smart grid implementation and test time from a year to six months, and drop 60 percent off the implementation cost.

One more example is Acxiom Corp., a leader in interactive marketing services and early user of eX5 systems. Acxiom analyzes massive amounts of rapidly ballooning Web-based consumer data on behalf of its clients-including seven of the top 10 retail banks and nine of the top 10 auto makers. They've gone from 4 petabytes one year ago to 7 petabytes just six months ago to more than 10 petabytes of data today. Their CIO calls IBM's new eX5 systems 'game changers' because of their ability to let Acxiom double their virtualization capacity, dropping software licensing costs.

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.

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel