IBM's Systems and Technology Group (STG) is presenting an analyst forum up in lovely Ryebrook, NY. Yesterday afternoon's agenda offered several "deep dive" sessions with IBM's Distinguished Engineers, CTOs and other very knowledgeable staff.
Deep DivesIBM presented the following sessions concurrently. That, of course, meant that it was impossible to take part in all of them. I selected the Virtualization and Cloud Deep Dive.
|Analytics||Storage||Virtualization & Cloud|
Frank de Gilio
Virtualization and Cloud Deep Dive
VirtualizationIan Robinson was at the podium for the first section of the session. He looked at IBM's virtualization technology for IBM's platforms — IBM System Z (Mainframe), IBM Power Systems (IBM's AIX and IBM I-based systems) and IBM System X (X86-based).
Although the operating systems and hardware architectures are different, IBM has been working to develop the same layers of management to allow IT administrators to use the same tools to manage all three systems.
IBM has been working to extend the capabilities of the IBM Power Systems both by adding new features to the Power architecture microprocessors and the virtual machine software and operating system virtualization and partitioning software these systems support. Over the last 10 years, the company has offered amazing levels of both granularity (it is possible to assign as little as one hundredth of a processor to a VM) and scalability (it is possible to assign up to 256 processors to a VM).
IBM's management tools for IBM System X now support VMware, KVM, Xen (supported by the Tivoli management framework) and others.
The overall goal was moving past virtualization for its own sake to making it a tool to allow organizations the ability to look at all of the resources of all of the systems in the data center as a pool of resources that can be used as needed.
Cloud ToolsIBM's SmartCloud Entry was demonstrated to show how IBM's management tools and systems can work together to make it easy for technical users to create their own in-house infrastructure as a service (IaaS) environment and move virtual appliances into off-site public cloud services. A technical user would find the tools very easy to understand. A business user, on the other hand, would not find these tools very easy. IBM's Dave Amit and Frank de Gilio pointed out that IBM has other tools aimed at the needs of business users. This demonstration was just to introduce the entry product in a family of Cloud provisioning and management products in the IBM portfolio.
Cloud ArchitectureFrank de Gilio then took the podium and layed out a very reasonable view of cloud computing and put forward the notion that organizations need to step back and re-think its IT infrastructure to make the best and most efficient use of cloud computing.
In his view, it is time for organizations to refocus on their business needs, the problems they face and then select the appropriate tools. It is his view that the rigid, stove-piped IT departments inside of many large companies are near the end of their useful lives and it is now time to think about where and how a cross-company organization needs to be created to deal with today's issues.
We're moving well beyond the time that workloads are placed on a single, physical system and execute there for the rest of the lifecycle of that workload. He pointed out that mainframe and midrange (IBM Power System) workloads are nearly all exectuing in a virtual environment today. X86 workloads are rapidly moving in that direction.
Snapshot analysisIt really isn't possible for a large supplier, such as IBM or HP, to do a "deep dive" of even a single one of their business units in an afternoon. IBM really didn't succeed at this task either.
What was clear to me is that IBM has a very good, very pragmatic view of both its customers' requirements and available IT approaches and technology. Both the sessions and the meetings I had with each of the individual presenters demonstrated that IBM knows what is happening and has concrete plans to help customers make the most of today's technology.
I believe one of IBM's bigger challenges is finding a simple, clear and persuasive way to discuss its huge portfolio of products and services. Frank de Gilio had a wonderful conversation about the wisdom of starting with a small concept that would immediately help a customer and show a positive return on investment and then move on from there. Showing a comprehensive, complete slide of everything IBM is doing on any topic would scare decision makers and make IBM's products appear difficult and complex.