Rod Adkins, IBM's Sr. VP of the Systems and Technology Group (STG), presented a mid-year review to independent analysis showing how the group was doing. All of the revenue and shipment charts were showing arrows going up and to the right, that is, IBM is seeing significant growth in the areas under the good Mr. Adkin's control.
While I could go into an in-depth analysis of each program mentioned, what I think is more important is that the group is implementing a few relatively simple concepts in an integrated, multi-platform way. It is aligning itself with growth markets and geographies as well. Their success can be attributed, in part, to executing programs based upon these simple concepts across all of their product groups.
The simple concepts
IBM has been focusing on getting across a few concepts of ways that more intelligent use of information technologies (IBM's of course) can result in improved levels of efficiency, greater agility and, it is hoped, reduced costs. The company is calling this "Smarter Computing."
IBM would point out the following things:
- We've gotten to the point that nearly all processes inside of a company are becoming automated. More and more "things" have become computers including home appliances, office machinery, automobiles, power grids, and, oh yes, desktop, laptop, handheld and data center computers.
- All of these computing systems are churning out data. Understanding all of that data, turning it into useful information and then using that information to make better, faster decisions can help the company outperform its competitors.
- Since there are many different tasks, no single computing architecture fits everywhere. IBM calls this "Tuned to the task."
- All business resources need to be managed. In the case of information technologies, that means managing the systems, network, storage, workloads and the like regardless of whether they're local or remote; running on physical or virtual systems; or are executing on-premise or in the cloud. IBM would point out that their vision of managing resources covers just about anything based upon a computer
Systems different answers to different questions
Only a few suppliers offer systems based upon many different architectures. IBM, of course, is one of the few. It offers several system architectures because the company knows that customers are asking many different IT questions and having only a single answer limits what they can do. At this point, IBM is offering:
- System Z for organizations requiring massive application scalability or management of huge databases (read Big Data)
- Power Systems (UNIX and IBM i) for those needing performance or highly integrated computing environments
- System X for organizations wanting industry standard systems for Windows or Linux workloads
Since IBM has been one of the leading players in virtualized environments for decades, Linux can run as a separate partition or virtual machine across the whole IBM portfolio.
IBM is competing with major system, software and services companies. Although the competition is fierce, it is seeing growth across all of the STG business units. This demonstrates that IBM's messages and the capabilities of its products are resonating with customers and potential customers having concerns about where and how to utilize virtualization, cloud computing, business analytics and business optimization in their environment. IBM has the partners, products and services that can directly address these concerns
HP, on the other hand, has a similar portfolio of products and services. I don't think that HP has refined its messages in a way that makes it as understandable for customers. Neither Oracle/Sun nor Dell have the same breadth or depth.
It appears that IBM is on the right track.