IBM is often thought of as the 800-pound gorilla in the datacenter room, so it is a bit hard to think of them as a company that is sneaking up on the datacenter customer. But while names such as HP and Cisco are making lots of noise about their consolidated datacenter plans, IBM has been quietly delivering technologies that make for a more effective and efficient datacenter operation.
The most recent offering is a collection of workload optimized systems ranging from blade systems to storage to enterprise class server hardware. IBM is applying the experience they have to optimize these devices for specific workloads which allows the customer to take advantage of that IBM knowledgebase to get a jump start on deploying solutions optimal for their production environment.
IBM isn't the only vendor with the ability to optimize systems for customer needs, but, in general, this is the job of the consulting or services branch of the technology vendor. Services are a significant piece of the revenue stream for enterprise vendors, as witnessed by the increase in Dell's enterprise solutions and services revenue being a primary point of increase in their growth to $60 billion revenue in the last fiscal year.
But of the top enterprise vendors, only a few, such as IBM and HP, own the end to end hardware technology that they can deploy at customer sites. This means that they aren't dealing with third-parties equipment, partnership agreements that specify what they can and cannot do, and direct support, with no additional levels between the product teams and the customer deployments. This has the potential to improve the customer experience, not simply in the traditional ‘single throat to choke" perspective but in the ability of the vendor to offer well optimized systems to their customers that the vendor has complete control of down to the hardware level. In the quickly changing universe of enterprise datacenter optimization, this level of device control and development may be critical in maximizing the efficiency of future datacenter operations.