IBM STG Analyst Forum Day 1 Competitive Advantages

Afternoon sessions at the IBM STG Analyst Forum.
Written by Dan Kusnetzky, Contributor on

IBM's System and Technology Group (STG) presented a multi-day analyst forum. I've posted several times on the content of this event. Please see IBM STG Analyst Forum Virtualization and Cloud "Deep Dive" and IBM STG Analyst Forum Day 1 Morning Sessions for more information on this event.

Creating a Sustained Competitive Advantage for IBM Systems

The IBM executives presenting this session were:

  • Helene Armitage, GM, Systems Software, IBM STG
  • Ambuj Goyal, GM Development and Manufacturing, IBM STG

Although they had 35 charts to show, Helene and Ambuj promised not to show any of them if the analysts can keep the conversation lively. Ambuj pointed out that between the two of them, they had an opinion on everything. I can tell this is going to be a delightful session!

Ambuj is working on an article titled "Creating a Sustained Competitive Advantage for IBM Systems" and asked for our help.  He threatened us, once again, with the charts if we didn't offer some ideas.

Here are some of the points made by the analysts in the room:

  • IBM has a reputation of following through on its promises. Customers know that IBM is not going to sell, for example, IBM Power Systems to a third party. This means that customers trust what IBM says. Other suppliers don't have as good of a reputation.
  • Systems that IBM offers are reliable and manageable. They can  be counted upon to perform their function for the life of the systems. That means that costs can be estimated.  Customers don't like surprises and IBM seldom offers them.
  • IBM has a history of investment in technology. IBM has invented many of the technologies customers take for granted today. The list includes virtualization technology, many storage technologies and quite a few memory technologies just as a beginning. It continues to invest today.
  • IBM has been a good partner over time and seldom waits for a partner to develop a market and then rushes in to take the market away from that partner. They might buy that partner, but they seldom adopt predatory behavior patterns.
  • The Smarter Computing message that combines hardware, software, networking, services and the like can be built into a competitive advantage. The holistic approach is quite different from many competitors.
  • Purposed built systems has the opportunity to become a competitive advantage as well. Making life easier for customers and partners can be a very important element in their IT road map.
  • IBM's investments in open standards and its welcoming everyone to the party can make customers feel more comfortable starting with or adding IBM products later. This includes hardware interconnects, network protocols, storage technology, communications protocols, development tools and architectures.
  • IBM has labs in over 50 countries. This means that it has deep talent at its command and also has a deep understanding of International issues. This also means that IBM understands many issues that are slowing the adoption of cloud computing and can help its customers avoid them.

Ambuj Goyal's comments

Amuj went on to talk about some technology investments in progress today. Computational power, Storage performance, and interconnects (both memory and networking) are areas of investment today.

He presented an example of a 96-way processing environment. In 1990, that would have required 24 racks of systems be installed. IBM expects that to be a single system by 2015.

He presented how the use of Flash and SSDs are making is possible to use fewer storage spindles and still achieve higher number of IO Operations per Second (IOPS).

Amuj pointed out that the performance gap between processor to memory and system to network interconnects his narrowing rapidly. This means that distributed application architectures are catching up with single-system performance. IBM is working to narrow this gap in its labs today.  I'm reminded of my years at DEC. At one point, processor to memory performance on DEC's UNIBUS was 1.5 million bytes per second. It is now possible to obtain wide area network links that are more than ten times that level of performance.  This also means that high end modular designs for systems is possible today and will only get better over time.

Helene Armitage's comments

Helene when on to speak about what IBM is doing with system software. She pointed out that IBM has been doing virtualization for decades. This means IBM's systems, system software as well as security and management software have virtualization built in not added on after the fact.

She presented a couple of customer success stories to support her points.


My apologies go out to the analysts in the room whose thoughts I have thoroughly mangled in my attempt to get them down rapidly.

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