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IT Briefcase Exclusive Interview: IBM PureSystems One Year Milestone and Outlook for Cloud

June 18, 2013 No Comments

In the below interview, Savio Rodrigues from IBM PureSystems, outlines ways in which PureSystems is enabling IBM customers to accelerate cloud deployment and address specific business or IT initiatives.

  • Q. IBM launched PureSystems as part of a new category of systems called expert integrated systems just over a year ago. What are the critical IT and business needs IBM has observed that have influenced the creation and expansion of its PureSystems family?

A. IBM has identified a number of critical business and IT challenges companies are facing that can be addressed by the IBM PureSystems family of solutions. IBM PureSystems offers an alternative to current enterprise computing models by combining server, storage, networking and platform middleware, data management and analytic resources into a secure, simple to deploy and manage system.

First, there is tremendous pressure to adopt business transformation strategies. This is driving organizations to determine how to efficiently and cost-effectively capitalize on opportunities associated with big data, cloud, mobile and social business technologies. Consider IBM research that found that 63 percent of organizations say that big data and analytics are helping them create competitive advantage, and 90 percent of leading organizations will be investing in cloud technologies by 2015.

This pressure means organizational leaders must understand how to invest in the right technologies that will accelerate the deployment of new applications, such as mobile and cloud, while more rapidly delivering valuable insights from big data and analytics. It requires organizations to adopt solutions that can simplify cloud application platforms and infrastructure, while improving IT efficiency by simplifying the IT lifecycle.

Second, despite the great opportunities associated with emerging technologies, IT departments in companies of all sizes and industries are increasingly working with restricted resources – both in terms of reduced budgets and limited skill sets – while still being expected to meet the needs of the business and deliver strategic solutions that impact both the top and bottom line. This challenge is causing many companies to fall behind schedule on the delivery of new projects, and leaves little to no budget for true innovation. Instead, most available resources are allocated toward day-to-day operations and maintenance, with up to 68 percent of the global IT budget being dedicated to management and administration – essentially maintaining status quo.

By freeing up time and resources, PureSystems allows IT to focus on innovation by taking a big-picture look at their overall environment, leveraging critical data to obtain a granular picture, and being agile in order to make informed and strategic decisions.

  • Q. What key milestones have been accomplished to date?

A. PureSystems has undergone a number of milestones thus far, both in terms of technology innovation and global adoption. The first two members of the PureSystems family, IBM PureFlex System and IBM PureApplication System, were announced in April 2012. PureSystems then expanded, adding a new family member, IBM PureData System, to help clients more efficiently manage and quickly analyze petabytes of data in minutes. Because different types of applications require different types of data services, there are now four models of the PureData System – each optimized for a specific data workload: IBM PureData System for Transactions, IBM PureData System for Analytics, IBM PureData System for Operational Analytics and most recently introduced, PureData System for Hadoop that is designed to make it easier and faster to deploy Hadoop in the enterprise.

Earlier this year, new PureSystems models were launched to help remove the complexity of developing cloud-based services by making it easier to provision, deploy and manage a secure cloud environment. Those models include a smaller PureApplication System to accelerate cloud deployments, and a PureApplication System on POWER7+. Most recent PureApplication enhancements include new disaster recovery and encryption capabilities, coupled with greater system elasticity and broad support for Windows applications. IBM also delivered new offerings, led by PureFlex System, designed specifically for the rapidly growing managed service provider segment, helping them deliver a robust cloud infrastructure that will enable them to drive new revenue streams.

The ‘secret sauce’ for IBM PureSystems continues to be rooted in its built-in expertise, which IBM calls patterns. These patterns, or “patterns of expertise,” are more than just blue prints or directions—they feature built-in best practices and expertise for complex tasks learned from decades of client and partner engagements that are captured, lab tested and optimized into a repeatable, policy driven form delivering faster time to value and reduced operational expense. IBM works with 275 independent software vendors (ISVs) to offer more than 345 software patterns across 21 industries.

As of the end of the first quarter of 2013, more than 4,000 systems had been sold in more than 90 countries, including many emerging markets. PureSystems’s clients and partners include Altus IT, Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway Company (BNSF), Círculo K Mexico, City of Bunbury (Australia), Desert Research Institute, DynaFront, New York Stock Exchange, Proginov and XO Communications.

To learn more about each of the unique PureSystems offerings, visit the PureSystems site:

  • Q. For organizations transitioning to a cloud services model, can you explain how PureSystems is enabling IBM customers to accelerate cloud deployment and address specific business or IT initiatives? Is a “cloud in a box” solution realistic?

A. PureSystems provides a “cloud in a box” by offering all of the infrastructure and management software necessary to quickly develop and deploy new applications in the cloud – whether in a public, private or hybrid cloud services model – while helping to remove complex, time- and labor-intensive processes. For an “out of the box” cloud solution, PureFlex System provides the necessary cloud infrastructure while PureApplication System offers a cloud application platform. Specifically, PureSystems eliminates the guesswork and enables organizations to simplify and accelerate the creation of cloud environments, providing them with options for quickly building and scaling private clouds and hybrid clouds with Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) capabilities. The IBM PureSystems family tightly aligns with the IBM SmartCloud strategy. PureSystems offerings are a part of the IBM SmartCloud Foundation family of offerings and simplify and accelerate the creation of private cloud environments. They leverage the same industry leading cloud management capabilities found in other SmartCloud Foundation offerings that can be used with a clients existing infrastructure/hardware.

This “cloud in a box” concept is transformative because it allows companies to migrate applications to the cloud with more flexibility and less risk. For managed service providers, for example, PureFlex System provides a cloud infrastructure system that is faster to implement, easier to manage and more cost effective than the managed service provider (MSP) having to build the platform themselves, helping them to cut operating expenses, such as systems administration and setup. MSPs can then deliver a robust cloud infrastructure that will enable them to drive new revenue streams.

An example of an IBM customer that has successfully used PureSystems for cloud deployment is the City of Bunbury, one of the largest regional governments in Western Australia. The city is using IBM PureSystems technology to streamline and simplify its IT infrastructure and provide a cloud-ready environment to deliver future initiatives such as local government private cloud computing. Learn more about IBM’s work with the City of Bunbury here:

  • Q. According to IDC, about 1.7 million cloud computing-related roles globally could not be filled in 2012 because applicants lacked the necessary training and experience. Especially in emerging technology areas like big data, cloud, mobile and social business, how can businesses use expert integrated systems to help give them an edge in these areas and address the skills gap?

 A. In order to mitigate the skills shortage, companies are seeking out new models of computing that don’t require the significant resources or employee training to set up and maintain infrastructure and platforms, but instead can meet workload demand in an automated, streamlined, easy-to-deploy manner. The IBM PureSystems family of expert integrated systems helps meet this demand by simplifying every aspect of the IT lifecycle, from consolidating applications, databases and infrastructure to reducing operational costs and simplifying resource management.

One way PureSystems simplifies IT is through the use of patterns. As mentioned earlier, these application or workload patterns enable organizations across industries to convert technology expertise into reusable best practices that stem from the experience of thousands of clients and streamlines the set-up and management of hardware and software resources. Before patterns, tuning a system to the business task was cumbersome and tedious. An IT organization would procure a new system and then monitor and tune it, using system instructions and tools alongside homegrown documentation (if it existed at all).

Now, with patterns of expertise in IBM PureSystems offerings, IT personnel can complete in minutes what used to take days—or weeks. These patterns are designed to automatically deploy, manage and optimize the components necessary—from the underlying hardware resources up through the middleware and application—to help deliver and manage today’s modern business processes, services and applications. While speed and simplicity are often benefits, the expertise, from IBM and its partners, that is embedded in these patterns directly addresses the skills availability gap that IDC has highlighted. An IT organization can use a pattern to set policies for desired outcomes, and the system is designed to monitor and automatically adjust itself to achieve the specified goals. The configurations and parameters once recorded in a red book or document are now patterns, so IT organizations no longer need to monitor and adjust abstract esoteric parameters.

  • Q. Based on the increasing pervasiveness of emerging technologies, like cloud, have you seen a visible shift in CIOs’ priorities? What steps are they taking to address these changes?

A. As we look at the various cloud service models available today, there is one emerging option we believe more CIOs will begin prioritizing: Platform as a Service (PaaS). PaaS has model-specific advantages, offering the speed and savings of alternatives like Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS), while retaining choice and control over application capabilities and data — the levers that drive greater differentiation and strategic impact.

IBM surveyed more than 1,500 IT decision makers from 18 countries to understand current attitudes and activity in the PaaS space. Results gleaned from more early PaaS adopters, called “Pioneers,” provided insight into how CIOs’ priorities are shifting and what others can learn from their experiences – particularly those seeking to improve speed to market while reducing risk.

PaaS can streamline and enhance the entire application lifecycle, from development and testing to deployment. At the same time, it can also simplify integration with other applications and greatly speed time to market. This stands to benefit the operational side of the house by improving productivity, while meeting the business imperative for increased innovation and competitiveness through differentiation at the application level.

Overall, the Pioneers surveyed are more focused on strategic gains versus immediate ROI, and they view PaaS as a way to make transformational changes. Results of the survey suggest specific steps to consider when developing a PaaS strategy, including:

– Prioritize and pilot — It sounds basic, but start with a pilot project, either deployed internally or through a cloud provider. Choose a new or existing application best suited for cloud development and production — one that is complex enough to allow for both substantive learning and benefits. Pioneers generally started with existing applications like web and CRM and simple integration services, then advanced from there.

– Transform application delivery to drive business improvement — Analyze and assess your current application environment with scalability objectives and business innovation in mind. Use that knowledge to build a strategic roadmap for progressively migrating applications to PaaS and eventually transforming the entire application lifecycle — development, testing and operations — creating opportunities for business improvement and greater market agility in key application areas.

– Harvest expertise — Capture and leverage knowledge to unlock the power of PaaS to improve the way applications are created, developed and managed. Work continuously to identify best practices and expertise that can be used to advantage. Harvest these as repeatable patterns to be leveraged across the cloud platform.

More details can be found in the full report, “Exploring the Frontiers of Cloud Computing,”

  • Q. In the next 3-5 years, what do you foresee as the most common complex issues that IT organizations will need to solve? How can these organizations get ahead of these now?

A. In the next three to five years, IT will be moving away from the data center as we now recognize it—which is too limiting—to a more agile model built on expert integrated systems, in which all the various data center components will be managed from a single-view platform that streamlines management and maintenance.

In the coming years, we will also continue to see the negative impact that limited budgets and resources have on organizations’ ability to innovate, meet evolving demands and gain competitive advantage. By implementing expert integrated systems such as those offered by IBM PureSystems, organizations can tighten the connections between hardware, software and services, and add incomparable application insight and know-how. With those benefits, organizations will be able to free up time and money to direct toward innovation and harnessing the strength of emerging technologies to deliver more targeted products and services. PureSystems represents another step toward simplifying complex IT tasks as organizations seek to efficiently deploy cloud and mobile solutions and draw key insights from the ever growing amount of data they control.

As the adoption of expert integrated systems continues to grow, IT silos will dissolve, new skills requirements will emerge, and IT departments will evolve into higher value services organizations that extend past the traditional, physical confines of the data center. We will witness a noticeable shift in the essential function of the IT department. IT will no longer perform as its own function, instead becoming much more closely aligned to broader business goals, and its mission and budget need to align to that of the rest of the organization. PureSystems will allow IT departments and CIOs to collaborate more effectively, thereby enabling IT teams to solve problems directly related to business requirements, rather than allocating significant time and budget to maintenance and administration.

Savio Rodrigues, Program Director, PureApplication System Product Management at IBM

Savio Rodrigues is Program Director of product management for PureApplication System and IBM Workload Deployer. He manages the product management team responsible for cross-IBM and WebSphere branded software and appliance-based offerings for cloud computing. Savio has over 13 years of experience with IBM in leadership product management, strategy and market intelligence roles. He has an MBA from the Rotman School of Management and a Masters in Engineering from the University of Toronto.

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