LAS VEGAS: Not having a good Internet connection for several live online demos in front of 9,100 customers, many of them developers, and partners, on Day 1 of IBM Impact 2014 was priceless. But using a comic-book character fighting criminals to highlight extensions to your Big Data analytics portfolio on Day 2? Holy crap Batman, that was really priceless!
On a much more positive note, Big Blue provided more details, as well as more customer testimonials, on how mobility, cloud and big data analytics can pay big dividends in the real world. As IBM ramps up its CAMS (cloud, analytics, mobile and social) offensive to conquer the composable business (its collaboration model between IT, line of business and development teams) world, it is liberally sprinkling customer success stories to demonstrate the real-world business benefits
One of the customer testimonials trotted out on Tuesday involved a partnership with IBM, Coriell Life Sciences, a provider of genetic analysis at point of care, and CareKinesis, a Medication Risk Mitigation pharmacy services firm, to bring individualized medicine to the elderly based on analyzing and storing genetic data in a secure cloud environment. “It’s real world personalized medicine available today, said Coriell CEO Scott Megill.
The company, which won the IBM SmartCamp Global Finals 2013 earlier this year, can determine whether or not the drugs a patient is taking are effective, or may have adverse side effects, or impact the effectiveness of other drugs the patient is already taking. Patients can be taking 20 or more drugs on average, and as many as half may not be doing what they’re supposed. It’s a huge problem, accounting for $135 billion a year wasted due to adverse drug reaction in the US, said Megill.
When they started mapping the DNA sequencing – all 3 billion pairs – back in 2003, the costs were in the billions, and today it can be done for just a few hundred dollars. None of this was feasible 10 years ago, and it wasn’t possible 5 years, and today it is a reality, he said. That can mean better treatments and better quality of life, along with substantial savings, added Megill.
Regional retailer H. H. Gregg extolled the virtues of mobility. “Our digital vision is to provide our customers a friction-free experience”, said e-commerce SVP and GM Kevin Lyons, and mobile is key to that vision. “Mobile must be a leader, not a follower.”
The mobile solution was up and running in just four months, and piloted during the holiday season, resulting in a 30% improvement in conversions and an 80% increase in revenue. “Business transformation through mobile begins and ends with customers,” said Lyons, (and) “return on relationships is the new economy.”
IBM faces a host of competitors in the cloud, ranging from the incumbent 800-pound gorilla, Amazon Web Services, to Microsoft Azure and newcomer Google. According to a new advisory from Technology Business Research, IBM and everybody else not named AWS have a long way to go to catch up in IaaS revenues.
For 1Q14, Amazon grew its revenues 74% year-over-year to an estimated $1.12B, driven by an increasing number of enterprise workloads using compute, storage and database, and a large and growing number of long-tail accounts. Microsoft and Google both generated around $30M in IaaS revenue in the quarter, and IBM took in an estimated $350M in IaaS revenue in the quarter.
AWS is all-in when it comes to enterprise penetration, growing its dedicated, high-touch sales and services team, and touting a hybrid message, said the research company. According to TBR’s Hybrid Cloud Customer Report publishing next in June, AWS lags Google, Microsoft and IBM as the primary IaaS vendor in hybrid cloud environments, but it expects AWS to improve across 2014 as new messaging and sales tactics come to fruition.
“Hybrid IT is a critical trend for AWS to address as this heterogeneous blend of IT deployment across on-premises, public clouds and private clouds is where the enterprise market is heading. Enterprises will neither leverage cloud for 100% of their IT assets nor rely on a single vendor, so an environment where AWS makes it easy to connect IT and migrate data between clouds and on premises will drive greater adoption of AWS over competitors.”
IBM segments the market by job categories and sees business, IT operations and DevOps as the core roles, said Steve Robinson, GM, Cloud Platform Services. Near term, he agrees with Cisco’s philosophy of many clouds. “Our view is one size does not fit all.”
So IBM is supporting multiple cloud methodologies, strategies and architectures. “We want to make sure we’re pushing the envelope of where cloud architectures go.”
He said the company is spending a lot of time working on the big challenges customers are talking about, including security and big data. “Our view is we will be on the forefront as cloud architectures grow.”
While IBM MobileFirst GM Marie Wieck discussed the latest mobile announcements on Monday, the new offerings weren’t officially unveiled until Tuesday. She talked about the “how” of building the composable business. “It’s all about changing the way we work.”
During her keynote she referenced a recent study on global transformation, identifying the keys to success. They included automation as the first best practice, followed by institutional knowledge, then culture and rewarding innovation and change, and last, but the most important investment, technology.
IBM’s Bob Picciano, SVP, Information & Analytics, talked about the pace of change, and the need to “seize this business moment”. He said two-thirds of organizations say their timeframes are being compressed, and then asked if the other third are even still in business. The new world is awash in data, and what sets IBM apart in this space is three things: context-aware; predictive and rules-driven; and continuous real-time at massive scale.
Although he represent the hardware side of the business, IBM’s Peter McCaffrey, Director, PureSystems, offered one of the more cogent descriptions of the overall event. “I see the biggest element of the announcements is trust. Trust is important.”
IBM brings a lot of products, services and partners to the table, but when it comes down to gambling on the future of your business, you have to wonder if IBM’s track record in serving large organizations for the better part of a century isn’t it’s biggest competitive advantage.
The other element which didn’t get a lot of focus, according to McCaffrey, was investment protection. There’s a lot of energy around the cloud platform and offerings like BlueMix, but what about the trillions of dollars spent on traditional IT environments, he asked. “How can we help customers extend and leverage their investments into the cloud?” Or be able to move seamlessly between cloud and on-premise, as necessary?
That’s one of the ways that IBM can differentiate itself, he said. “Who else is doing hybrid, on-prem and cloud?”
DISCLAIMER: Still here on IBM’s budget, and still trying to maintain my editorial integrity.