IBM’s DS8880: Sharpening the Focus on Mainframe Storage Needs

It’s been an odd half decade or so for the data storage industry. Despite the central roles that storage plays in IT products of every sort, storage vendors have been under pressure as traditional markets and opportunities continue to erode. Why so? For two reasons. First, because of the ongoing commoditization of storage components and hardware. Second, cloud players are using what are essentially loss-leading storage services to lure consumers and businesses, alike. What are storage vendors to do in such circumstances? There’s no single or simple fix, but one approach is to willingly embrace leading edge storage technologies, like NAND-based flash drives. Another involves closely tracking and developing solutions that address clients’ core business needs. IBM’s new DS8880 all-flash storage family highlights how the company is pursuing both these paths to its customers’ and its own benefit. To read the complete article, CLICK HERE NOTE: This column was originally published in the Pund-IT...

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The Mainframe Is Dead, Dying… or DT/DevOps-ing?
Jan19

The Mainframe Is Dead, Dying… or DT/DevOps-ing?

For decades pundits and competitors have been writing off the mainframe, AKA Big Iron, and while its market share has been eroded by newer platforms — as befits an industry where ‘what have you done for me lately’ is right up there with ‘Moore’s Law’ as Revealed Truth — it’s still alive and kicking: 55% of enterprise apps need the mainframe; 70% of enterprise transactions touch a mainframe; and, 70-80% of the world’s corporate data resides on a mainframe. However at least some are arguing that despite its age — now in its ‘50s — the venerable platform that IBM powered to success is finding new life with a couple of the current industry darlings, Digital Transformation and DevOps. First, some industry factoids: the latest quarterly server data (3Q16) showed a drop in shipments (-2.6%) and revenues (-5.8%) year over year, with IBM plummeting -33% (to $889 million). However the datacenter systems market is expected to grow 2.6% this year, to $176 billion, which should benefit mainframe sales. According to many, the future does look brighter for the mainframe. When not pointing out HPE’s perceived faults, analyst Rob Enderle (and former IBMer) has covered Big Blue extensively and recently (October) noted that developments like cloud, analytics, Linux and Blockchain are offering new optimism for the embattled platform. ‘Suddenly, mainframes are not only not obsolete, they are cutting edge, go figure. Yep the mainframe is back, with a vengeance.’ Reporting on IBM’s annual year-end recap for the Systems group, analyst Joe Clabby, Clabby Analytics, noted that the mainframe’s future is positive. Big Blue was emphasizing Blockchain and HSBN (the company’s “high security business network”). ‘Blockchain serves as the basis for creating a new way to perform transaction processing, one that features a secure “open ledger” that is shared amongst all concerned parties during the transaction. This new approach streamlines transaction and business processes and enables significantly greater security that traditional approaches.’ IBM claims that it is making solid headway with this offering in the securities, trade, finance, syndicated loans, supply chain, retail banking, public records and digital property management industries. ‘For over 20 years, ever since industry pundits in the mid-1990s forecast the demise of the IBM mainframe, Clabby Analytics has taken the position that there is no other architecture better suited for processing secure transactions (and now in-transaction analytics workloads) than IBM’s z System. ‘Given this position, we see IBM’s new LinuxONE mainframe servers as ideally positioned to support a projected major market move toward Hyperledger and Blockchain transaction processing over the coming years. This movement should greatly escalate the sale of mainframe servers. Long live the mainframe!’ Released...

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IBM and AA – An Innovative Partnership Heads to the Cloud

In an IT industry that is both dynamic and frangible, an organization like IBM stands out. That’s partly due to its remarkable longevity which at a century and counting is more than two of its senior-most major competitors, HPE and Oracle, combined. But the company’s durability and its approach to computing innovation is also reflected in its relationships with customers and partners. Last week’s announcement concerning one of those customers – American Airlines (AA) – marked a notable strategic partnership and significant milestone for both organizations. Why notable? Because the agreement means that AA, the world’s largest airline (currently offering about 6,700 flights per day to nearly 350 destinations in more than 50 countries), has chosen IBM to be its cloud computing provider “for greater enterprise flexibility, scalability and reliability.” Why significant? Because the new deal is just the latest development in a partnership that dates back over six decades to the 1950s when AA and IBM developed the airline industry’s first electronic reservation and ticketing system. To read the complete article, CLICK HERE NOTE: This column was originally published in the Pund-IT...

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IBM’s Ginni Rometty – Innovation, Discomfort and Growth

One of the more unusual and impressive sessions at IBM’s recent World of Watson (WoW) customer and partner event in Las Vegas was the closing day keynote by the company’s chairman, president and CEO, Virginia “Ginni” Rometty. Why unusual? Because for many years, IBM’s senior-most leaders have seldom presented at its public-facing business conferences, mostly leaving keynote responsibilities to unit leaders or product, service and sales executives. In many cases, that was simply a matter of personal preference or reflective of the intense time and scheduling pressures that come with being IBM’s CEO. But Rometty has chosen a different course, especially since May 2015 when she keynoted at the first WoW conference and then a few days later the IBM Security Summit, both in New York. This year, Rometty keynoted at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas (a first for an IBM CEO), the World Health Care Congress, WoW and the Grace Hopper Celebration for Women in Computing (GHC). To read the complete article, CLICK HERE NOTE: This column was originally published in the Pund-IT...

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BMC: Mainframes Aren’t Going Away

Even while rumors continue to circulate that IBM is trying to unload its z Systems business, evidence continues to emerge supporting the ongoing — if not growing — need for the mainframe. Key findings from the 2016 BMC Mainframe Research Report indicate that mainframes are helping drive Digital Transformation, with ‘superior reliability, performance, and security’ cited as key factors influencing mainframe investments. “With 89% of survey respondents ( more than 1,200 executives and technical professionals) projecting continued strong support for the mainframe, it is clear that companies view the mainframe as a long-term platform,” said Bill Miller, president of ZSolutions Optimization at BMC, in a prepared statement. It is also clear that the company has a vested interest — and 25% of their annual revenues — tied up in mainframes, but as BMC’s John McKenny, VP Marketing and Customer Support of ZSolutions, told IT Trends & Analysis, the research data, including the information they keep private, provides a better understanding of what the different customer segments are doing, and looking for. The respondents fall into three categories: -58% are in the increasing group and looking to grow their investment and use of the mainframe; -23% indicate they will keep a steady amount of work on the mainframe; and, -19% plan to reduce the usage of the platform. For the third segment, reducing cost was the number one concern, said McKenny. They are “not going to get off in the next few months… or years… and we have developed solutions that can help with cost,” he added. One of the interesting findings with the ‘increasing group’  was that automation and analytics had risen to the fourth priority. “From a tactical perspective, we use a lot of this information… we have a lot more that we don’t share publicly… to help us be laser-focused with customers”. Server shipments — including mainframes — increased 2% year-over-year in the second quarter, but revenue dipped 0.8%. IBM, which held down third place, was way behind front-runners Dell and Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), and turned in the worst performance, with 9.1% ($1.2 billion) of the market, down -34.4%. Apparently the z Series was the biggest culprit, with a -40% YoY decline, while the Power-based servers fell a mere -24%. One reason Big Blue may be waffling over selling the business is the profits it makes: with a gross margin of 56.5%, it’s second only to IBM’s Cognitive Solutions segment. Another reason is the upcoming release of the Power9 CPU, which is due out next year and is reported will be competitive with Intel Xeon Servers, something the current generation can’t provide. According to IBM, mainframes...

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