IBM’s IOD Showcases DB2, Informix, InfoSphere. Now, About Marketing….

It was hard to decide where to look first in Las Vegas this year at IBM’s flagship information management event. Coming as it did on the heels of a massive, sprawling Oracle Open World, it was also overwhelming, but distinguished itself immediately by its focus. Whereas Oracle has smashed together hardware systems, apps, middleware, java and development, systems management and database into a bewildering multi-site show, IBM continues to run separate events for Websphere, Rational, Tivoli, and Lotus. No single IBM event trumpets “we’re the biggest,” and they don’t take over the towns they’re in; the content seems a bit more manageable. And as an attendee who hopes to get a broad view, I’m happy with that. However, as I’ll discuss below, Oracle is winning the messaging war nonetheless.

There was indeed talk of systems at IoD this year, as Smart Analytics Systems got a refresh and some added units on x-based platforms. Flash memory additions to the x-based 5600, bundling InfoSphere and Cognos along with an updated Linux release, provide the basis for a good story along with more cores, memory and storage. A similar story is possible for the POWER-based 7700, which also added the new Blue Darter solid state disk (SSD.) And the z audience gets the 9600, with its sidecar, the transparent offload to the Smart Analytics Optimizer. Yes, IBM has a column-based database, with innovative storage tweaks and an optimizer that knows when to use it and when not to. Great promise there.

So what’s wrong with this picture? Try this: ask 10 IT people what Exadata is, and what Smart Analytics Systems are. Ask them who makes the offerings, and what they do. Go ahead…I’ll wait….

Back? OK. Here’s what I learned, after doing that experiment at 3 events attended by IT people (data people, in fact.) 8 of 10 I asked knew Oracle makes Exadata and it’s a wicked fast platform for data. 4 of 10 knew who makes the other one, and fewer knew why. On visibility and buzz, game Oracle.

There is much more to talk about, and visibility and buzz are not everything. IBM’s numbers continue to be good, and nobody in Armonk is complaining. But the IBM Software brand needs to get more attention, more investment, and a tighter, more focused story. The good news? Conversations I’ve been having suggest that it will in 2011, and it’s about time. Read more of this post

IBM Acquires Netezza – ADBMS Consolidation Heats Up

IBM’s bid to acquire Netezza makes it official; the insurgents are at the gates. A pioneering and leading ADBMS player, Netezza is in play for approximately $1.7 billion or 6 times revenues [edited 9/30; previously said “earnings,” which is incorrect.] When it entered the market in 2001, it catalyzed an economic and architectural shift with an appliance form factor at a dramatically different price point. Titans like Teradata and Oracle (and yes, IBM) found themselves outmaneuvered as Netezza mounted a steadily improving business, adding dozens of new names every quarter, continuing to validate its market positioning as a dedicated analytic appliance. It’s no longer alone there; some analytic appliance play is now in the portfolio of most sizable vendors serious about the market. Read more of this post

Migrate From Mainframe? To What?

From Joe Clabby, www.clabbyanalytics.com

Gartner, the industry’s preeminent information technology (IT) research and analysis firm, has published several reports and case studies over the past few years that promote the idea that IT buyers should migrate their applications off of mainframes and move them to other, more “modern platforms”.  Part of Gartner’s logic, it appears, is that there is an impending-doom shortage of mainframe managers that is about to occur as elderly mainframe managers retire — so Gartner implies that moving applications to other “more modern” platforms might ensure the long term viability of enterprise applications on those platforms.

I have two major issues with Gartner’s perspective and its recommendation:

  1. Where is the proof that mainframe skills will decline to critical levels over the next several years?  And,
  2. Which “modern platform” is Gartner advocating? Read more of this post

The Mainframe Skills Shortage Urban Myth

Contributed by Joe Clabby (www.clabbyanalytics.com)

In this CounterOpinion, we challenge the advice and opinions of the Gartner Group, a well-known and highly respected IT research and analysis firm, on the subject of IBM System z (mainframe) migration. In March, 2007, Gartner put forward research suggesting that, due to the aging of the current generation of System z managers, mainframe customers might someday find themselves short of the skilled labor they need to manage their systems.  As a result, Gartner recommended that organizations might want to consider moving from mainframes to other, “more modern” platforms. (This opinion is still available on the company’s web site — search for the “Impact of Generational IT Skill Shift on Legacy Applications” [document ID number: G00146492]). Since that first report, Gartner has published other reports suggesting that enterprises reevaluate their application portfolios — and move various applications to (again) “more modern” platforms. (Note: Gartner never quite articulates which more modern platforms it is talking about…).

Clabby Analytics has two major issues with Gartner’s perspective and advice:

  1. Where is the proof that there has been/will be a major decline in mainframe skills that should cause IT executives to abandon their mainframe platforms? And,
  2. Which “more modern” platform(s) does Gartner have in mind? Read more of this post

And Then There Were Three: POWER, x86 and z

by Joe Clabby, President, Clabby Analytics. Updated from a November 2009 publication

There is a major shakeout underway in the midrange/high-end server marketplace as sales of Sun SPARC/CMT (cellular multi-threading) and Hewlett-Packard (HP) Itanium-based servers decline significantly — and as new, more powerful versions of Intel’s Xeon and IBM’s POWER micro-architectures come to market. Read more of this post

IBM InfoSphere Now Supports Informix and z

IBM’s InfoSphere Data Warehouse has been a steady growth asset. As IBM has created and acquired pieces of the infrastructure and progressively created a more complete, end-to-end offering, it has continued to add new customers to (and from) one of the largest installed bases in the world. In reviewing 2008, IBM CFO  Mark Loughridge asserted compound growth of 18% since 2006. For 2008 the claim is 100 more transactions, and 50 InfoSphere customers new to DB2 while in Q4 “distributed (non-mainframe) DB2″grew at 30% growth in constant currency terms. Read more of this post