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 Touts Software’s Role in Infrastructure Security, Efficiency

In April, IBM used two events to roll out important software elements of its Dynamic Infrastructure strategy. On the 20th, IBM chose the RSA Conference in San Francisco, the world’s largest security event, to highlight its progress with integrating products from existing brand families like Tivoli and Rational – with special focus on the Internet Security Systems (ISS) line and its X-Force R&D team, a preemptively focused organization whose work underpins much of the security innovation taking place.

A week later, IBM hosted a summit for hundreds of executives and a few industry analysts to roll out a series of products and initiatives, principally from the hardware side of the firm, but again featuring software from several company brands and IBM Research efforts. Common to both events was the increasing focus on end-to-end, suite-based deliverables with substantial services offerings from IBM’s own Global Business Services team as well as training, certification and support efforts for partners. IBM’s aggressive acquisition strategy was also much in evidence, as the integration, extension and rebranding of acquired products from 2007 and 2008 was showcased frequently. Read more of this post

IBM Acquires Exeros – Information Agenda Gets A Boost

IBM has taken another key step in its Information Agenda strategy, improving customers’ ability to analyze, understand and remediate existing data by acquiring Exeros. There is a fundamental business problem that grows with data volume: an understanding gap. As new development, acquisition and integration of multiple systems takes place, meaning and process understanding are often obscured or lost entirely. At the edge, this is manifested when new BI efforts attempt to find data and its meaning. Exeros Discovery is a leading solution to that problem. My good friend Jim Kobielus of Forrester has provided some excellent background in his blog here. Some other firms are also pursuing this kind of BI-related analysis; Balanced Insight comes to mind, and I’ll blog about them soon. IBM’s ambition is broader than that, and acquiring Exeros is a key enabler of its vision. Read more of this post

DB2 9.7 Focuses on Costs, Simpler Management

IBM has announced, a bit earlier than originally planned, DB2 9.7 as well as InfoSphere Warehouse 9.7 (we’ll cover the latter in another post). A steady 3rd place in the DBMS market behind Oracle and Microsoft, DB2 nonetheless continues to make gains. IBM claims that its non-mainframe (IBM calls it “distributed”) DB2 revenue grew at a compounded 14% rate for the last 12 quarters. And in the face of a very difficult economic environment, IBM claims 30% growth for distributed DB2 in Q408. Read more of this post