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Consolidation and IT Service Delivery

Increasing demands from a deluge of information from social and mobile sources challenges most enterprises to provide an agile and cost-effective IT infrastructure. One approach to this problem, IT Optimization, is driven by enterprises hoping to align IT so it can be better managed with business objectives.

Converged infrastructure solutions designed to meet these requirements are being developed and marketed by many vendors including Cisco, Dell, HP, IBM, Oracle and VCE. With the costs of maintenance skyrocketing, enterprises are also looking to converged infrastructures as an answer to their perennial IT problems.

Only IBM and Oracle have well-defined, end-to-end and consolidated IT solutions that allow enterprises to tackle infrastructure, middleware and analytics as discrete solutions. IBM’s PureSystems portfolio utilizes a “Pure” prefix born out of the Expert Integrated Systems theme while Oracle uses the “Exa” prefix under the umbrella of Engineered Systems.

Some of the product families are shown in the table below:

IBM and Oracle Solution Areas

Infrastructure Application Data
IBM PureFlex PureApplication PureData
Oracle Oracle Optimized Data Center Exalogic ExaData, Exalytics

Both IBM and Oracle target existing partners of shared customers and encourage these partners to become Pure- and Exa- Ready. A greater challenge will be to get start-ups to use IBM and Oracle platforms as the underlying infrastructure to develop their SaaS solutions.

Recently I attended an IBM PureSystems Executive Summit held at Huntington Beach, California. The agenda had senior IBM executives present their strategy to help customers with their transformation. With customers depending on improved business outcomes from IT, it was not surprising that it was a major theme during the entire summit. Enterprise customers and partners shared their experience in using IBM solutions that was well received. I noted two interesting announcements:

  1. Mini-packaged PureApplication: When enterprises embark on new initiatives, they prefer a low investment that does not need approval from upper management. My biggest concern when IBM announced the PureSystems family last year was the high cost of entry with the minimum configuration of 96 cores. Earlier this month, IBM announced a much lower cost of entry with the 32 core version of the PureApplication product. The smaller package (also referred to as Cloud in a Box) enables enterprises to experiment with a lower investment and may entice mid-market companies to use the platform to support new solutions to their customers. The “Pay as You Grow” model allows qualified partners to add capacity as needed.
  2. Application Patterns: A persistent headache for enterprises is the time required for installation, configuration and management of software. IBM’s “Patterns” which are pre-optimized/integrated solutions developed by IBM and ISV partners, are meant to help PureApplication customers overcome these hurdles while also reducing the time to market for solutions. One of the new Patterns that IBM announced addressed mobile application enablement and management, which is critical to the success of many enterprises. Getting partners to leverage this pattern in delivering cloud services to customers would make it even more beneficial.

While most vendors are hawking pre-integrated systems, there are major disruptors entering the market. For example, ProfitBricks provides user-defined virtual servers of up to 48 cores each is partnering with data center leader SwitchNAP for facilities that provides start-ups optimum service solutions. If enterprise vendors want to break into the start-up space, they will have to come up with similar capabilities.

The IBM Executive Summit offered an excellent overview of the benefits of the company’s PureSystems family. While I am optimistic about the short-term success of IBM in their efforts to make IT simpler for enterprises, they will need to adapt to expectations from innovators and start-ups. In order to truly transform themselves, enterprises need to incorporate more of a start-up DNA into their culture. When enterprise vendors are able to meet the challenging and dynamic requirements from start-ups, they increase the likelihood of being able to meet new enterprise expectations.

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