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CloudsThe month of June was another busy one at IBM with a flurry of announcements in hardware, software, services, acquisitions, and strategic alliances. The complete index of IBM Happenings (by year and month) is here. A major focus area in addition to a “smarter planet” is is Cloud Computing. IBM introduced the industry’s first set of commercial cloud services and integrated products for the enterprise. This is an important and strategic move for the company. It reminds me of some disruptive times during my IBM career (hard to believe it began 42 years ago).
Disruption is usually associated with a technological shift but I have observed that the disruption is preceded by and accompanied by a “dissatisfier”. We have seen this movie three times.
In the 1980’s the dissatisfier was departments in enterprises that were dissatisfied with how long it took for the IT department to introduce new applications that addressed departmental needs. Departments started using spreadsheets on PC’s, sometimes acquired by finding a way to bypass IT department approval. Then companies like Novell offered “server” PC’s that allowed the spreadsheets to be centralized and shared by all the PC’s. Departments sometimes did their own network wiring to install “local area networks“. The IT department lost control. IBM was not the director of this movie and concentrated on defending the mainframe turf instead of embracing the disruption. The company was in the audience.
The second movie was in the mid 1990’s. It was called the the World Wide Web — a breakthrough application of the Internet. The dissatisfier was that there were many thousands of physicists in the world who wanted to gain access to a huge amount of data being created from particle physics experiments at CERN in Switzerland. The data was created in many different formats and the people wanting to use the data had many different kinds of computers. Enter Tim Berners-Lee with a new document format called HTML and an Internet protocol called HTTP. The result was any computer with a “browser” that could read HTML could get the data they wanted including multi-media. It was a major disruptive change to how all things IT worked. IBM did not sit in the audience for this movie. While Microsoft and Netscape (illegally driven out of business by Microsoft) were fighting over who had the best browser, IBM was making major investments behind the scenes to insure that all of it’s hardware and software supported the Internet. In 1996 Lou Gerstner, the former CEO of IBM, introduced the term “e-Business“. The company developed a layer of middleware called Webshphere that allowed enterprises to link all their applications to the web. This movie made $billions. There is much more to the story than summarized in this short paragraph. Take a look at Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance? Inside IBM’s Historic Turnaround by Lou Gerstner and Net Attitude by yours truly (now available to read free on the web).

The current movie is about Cloud Computing. IBM is planning for a repeat of the success it had with e-business. This time the dissatisfier is that IT applications have become too too costly and too difficult to use. A good example is Microsoft Office. I call it the “global IT tax”. GE decided to confront this by going to cloud computing with Zoho.com. While Google, Zoho, Microsoft, Amazon and countless others are waging “cloud wars” over the consumer, IBM is behind the scenes again this time building a range of cloud offerings for the enterprise — cloud tools for developers, public clouds to enable more efficient offerings for all of the enterprise’s constituencies, private clouds to replace intranets, and research clouds for academia. The offerings announced in June are the tip of the iceberg. Stay tuned for much more from IBM in the clouds.
Much as client-server computing and the Internet transformed how people interact with other people and with data, cloud computing will transform these things yet again. With every computer in the world connected to every other computer through various clouds the potential to deliver data and collaborate around it will dwarf today’s capabilities and at a lower unit cost. The data.gov project that Vivek Kundra talked about at the Wired Conference may be a model followed by enterprises. The idea is that when something happens — a transaction, a widget gets ordered or shipped or had a service issue or a patient sees a doctor or has a procedure, the data will be in the cloud for others (who are authorized) to see it on a real-time basis. This is going to be an exciting movie and we will all be able to watch it in the clouds. (See other stories on cloud computing here at patrickWeb).
Epilogue: IBM has received considerable recognition for leadership with the World Community Grid. The grid can run virtual chemistry experiments to determine which of the millions of small molecules can attach to the influenza virus and inhibit it from spreading. There is the potential to make the world a better place because of this project. If you want to donate your surplus computer time to some of the great causes IBM is working on, take a look at worldcommunitygrid.org. Also, see IBM Happenings for May for more on the influenza project.

List of Announcements for June 2009

IBM expands information software portfolio

IBM is expanding its Information Management capabilities and providing industry specific, analytic applications in the areas of financial performance, human capital management and customer management.

IBM helps organizations transform software investments

At the 2009 Rational Software Conference, IBM announced new products and services to help organizations align their business strategies with their investments in software.

IBM survey shows gap in green strategies

IBM’s second annual global corporate social responsibility survey of senior business executives again shows between their goals and their ability to attain them.

Microsoft Partners flock to IBM appliance

In the first five months of 2009, more than 1,000 Microsoft Business Partners have signed up to sell IBM’s Lotus Foundations “office-in-a-box” appliance.

Companies choose Lotus software over Microsoft

IBM announced major enterprise client wins for Lotus collaboration software over Microsoft as businesses seek cost efficiencies in today’s economic climate.

IBM joins ITS America for traffic congestion challenge

The ITS Congestion Challenge is the first global competition to identify the best ideas to reduce congestion and mitigate its impact on the economy and environment.

IBM delivers new System z software

IBM plans to release approximately 30 new software technology enhancements in 2009 that extend the advantages of using System z.

IBM opens Rail Innovation Center in China

IBM’s new Global Rail Innovation Center will bring together the world’s foremost industry leaders, researchers and universities to advance next-generation rail systems.

IBM launches social networking community for partners

IBM PartnerWorld Communities will connect more than 100,000 partners worldwide on emerging business opportunities such as analytics, cloud computing, green IT and economic stimulus projects.

IBM honors 2009 Beacon Award winners

The Beacon Awards competition recognizes IBM Business Partners for outstanding delivery of value to clients and innovative approaches to solving business issues.

IBM launches intelligent security system at Chicago’s Navy Pier

IBM announced the creation of one of the world’s most advanced, integrated network video monitoring systems for Chicago’s Navy Pier.

InterContinental Hotels and IBM boost guest experience

IBM announced the first deployment of its “Hotel-in-a-Box” solution at Holiday Inn Express properties in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

IBM helps Saudi Arabia build smarter government

IBM has completed the deployment of an infrastructure that will modernize the delivery of government services for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

IBM readies cloud for business

IBM introduced the industry’s first set of commercial cloud services and integrated products for the enterprise. This will give clients a reliable way to standardize IT functions that are rapidly becoming too costly or difficult to use.

IBM unleashes new symphony for Office users

IBM is providing support for Microsoft Office 2007 with the newest version of Lotus Symphony, IBM’s free of charge productivity software suite.

IBM to invest $100 million to advance mobile services

The three focus areas for IBM’s research investment are mobile enterprise enablement, emerging market mobility and enterprise end-user mobile experiences.

IBM builds public safety system in South Korea

IBM has been selected to implement a city infrastructure project as part of the U-safety City project for Incheon Free Economic Zone.

IBM unveils mobile applications for Wimbledon

The All England Lawn Tennis Club and IBM unveiled smart mobile applications designed to transform how fans access information and keep up with the action at Wimbledon 2009.

IBM extends green reach through collaboration

IBM detailed new computing systems, research initiatives, client results and partnerships aimed to reduce energy costs and consumption.

IBM helps cities prepare for challenges of urbanization

IBM’s Smarter City Assessment Tool helps cities better understand and meet the new demands of an increasingly urbanized world.

IBM extends cloud service portfolio

IBM newest cloud service — LotusLive Connections — combines business social networking with collaboration tools.

IBM tops supercomputer list for 10th year

For a record-setting tenth consecutive time, an IBM system holds the number one position in the ranking of the world’s most powerful supercomputers.

IBM survey tracks consumers’ food safety doubts

The survey of 1,000 consumers in the 10 largest cities nationwide shows that consumers are increasingly wary of the safety of food purchased at grocery stores.