Tag Archives: software

New Observations on Cloud Computing

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been at both the All About the Cloud event out in California which is the premier event for cloud focused ISVs, and then the IBM Innovate event, which is the premier event for software development.  Quite naturally cloud computing was a hot topics at both events.

In reflecting on what’s “new and different” about the cloud discussions of late – three observations come to mind –

1) The tone is much more serious and business oriented

While past events were full of hype, hoopla, hyperbole, and evangelists spouting about how cloud will change the world and change IT forever, the tone has now shifted.  Off all the presentations I saw or took part in, only one still had the mega-hype tonality.  The rest of the dialogue has finally shifted to cloud driving business results – cost savings, speed of innovation and implementation, deployment flexibility, etc.  These better business outcomes are always required for broader adoption of any technology solution, so it’s nice to see the shift finally taking place in the cloud space.  As Bill McNee of Saugatuck Technology pointed out in his keynote address – sometimes it just takes a good recession to get people focused on business outcomes again.

2) Growing recognition of IBM’s prowess in this space

Now that IBM has completed 2000+ cloud projects — and is working with 5 of the Fortune 10, and 50% of the Fortune 500 on cloud projects — clients and partners are realizing how powerful our solutions portfolio is for cloud computing.  We now have all of our major software available via the cloud, we have CPU, storage and compute functions rentable in the cloud, and we have a whole range of design, test, and implementation services for public and private cloud deployments.

3) Growing recognition of the importance of open standards and interoperability.

Given the growth of both public clouds and private clouds – there is now tremendous demand for a set of standards and interoperability.  IBM was pleased to be help the OMG Group launch the Cloud Standards Customer Council that now has over 150 members and meets again next week to continue the important work of building out a set of open standards.  You’ll see the members range from large telcos and Fortune 50 clients to small service providers and even universities.  The group already has some important use use cases and requirements for open cloud computing being drafted – so be sure to join (its free to join) and contribute to this important work for our industry.

What are your thoughts?  Are you seeing similar trends and themes?

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IBM’s New Cloud Partner Program – Day 2 Thoughts

Yesterday I had the pleasure of unveiling our IBM Cloud Partner program at our Partnerworld Leadership event in Orlando – and judging by the early feedback and press it’s looking like a hit!

We all know Cloud is a big opportunity – and as a new delivery model it has serious implications for every type of partner in the ecosystem. Because of the breadth of our IBM strategy, we had quite a challenge to develop the right single partner program to enable all of our partners to take advantage of this opportunity and accelerate their success in the marketplace.   Our IBM strategy spans building private clouds for clients, enabling cloud builders, operators and integrators with our technologies and solutions for the cloud, partnering deeply with cloud application providers, and building our public cloud business process solutions such as Lotuslive (which now has more than 18 million users!).

As you can imagine – enabling these various business models requires a range of capabilities and certifications.  The good news is that for many partners, they are seeing a lot of value in the cloud sales and technical training classes we provide to help them hone their selling, and their solution engagements with clients.   Given our experience from executing thousands of cloud projects around the globe in the past year – it’s a privilege to harvest all those engagements for learnings and insight we are now sharing with partners in these programs.

It has been great to see some of our best partners here this week.  Last night I finally was able to meet Larry Augustin, CEO of SugarCRM – and was encouraged to find out he is a fellow DomerSugarCRM and Lotuslive now have a great connection in the cloud – be sure to check it out if you haven’t seen it.  And Feyzi Fatehi is here too from Corent Technology. For all our application partners – if you are dealing with the decision of how to get to a multi-tenant model be sure you talk to Feyzi and his team – they have a solution to quickly transform single-tenant software applications into multi-tenant SaaS solutions without rewriting the existing application.

Indian Perspective on Global Leadership

As many of you know, I’ve been traveling in India last week and this week to work both with key software partners, as well as to spend time with our rapidly expanding IBM India Software Marketing Center of Excellence.

As part of IBM’s transformation to become a globally integrated enterprise, our goal is to ensure we are leverage the best talent available all around the world, while simultaneously shifting talent to the best market opportunities.  Obviously this requires quite an adept organization and strong leadership to ensure we are always focusing on the right product areas (software, services, high-value servers and not longer PCs), the right geographic markets (more focus on high-growth emerging markets like China, India, Brazil, etc.) and the right client opportunities (more focus in the last few years on small and mid-size clients.)

Managing to keep, retain, and shift talent to meet this ever changing business dynamic requires careful leadership and a truly global perspective.   As I sat at breakfast this morning in Mumbai, India I was reading today’s The Economic Times – and ironically enough, they had a piece on their op-ed page that talks precisely about global leadership and managing talent.  The author – Kumar Mangalam Birla is chairman of the Aditya Birla Group – which is a $28B Indian Company that is part of the Fortune 500 and has subsidiaries that compete in everything from cement and aluminum production to mobile telephones and grocery stores.

In his piece that was printed today he argues that –

Being a true-blue MNC [multi-national company] is only partly about geographic spread. It is relatively simple to address cross-border issues pertaining to technology, finance, markets and products. But extremely difficult to cope up with challenges relating to the human dimension. Global leadership is all about developing a mindset that wants to leverage resources seamlessly, across geographic boundaries. A mindset that is eager to build unique capabilities, to transcend the barriers of cultures in order to create value. It’s about being global in attitudes — but without letting go of your roots.”

I think this offers a great perspective on the true nature of global leadership.  Last week I had the privilege of meeting many of our newest members of the  IBM Software Marketing Center of Excellence Team here in India – and I know they will help us blaze the trail toward creating the best possible value for our IBM clients by leveraging resources seamlessly regardless of their geographic location.

Below are a couple of photos of our new teammates!

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rountable talking with India Team

IBM Software available in the cloud….

Given all the excitement around cloud computing, as I travel around meeting with partners I’ve been receiving a lot of questions about the IBM-Amazon partnership to feature our IBM Software on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) platform.

Quite simply, clients told us that they wanted IBM software available on AWS and we’re delivering it.  Customers and developers can now use IBM software on a public elastic cloud environment.  Our partnership provides a new “pay-as-you-go” model that provides unprecedented access to development and production instances of many IBM software products.

There are three ways to take advantage of this cloud solution:
1) Development and Test Environments – Those of you building commercially available solutions can access IBM Development Amazon Machine Images (AMIs) that include product-level code – with all features and options enabled on a scalable, secure, and cost-effective cloud computing environment. You pay AWS only for your time and the capacity – there is no charge for the IBM software component.  Have a proof of concept project?  Need to do some training and don’t have idle server capacity?  Use any of the Development AMIs in EC2 and only pay for the minimal EC2 charges which start at just $0.10 an hour.  Find out more here!

2) Production Environments – All developers and customers can run development and full production instances of IBM software for an hourly price per instance and these can be used for revenue generating activities (unlike the development only environment above). The Production AMIs include the IBM software, the Novell SUSE operating system and the Amazon EC2 service for a single hourly charge per instance.  All charges are billed by Amazon Web Services and use of service is governed by Amazon Web Services.

Do you have an event you’re planning?  To get the project moving quickly and avoid lengthy procurement cycles and capital expenditures etc, you can get started in a matter of minutes with the WebSphere Portal Server with Lotus Web Content Management AMI.  You pay hourly for use – there’s no license, no contract needed.  And – you can bring down the site when the event is over without a penalty or additional charges.  Details are  here!

3) Run your existing IBM Software in the cloud – new licensing guidelines now allow you to run your already-purchased IBM software on Amazon EC2.  Do you have licenses sitting idle because you can’t get the hardware in place?  Just need more compute infrastructure? You can now move your licenses into the cloud without additional capital expenditures for your customers!  Here is how to get started with BYOL….

Let me know if you are using these environments and how it’s working for your business!

What If We Had Smarter Insurance?

Over this past weekend I spent part of Father’s Day watching the U.S. Open Golf Tournament, which was once again a striking display of how competitive pressure and being atop the leaderboard can result in rapid changes in the standings and an unexpected winner.  More on that some other time….

During the final two days of the tourney, the commentators were abounding in “what if” analysis given the rapid changes in the standings as the final rounds of golf were played.   As  I watched, I was also struck by how Metlife  has changed their marketing slogan to be “for the IF in life” as evidenced by presence of the Metlife Blimp in the skies over the U.S. Open course.

Then just a few hours later I was off to Toronto and Montreal to meet with two of our key software partners that have solutions to help our clients in the Insurance industry become “smarter.”   As many of you know, Insurance is one of the 13 key industries that IBM is focused on with our Smarter Planet initiative, and for Insurance companies we have a very defined point of view on the future of insurance that you can understand by viewing these videos.

Camilion Solutions is focused on helping insurance companies develop “product agility” for their products – or said differently – increase the speed and flexibility of how insurance companies can develop new offerings and solutions for their clients.  Most insurance firms have to invest significantly in IT each time they create new products, since as information based businesses they have to link their IT and their products so the right information is collected from clients to enable the rating, pricing and risk management associated with the each policy that is issued and the overall insurance risk pool they carry as a company.     Obviously this doesn’t seem like a fast, lean process for most insurance firms – thus the opportunity for Camilion!  They help clients define products as collections of re-usable “components”, store all product information in one central place, and make this accurate and consistent product information accessible by all stakeholders and systems, across products and even lines of business.   The intended result – increased speed to market, lower risk, and reduced costs.  And for us as clients this means better tailored, more flexible products for our insurance needs.

Then on Tuesday I spent most of the day with Silanis Technology.  If you have ever applied for any type of insurance, you know full well the mountains of paperwork that are required during the application process, and then again once as you are issued a policy.   Despite all the technology in the world, most important transactions like insurance, or buying a home, require an avalanche of paper to be printed out and signed.  Now however,  we can be smarter – with the solution offered by Silanis.   They invented the technology and the business process management solution to handle this type of complexity and they automate the business processes requiring secure, compliant and legally enforceable, electronic signatures and records. They pioneered the electronic signature market more than 17 years ago, and have developed a very large client base.   In many ways they automated “the last inch” of so many processes – where all the documents are created electronically (thankfully no more typewriters and carbon copies!) – but we still print the docs to sign, and then send them off to somewhere to be scanned into electronic records!

It seems like adoption of this type of solution has also accelerated since new legal guidelines for e-signatures were issued in most countries beginning in 2000.  Next time you get an insurance policy, or close on a new home, you might be able to do it all online – saving all that paper printing, all the courier fees, and even the fees to show up at the lawyer’s office in person.  Imagine a world where we don’t have to print all those docs  and how that will contribute to saving our environment!  That sounds like a good first step toward a smarter planet.

Even BIGGER breakthroughs are possible when we then combine real time indicators of risk with real time analytics and business model innovation.  One cool example was unveiled today at the Global Humanitarian Forum in Geneva.   Farmers in developing countries can now take advantage of new Index Insurance contracts to help them insure their crops from a severe drought.  These contracts link the insurance to a measure of the weather in a certain region (i.e. rainfall amount), so that the insurance company can measure the index without having to visit each individual policy holder (huge field cost!) to assess the risk and damage claims. Now farmers who often live on $2 per day can get access to bank loans and lines of credit that are backed by these insurance policies, and can significantly improve their quality of life in a way never before possible.  So far more than 2 million farmers have been aided by this new type of insurance.

Now that sounds like a smarter planet to me!