Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Monday, July 22, 2024

IBM Cloud Guru Stresses Need For Speed 

Technology, rather than budget or efficiency considerations, is driving enterprise decision-making, the head of IBM's cloud operations told the attendees of the opening session of the Red Hat Summit.

Deepak Advani, IBM's general manager of cloud and smarter infrastructure, also made the case for a "dynamic cloud," a hybrid public-private environment that "adapts to the changing business needs" of customers.

Advani described the results of IBM's most recent C-level survey about the factors driving their businesses. Increasingly, senior executives surveyed stressed that "technology is driving a lot of change, it's creating opportunities to build a competitive advantage – maybe the only thing that can enable companies to build a competitive advantage," Advani told the conference.

IBM has narrowed its enterprise focus to big data and analytics, "engagement" and, of course, cloud computing.

The vast quantities of structured and unstructured data both inside and outside of enterprises, when connected, "can give you tremendous insights," the IBM evangelist said. "The next frontier is cognitive computing."

Customer engagement is also pushing companies to reduce response time to as little as five minutes. "We are living in an instant-gratification world" that creates opportunities along with challenges, Advani argued.

Advani spent the majority of his keynote describing the company's cloud strategy, which focuses on customer agility. Cloud customers have to "get something out there," and "they've got to move with speed." But many customers complain that their IT departments are not keeping pace with key business objectives.

Hence, IT departments must increasingly become technology brokers who can deliver a cloud infrastructure that fulfills the need for speed.

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Others would quibble with parts of IBM's assessment that technology alone is the key driver of business decisions. For example, VMware CEO Patrick Gelsinger argued during the recent Interop conference that IT budgets are being squeezed. Gelsinger asserted that the savings achieved through virtualization – VMware's bread and butter – is what ultimately pays for technology upgrades.

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Advani agreed that IT departments are being asked to do more with less. For example, system maintenance consumes 70 percent of IT budgets, IBM estimates. The company's pitch is that cloud computing is providing more options to IT managers under constant pressure to get the lead out.

In that respect, Advani echoed Gelsinger's assessment: Software-defined datacenters that include virtualized storage and networks along with computing are creating efficiencies that are "freeing up resources that are enabling you to invest in innovation," the IBM manager said.

The "dynamic cloud" underpins what IBM calls the "composable business," that is, an integrated enterprise in which developers can quickly turn new application programming interfaces, for example, into the basis for new products.

"Adaptive, responsive, hybrid cloud, we believe, is critical to a composable business," Advani argued. "In order for this to become real, open standards become absolutely fundamental. I would argue that without open standards some of the other things are just not possible."

Hence, IBM is promoting the OpenPower hardware ecosystem along with OpenStack cloud software while working with Red Hat to promote the cloud-computing project.

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 30 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as executive editor of Electronic Engineering Times. Leopold is the author of "Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom" (Purdue University Press, 2016).

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