First off, and for the record, I was at IBM Edge 2015 for the entire week as a guest of IBM. I doubt that they sprung for my room and board because of my pleasant personality, or for that matter in exchange for my skills as a fat-fingering live Tweeter. Those things they could get from any number of folks.
Rather, I try to sweeten the pot by offering to sing for my supper — that is, to present at the IBM Technical University as a guest speaker. At this Edge, as at the three prior iterations of the event, it was my pleasure to contribute my two centavos in exchange for a nice room in one of Sheldon Adelson’s nice hotels. Maurice “Mo” McCullough made sure that I had five afternoon slots on the itinerary, while Mary Hall and Sarah Katsenmaier made sure that I lost no weight despite the long walks between my hotel room and the Venetian Convention Center venue. Special thanks to these folks for helping to make the trip so successful.
One other person who really deserves mention is Lizbeth Ramirez Letechipia who lined me up with IBM executives and business partners so I could do more video interviews. We are in the process of cutting up the videos now and should have them ready to post as early as next week provided IBM’s reviewers are able to give the nod to my clips.
Back to the event.
I was thoroughly impressed with the general sessions on days one and two, though the day 2 general session, which featured more customers than IBMers, really went over well for me. In particular, I liked the demonstration of evolving genomics tools that apply Big Data analytics to the problem of finding the right combination of meds for a person with a given genetic and behavioral profile. Way cool.
Walmart also impressed in the first day session, stressing the central role of mainframes in these days of mobile commerce and high transaction volumes. They underscored the point that IBM was making throughout the conference regarding the Starburst Effect created by mobile user transactions: one transaction generates between 10 and 100 back end processes, and generates a lot of data. According to Walmart, the z13 mainframe is just what the doctor ordered to coordinate all of these processes with appropriate levels of uptime and throughput.
This isn’t the first time I have heard the story of the Starburst Effect, but WalMart did a good job of illustrating it with practical detail that left just about every IBM customer in the hall nodding their heads or glancing nervously around to see whether their bosses might be hearing that that “dinosaur” technology (mainframes) they had recommended to kick to the curb a few years ago is suddenly the darling of the hybrid data center and a critical element in any sort of viable m-commerce strategy.
Bottom line: this IBM Edge conference had good signal to noise and provided a content rich environment for those seeking to plumb the technology products and expertise of Big Blue as they brave the world of x86 virtualization, data lakes, software-defined storage, and the mainframe. The only disappointing thing to me was the lack of mention of tape technology in the two general sessions, despite the collective productization of Linear Tape File System, GPFS file system, and IBM tape automation technology in a bucket called Spectrum Archive.
Re the whole Spectrum re-branding effort, I am not sure that I really like it…not that my opinion counts for anything much. I first heard references to Spectrum when I interviewed an IBM engineer on this blog, who was mentioning different implementation options for XIV software that IBM had come up with. You could deploy it simply as software defined storage (SDS) software (which is what it was before IBM joined it to a proprietary controller to create the XIV array), or in the future as a component of the IBM SAN Volume Controller, or you could buy it pre-installed on an XIV array. Each of these alternatives, I was told somewhat jokingly, would have its own Spectrum product name.
Okay, I get the need or desire for branding consistency, but by the 400th time I heard someone stumbling over which Spectrum [insert product name here] category a certain IBM product fit, I was over it.
The smartest thing I heard at the show was in passing at the end of a TechU session. A woman who works on Systems Managed Storage stated that IBM invented software-defined storage because, way back when, all of the value add software for storage was hosted on the mainframe and all of the direct-attached storage devices were simply cabled via bus and tag, ESCON or FICON to the backplane of the box. Truer words were never spoken.
Here are my decks from IBM Edge Technical University in PDF form in case anyone wants to review them. Just click on the deck and it should download to your browser directly. I hope everyone will register for next year’s show, which takes place in the same venue — but in October. Watch this space for more details.