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IBM Forum 07: The Path to Innovation

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 29-Aug-2007 21:25

Today I spent a good part of the day at the IBM Forum 07. It was an early start but worth it. I met a lot of known people there, and found out a lot more about the industry - it's amazing how things evolve...

First I will be a bit critical: I think everyone at IBM New Zealand, from General Manager Katrina Trroughton down, were the target of a viral distribution of Shift Happens (author, video, wiki) because the buzzwords and questions you see throughout the video were repeated a lot of times, by different speakers, during the whole day.

The keynote The New Working Frontier - How Our Children Are Beating Us to It, by Cliff Dennett, was worth attending. He traced a parallel between gaming and collaboration, attention management, and planning. Food for thought and very well put, although I wonder how many of the middle managers attending would feel inclined to go back to their desks and suggest something as revolutionary as using computer-based games to train and retain staff and clients. But if you attended the session, please put some work into that. It all makes sense, I assure you!

I then spent some time visiting the exhibitions around the show floor, and noticed the main topics around were virtualisation and unified communication - this a theme already present in the IBM Forum 06.

I had contrasting experiences when poking around the virtualisation area. While talking to IBM partner VMWARE I asked if I would notice any difference in performance between VMWARE Server and Microsoft Virtual Server. The technical person was clear: you might not notice any difference in performance between those two tools. And this gave me an incentive to actually try their virtualisation software later to see it by myself.

He then pointed out that VMWARE ESX Server would be a completely different thing: you see, VMWARE ESX Server is installed in the bare metal, and requires no OS to run - unlike VMWARE Server (Windows, Linux) or Microsoft Virtual Server (Windows). So one less layer to worry about, which can actually speed things up. But wait for Microsoft Hypervisor technology to show up soon...

Now the "interesting": I walked to the Integral stand (flash-based site) to find out more about their vision of Utiliy Computing. It just happens that their computing on demand solution is the use of virtual environments on blade servers, providing customers with additional power if the need arises. Well, if I understood correctly what I was told, it's like "we can run as many virtual servers you need in our hosted solution and if your requirements grows we can order more blade servers". Which to me doesn't mean "instantaneous elastic and resilient computing" under certain conditions.

Note that this approach is a bit different to what some mainframe companies are doing, where extra computing power is delivered with every system and always available on demand, with clients paying for a set level of performance, and any excess automatically metered and then charged to the client's account. Note that IBM themselves also provide some "metered computing".

But what really surprised me was when I asked the consultant to tell me how their solution compared with Amazon EC2 (Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud) and Amazon S3 (Amazon Simple Storage Service) and he didn't know about these offerings - interesting because I dare say Amazon EC2 is the cream in terms of utility computing, while Amazon S3 is the top of storage virtualisation.

But, yes, I am planning to be at the IBM Forum 08 when it comes back to town.


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Mauricio Freitas
Wellington
New Zealand


I live in New Zealand and my interests include mobile devices, good books, movies and food of course! 

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