IBM’s Pure Leap Over Its Converged Infrastructure Rivals

Before there was Cloud, OpenStack, Puppet or Chef, vBlocks or FlexPods, there was IBM Research and Autonomic Computing.  Its vision is simple, elegant, and futuristic; “Systems manage themselves according to an administrator’s goals.  New components integrate as effortlessly as a new cell establishes itself in the human body.  These ideas are not science fiction, but elements of the grand challenge to creating self-managing computing systems.”

Flash forward to December 12, 2008 when Network World wrote an article entitled “Cisco planning significant data center assault." In Jack Duffy’s article, he writes about Cisco’s project California and Cisco’s idea of unified computing.  Even the analysts were skeptical as Zeus Kerravala of the Yankee Group said, “Can they (Cisco) really make the credible transition to an IT vendor from a networking vendor?”

Meanwhile, IBM countered by purchasing BLADE Network Technologies in September of 2010. However, many believed this was a move to keep BLADE out of the hands of HP and not directly aimed at Cisco’s new platform.   Additionally, IBM entered into a partnership with Brocade to provide a converged network solution for IBM BladeCenter and released dramatization within a YouTube video.

Flash forward to January 25, 2012 when Cisco released a press release entitled “Cisco Tops 10,000 Unified Computing System Customers; Captures 53 Industry Benchmark World Records," whereby Cisco answered Mr. Kerravala’s question with a resounding YES!

Meanwhile, the engineers at IBM must have been smiling as they were well into a three-year $2 billion research investment to create the PureSystems line and on April 10th, they announced it to the world. As Rod Adkins, senior vice president of IBM’s systems and technology group said, “These systems operate with a single pane of glass, support multiple architectures, OSes and hypervisors all with cloud management capabilities.  We’ve developed a better scheme and you don’t have to force things to a rack.”

With this announcement, IBM has both legitimized the converged infrastructure market and signaled to their mature and immature rivals that the king of infrastructure is still in charge.  Bolstered with the ability to support both x86 and Power chipsets, with the added flexibility of supporting multiple hypervisors, this system positions IBM for today and the foreseeable future, a significant achievement in the history of IBM.

In fact, one may argue that IBM has just leapfrogged the entire converged infrastructure market by introducing a new concept called Patterns of Expertise.  Imagine the system itself having the intelligence to perform complex tasks based on more than 150 patterns of expertise that have been developed and optimized for IBM PureSystems by more than 125 ISVs?  It sounds like IBM is giving the VCE a serious run for its money and backing it not by a consortium of 3, but by the power of one.

As Lou Gerstner, former CEO and Chairman of IBM, famously said, “You can never be comfortable with your success, you’ve got to be paranoid you’re going to lose it.”

In the end, IBM Research into Autonomic Computing, R&D, Software, Systems, and more have come together to build an innovative and disruptive product that now must leap from the on-paper hype to the on-floor proving grounds of datacenters around the world.



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