Trends and Predictions from Big Blue

IBM managers look at key events and company strategy from 2009 and explain what it means for customers in 2010.

There's no better place to get a sense of where IT is headed than from the giant in the industry, IBM. We asked four managers at Big Blue to review key events in their group and tell us where the company is headed -- and what customers can expect -- next year.

The Mainframe is Stronger than Ever

For the mainframe, 2009 was a year of academic growth, software enhancements, and customer adoption. Recognizing the market's demand for System z and the increasing need for skilled mainframe workers, IBM announced that over 600 schools worldwide now teach System z skills. IBM also announced approximately 50 mainframe software enhancements enabling companies to drive down IT costs while increasing business flexibility and improving service. Additionally, to help customers move to an IBM platform (to lower costs and improve efficiency), IBM began the Server Consolidation and Migration Services and zRewards programs to assist with their transition. In the last year, IBM migrated more than 150 customers across a variety of industries worldwide from competitive systems to IBM mainframes. For example, Travelport selected IBM z9EC mainframes to help modernize and consolidate its data centers into a single facility. We know that affordability and the ability to perform analytics are two key components from a mainframe solution in 2010. This year, we launched nearly ten System z solution editions (packaged hardware, software and maintenance services) priced competitively against distributed systems for data warehousing, disaster recover, cloud computing, Linux and others. Next year, IBM will continue to build stronger business values for System z.

We've previewed the Smart Analytics Optimizer for System z to select customers this year, and expect to release it broadly in 2010. This solution significantly cuts query response times for business intelligence workloads on System z while maintaining the performance of the host mainframe. I'm personally excited about System z's 10-year anniversary with Linux next year. In 2009, we saw several customers (such as Bank of New Zealand and Allianz) announce their consolidation efforts by running Linux on System z.

-- Karl Freund, vice president of marketing for System z

OA Trends

This year saw the continued growth of SOA (service-oriented architecture). Contrary to some earlier claims that SOA was on the decline, industry indicators point to businesses increasingly adopting SOA technology and using it to achieve new benefits.

We expect more growth for SOA in 2010. Why? In our increasingly mobile, fast-paced world where businesses need to achieve greater efficiencies in their operations, business agility is a must-have, and those who are not able to adapt nimbly and quickly to new requirements will be left behind competitively. Customers are increasingly recognizing that SOA, along with BPM (business process management), are the drivers to help achieve this agility. Together, they are delivering benefits across the business.

Performance figures from IBM back up interest in SOA. IBM's third-quarter earnings were strong thanks in part to the performance from branded middleware, which accounted for 57 percent of IBM's software revenue. IBM WebSphere revenue grew 17 percent, and WebSphere Application Servers, a key building block for SOA deployments, grew 14 percent (after adjusting for currency fluctuations). Business integration software, which includes IBM's ILOG acquisition, grew a whopping 30 percent.

Furthermore, the firm Research & Markets estimates that the worldwide SOA market will grow from about $2 billion in 2007 to more than $9 billion by 2014. This growth confirms what we are seeing at IBM -- that companies are still investing heavily in SOA technologies."

-- Craig Hayman, general manager, IBM WebSphere, Application and Integration Middleware

Analytics Holds the Answers

Increasing data volumes and the desire for faster insight into information is driving business analytics as the next "megatrend" that will shape the data management industry in 2010. Estimated at a $105 billion IT market opportunity and a continued top priority for CIOs, business analytics initiatives will combine information integration, analytics, business intelligence, search, automatic Web spiders, data visualization, and complex event processing powered by high bandwidth and "extreme" transaction processing to instantly parse diverse, unstructured, and disconnected pieces of data.

IBM has invested more than $12 billion over the past several years to create a business analytics portfolio and we continue to expand on it based on client needs. As an indication of the growth in interest in analytics, the company assembled 4000 consultants with industry expertise to help clients use business analytics aligned to their specific business needs. In fact, in 2009 we opened six analytics centers dedicated to clients worldwide to help them take advantage of industry-specific expertise from IBM.

By combining our strengths in software, services, hardware, and research with the technologies from strategic analytics acquisitions from SRD in 2005 through SPSS this year, we can help clients turn mountains of data into insightful information for frontline employees, not just programmers and IT analysts, who can impact the bottom line of a business based on decisions they make throughout the work day.

We also expect enterprises to increase their demand for employees with analytics-related skills. Business priorities, coupled with the $1.8 trillion being spent worldwide on economic stimulus, make it clear that analytics will be needed to monitor the effectiveness of all this spending in industries such as health care, education, energy, and social services. In addition, analytics are now being infused into the infrastructure of cities as they begin to become "smarter" by transforming existing systems and optimizing the use of finite resources through new technologies to address the growing strain of unprecedented urbanization.

-- Don Campbell, IBM distinguished engineer and CTO, Analytics and Performance Management

Cloud Computing: Large Scale, End-to-End Cloud Adoption

Cloud computing captured significant attention in IT organizations worldwide in 2009 as CIOs sank their teeth into what cloud computing is and how it can be applied. We predict the real game-changing event is imminent -- when companies move beyond simply virtualizing their servers and start applying cloud computing concepts in earnest: self-service, automated processes, and elastic, massive scalability. Today, clients we talk to are actively doing private cloud proofs of concept and pilots of public cloud services.

In getting to this point, the industry has refined many important concepts that lay the foundation for a large-scale move towards cloud computing. First, different workloads drive different requirements on the cloud infrastructure. Some workloads, particularly those with special security or reliability requirements or relate to business-critical operations, are best handled today with a private cloud, where a client can retain the benefits of cloud-style management while getting fine-grained control over governance. Other workloads, such as e-mail and collaboration services, will naturally move more quickly to a public cloud delivery model due to their rapid ROI and the standardized nature of the service.

Second, "service management" provides the critical infrastructure to ensure that the cloud services a company relies on, be they public or private cloud-based, maintain service-level agreements, are properly accounted for on a per-user basis, and make efficient use of the underlying physical resources. Our experience with clients gives us confidence that the concepts of private clouds and service management will catalyze a large scale adoption of cloud computing in enterprises in 2010.

-- Dennis Quan, director of development, Autonomic Computing

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