This week, Big Blue rolled out its new IBM Cloud Private software platform that is designed to enable enterprises to develop on-premises private cloud environments to accelerate app development and allow for easier movement of workloads between their private clouds and public clouds – not only the IBM Cloud but also those from other vendors. Similarly, IBM is leaning on open and container-based technologies for enhanced integration and portability of workloads. The IBM Cloud Private platform is built on Kubernetes, an open-source technology for container orchestration, and will support both Docker containers and Cloud Foundry framework.
IBM Cloud Private can run on a variety of infrastructures, including the vendor’s own mainframe and Power systems, its hyperconverged infrastructure that runs Nutanix software, and IBM Storage’s Spectrum Access solution. In addition, it can run on systems from Dell EMC, Lenovo, Cisco Systems and NetApp, and can be deployed by such VMware, Canonical and other OpenStack distributions as well as bare-metal systems. The private cloud platform also includes such developer services for data analytics as Db2, Db2 Warehouse, PostgreSQL and MongoDB, developer tools like Netcool, UrbanCode, and Cloud Brokerage and open-source management software such as Jenkins, Prometheus, Grafana, and ElasticSearch.
While this is sort of a bummer story for Pivotal (we’d like to have this account), it has a good profile of American and their needs in it. All of which are representative of other large organizations, e.g.:
Application types: “The first result is that the airline will migrate to the IBM Cloud some of its critical applications, including the main website, its customer-facing mobile app and its global network of check-in kiosks. Other workloads and tools, such as the company’s Cargo customer website, also will be moved to the IBM Cloud.”
Managed data-centers/cloud: “The airline will be able to utilize the global footprint of IBM Cloud, which consists of more than 50 data centers in 17 countries, in addition to a wide range of application development capabilities.”
Long-term planning: “We wanted to make sure that the cloud provider would be using Cloud Foundry and open-source technologies so we don’t get locked in by proprietary solutions,” Grubbs said. “We also wanted a partner that would offer us the agility to innovate at the organizational and process levels and have deep industry expertise with security at the core.”
We want to do all the new meat-ware: “As part of this process, American will work with IBM Global Services to use IBM’s Garage Methodology of creating applications through a micro-services architecture, design thinking, agile methodology, DevOps and lean development, the company said.”
Legacy, it’s how you got here: “IBM Cloud will help enable developers to build and change application functionalities for the airline’s customers. These customer-facing systems will be on the IBM Public Cloud, while American will maintain backend connectivity to other on-premise legacy and third-party systems, for true Hybrid Cloud functionality.”
There’s a lot going on: “American Airlines and its subsidiary, American Eagle, offer an average of 6,700 flights per day to about 350 destinations in more than 50 countries. American has hubs in Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Washington, D.C.”
For the full 2016 year, IBM’s revenues were off 2.1 percent to $79.85 billion, but its “real” systems business, which includes servers, storage, switching, systems software, databases, transaction monitors, and tech support and financing for its own iron, fell by 8.3 percent to $26.1 billion.
Changing the revenue mix:
IBM’s efforts to promote SoftLayer cloud and Watson cognitive computing, mobile and social and marketing software and tools, and security wares – what it calls its strategic imperatives – are almost filling in the gap left behind as the core businesses shrink. IBM wanted these strategic imperative businesses to reach $40 billion and 40 percent of revenues by 2018, and in this quarter it already hit the 40 percent mark, with $33 billion in revenues for 2016–as much because of its overall revenue decline as for the growth in these businesses.
And, some info on their hardware revenue:
IBM sold just over $8 billion in Systems products, and brought $934 million to the middle line as pre-tax income
Schroeter said that Linux-based Power Systems machines now drove 15 percent of revenues, and that is pretty good considering that two years ago it was a few percent of sales.
Gerstner questioned whether three or four years from now any proprietary version of Unix, such as Sun’s Solaris, will have a leading market position.
One of the more popular theories for the decline of Sun is that they accepted Linux way, way too late. As a counter-example, there’s IBM saying that somewhere around 2006 you’d see the steep decline of the Unix market, including Solaris, of course.
If I ever get around to writing that book on Sun, a chart showing server OS market-share from 2000 to 2016 would pair well with that quote.
In 2001, IBM publicly committed to spending $1 billion on Linux. To put this in context, that figure represented 1.2% of the company’s revenue that year and a fifth of its entire 2001 R&D spend. Between porting its own applications to Linux and porting Linux to its hardware platforms, IBM, one of the largest commercial technology vendors on the planet, was pouring a billion dollars into the ecosystem around an operating system originally written by a Finnish graduate student that no single entity — not even IBM — could ever own. By the time IBM invested in the technology, Linux was already the product of years of contributions from individual developers and businesses all over the world.
How did this investment pan out? A year later, Bill Zeitler, head of IBM’s server group, claimed that they’d made almost all of that money back. “We’ve recouped most of it in the first year in sales of software and systems. We think it was money well spent. Almost all of it, we got back.”
It’s been a name-your-own-price market for canny buyers of IBM and compatible mainframes for some time now, but according to the Wall Street Journal, Amdahl Corp is making it easy for even the meekest DP manager to turn into a hard bargainer: it is giving big computer buyers an Amdahl coffee mug and telling them it’s worth $1m if they just leave it on their desk when their IBM salesman comes to call.
Data from 451 Research’s Cloud Price Index suggests that IBM is missing a trick. By going all-in and baking SoftLayer with Bluemix, IBM would gain a leading position in the market in terms of completeness of services and global availability, as well as finally delivering a single user experience.
Owen over at 451 suggests that IBM hasn’t yet merged SoftLayer into Bluemix totally, missing out on a high ranking in cloud providers (by functionality, geographic availability, etc.). Also: “The company claims $10.2bn in cloud revenue, a growth rate of 46% Y/Y, and 20,000 new users per week.”
With Matt and Brandon fresh back from IBM’s InterConnect conference we talk about IBM’s announcements – mostly cloud related. It looks like IBM is doin’ alright, well, except for all those quarters of revenue decline aside, but maybe that’s the just what has to be stomached to evolve. We also discuss working with the corporate editorial desk and the concept of “serverless programming.”