A point of view on Smarter Computing – Part 3


Below is part 3 of a three-part series relaying my recent interview with IBM Distinguished Engineer and UK and Ireland Systems and Technology Group CTO John Easton on his point of view on Smarter Computing. Be sure to check out part 1 and part 2 to capture the full interview.

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Q4. In theory, all industries with IT (which is the majority of industries) should see a benefit in using PureSystems and most likely relate to the base level of Pure, for example, Flex System or possibly PureFlex System. However, it seems that the take-up currently is really when an industry falls into certain use cases. A common use case seems to be when a client needs to provide or deploy services quickly. If they have this requirement, then PureSystems can provide the infrastructure to enable it. What do you think?

A4. I think you have highlighted an interesting point, and this is something I do not think we as an IT industry have really thought of much yet. I think where you have the requirement to deploy infrastructure quickly this is very much a cloud ready requirement that is very dynamic. I need a new service, I run the new service for a little bit, and I throw it away or get rid of it at the end because I have finished using it type model. A PureSystems offering is great for that and I think the challenge is, again, coming back to the way organizations run their IT today. I do not think we have got into the “give it back” mentality when I am not using it. Maybe this is due to the existing charging models that enterprises tend to build their pricing around. If they do chargeback of resource usage it is not getting reflected in the pricing. You know you are paying regardless of whether you are using the resource or not, rather than, you know you pay when you use it, you don’t pay when you are not using it.

If you get a forward-thinking enterprise that starts looking much more into usage-based pricing or consumption-based pricing of IT internally, that would help drive the case even further for PureSystems solutions. I think one of the other challenges is that when you have the mentality of “I stand up a system and it is now going to run for the rest of time,” what we have not yet really done as much with relating to PureSystems is to look at this ongoing maintenance. We have done a lot, but need to do much more. How do we make the ongoing running of the system simpler and easier? This includes the patching, the backup, the updating and all of those sorts of things. How do we make that easier in an environment where you know these things are going to be running for the rest of time? I think there is still some work to be done.

There are definitely some things that a PureSystems offering makes easier, but it is still very much focused on deploying a new service and throwing it away at the end, rather than deploying a new service and keeping it running throughout. For example, I want a development / sandbox and I can deploy a new development / sandbox environment very quickly. This is also good for development / test environments. The trouble is, this might be good for development, but very often the test environments are the ones that tend to stay around longer because once you have loaded it with data you do not want to get rid of it because it took you too long to deploy it.

So I think if you could get an organization that does a lot of development and testing type work, to think about doing this in a new way, this would be another example of a use case that would make PureSystems solutions much more applicable to multiple industries than they are maybe today.

Q5. Are there any other points around Smarter Computing either in IBM or the industry that you want to add?

A5. I think one interesting trend that again we are only really starting to see is around software defined networking. Software defined networking is very interesting because it means that it is much easier to change what the network is and does when it is a set of software configurations, rather than a set of hard coded bits or a piece of hardware.

This could be part of data ready, for example, an analytics ready type environment. I am deploying new services into this environment and I want to be able to create the services with different qualities of service, dedicated paths to and dedicated pools of data. Doing this in a software defined networking fashion is a lot easier than doing it in a hardware defined fashion. One of the other things about the software defined networking theme is that it helps rest control away from network hardware companies who want to implement completely using hardware. So currently you will probably find that network hardware companies are keeping software defined network and OpenFlow very much at arm’s length and saying, “No, you do not want to do that,” because obviously that is eating into their core business. The more we can encourage clients to go down the software defined networking route, the less reliance on specific network hardware and therefore increase in network flexibility.

I think software defined networking will become increasingly important, because again, if you think about cloud ready, data ready and security ready, networking underpins all of that. Networking underpins the delivery of data as we start to converge the LAN and SAN onto the same fabric.

Cloud ready enables different ways of delivering cloud services in isolated multi-tenanted type fashions, and again doing that in software is much easier than doing it in hardware. If you start to think about big data themes, the Vs (volume, variety, velocity and veracity), faster and faster networks are going to be key to delivering all the Vs. It takes a finite amount of time to deliver a block of data from point A to point B, so as the volumes increase and the required times decrease, you need to have much more control and flexibility of the network infrastructure to ensure that you are able to meet the service level agreements that the business puts upon you.

Effective software defined networking enables you to configure it, not on the fly, but closer to real time than you would with physically having to swap hardware in and out. In effect it is networking defined by configuration files so on the same piece of hardware you could use it as a switch, you could use it as a router, you could use it as a firewall, because you give it different configurations, different sets of rules depending on what you want to use it for.

This concludes a very interesting and open three-part interview with John Easton on his point of view on Smarter Computing. Many thanks to John, and if you want to know more about John’s point of view, follow him on Twitter @JohnPEaston.

Siobhan Nicholson currently works as a Client Technical Advisor for Consumer Product accounts within the UK. This includes building an understanding of client environments, identifying technical challenges, and leveraging IBM’s technical resources for the benefit of clients. You can find Siobhan on Twitter @SUN_gator and LinkedIn.

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