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Posts Tagged ‘Tivoli’

Five things I learned at IBM’s Rational Conference

June 9, 2009 3 comments

I haven’t been to IBM’s Rational Conference in a couple of years so I was very interested not just to see what IBM had to say about the changing landscape of software development but how the customers attending the conference had changed. I was not disappointed.  While I could write a whole book on the changes happening in software development (but I have enough problems) I thought I would mention some of the aspects of the conference that I found noteworthy.

One. Rational is moving from tools company to a software development platform. Rational has always been a complex organization to understand since it has evolved and changed so much over the years. The organization now seems to have found its focus.

Two. More management, fewer low level developers. In the old day, conferences like this would be dominated by programmers. While there were many developers  in attendance, I found that there were a lot of upper level managers. For example, I sat at lunch with one CIO who was in the process of moving to a sophisticated service oriented architecture. Another person at my table was a manager looking to update his company’s current development platforms. Still another individual was a customer of one of the company’s that IBM had purchased who was looking to understand how to implement new capabilities added since the acquisition.

Three. Rational has changed dramatically through acquisitions. Rational is a tale of acquisitions. Rational Software, the lynch pin of IBM’s software development division, itself was a combination of many acquisitions. Rational, before being bought by IBM in 2002 for $2.1 billion, had acquired an impressive array of companies including Requiste, SQA, Performance Aware, Pure-Atria, and Object Time Ltd.  After a period of absorbtion, IBM started acquiring more assets. BuildForge (build and release management) was purchased in 2006; Watchfire (Web application security vulnerability and compliance testing software) was bought in 2007; and Telelogic (requirements management) was purchased in 2008.

It has taken IBM a while to both absorb all of the acquisitions and then to create a unified architecture so that these software products could share components and interoperate. While IBM is not done, under Danny Sabbah’s leadership (General Manager), Rational made the transition from being a tools company to becoming platform for managing software complexity. It is work in progress.

Four. It’s all about Jazz. Jazz, IBM’s collaboration platform was a major focus of the conference.  Jazz is an architecture intended to integrate data and function.  Jazz’s foundation is the REST architecture and therefore it is well positioned for use in Web 2.0 applications. What is most important is that IBM is bringing all of its Rational technology under this model. Over the next few years, we can expect to see this framework under all of the Rational’s products.

Five. Rational doesn’t stand alone. It is easy to focus on all of the Rational portfolio (which could take a while). But what I found quite interesting was the emphasis on the intersection between the Rational platform and Tivoli’s management services as well as Websphere’s Service Oriented Architecture offerings. Rational also made a point of focusing on the use of collaboration elements provided by the Lotus division.  Cloud computing was also a major focus of discussion at the event. While many customers at the event are evaluating the potential of using various Rational products in the cloud it is early.  The one area that IBM seem to have hit a home run is its Cloud Burst appliance which is intended create and manage virtual images. Rational is also beginning to deliver its testing offerings as cloud based services. One of the most interesting elements of its approach is to use tokens as a licensing model. In other words, customers purchase a set number of tokens or virtual licenses that can be used to purchase services that are not tied to a specific project or product.

Taking the Pulse of The New Tivoli

May 20, 2008 3 comments

It is ironic that I was at the first Tivoli user conference called Planet Tivoli back in the early 1990s. Now, I am sitting at Tivoli’s first full blown user conference called Pulse. Pulse is very much like Tivoli itself, it is a combination of the Netcool, Maximo, and Tivoli user conferences. Over the past several years, IBM has had the challenge of taking its portfolio of individual products, rationalize them and create a management platform. One of the most fortunate events that helped Tivoli is the growing importance of service management. Service Management, the ability to manage a highly distributed computing environment in a consistent and predictable manner. Therefore, all of Tivoli’s offerings can be defined from this perspective. IBM’s Al Zolar, who runs the Tivoli organization said in his opening remarks that Tivoli common goal across its portfolio is to assure the effective delivery of services.

One of the interesting aspects of IBM’s management strategy is that the company intends to apply the idea of service management beyond IT operations. “Everything needs to be managed,” says Steve Mills, the senior vice president and GM of the software business. He points to many industries that are increasingly enabling intelligence into everything from trucks to assembly lines. Therefore, everything is becoming a manageable system. Companies are increasingly using RDIF tags to track products and equipment, for example. As everything becomes a “virtual system” — everything becomes a service to be managed. What an interesting opportunity and makes it clear by IBM would have bought a company like Maximo — a company that manages physical assets.

So, it is becoming clear that Tivoli is reinventing itself by focusing on service management in the broader corporate perspective. At the foundational level, Tivoli is looking at what the foundational services that are required to make this a viable strategy. I liked the fact that Zolar focused on Identity Management as one of the foundational services. Without managing the identity of the user or the device in a highly distributed environment, service management might work but it couldn’t be trusted.

Another major focal point for IBM’s emerging service management strategy is process automation. Now, this isn’t a surprise since process is the foundation of traditional operations management. However, it has a broader persona as well that transcends operations management. As we move to a more service oriented architecture, service management takes on a broader and more strategic role in the organization. You aren’t just managing the physical servers running applications but you are looking at managing an environment that requires the integration of business services, middleware, transactions, and a variety physical assets. Some of these pieces will be located at the client site while others might live in the cloud and yet others will live in a partner’s environment. These sets of virtual services have to be managed as though they are a physical system. Therefore, they are responsible for managing a meaningful process flow that is in compliance with corporate and IT governance rules. And all of this has to be done in a way that doesn’t require so many people that it is not economically feasible.

From my discussions at Pulse, I came away with the understanding that this is, in fact, IBM’s vision for service management. What is impressive is that IBM has taken begun to create a set of foundational services that are becoming the underpinnings of the Tivoli offerings. This metadata based framework was designed from some innovative (and very early technology) that came to IBM from the Candle acquisition. In fact, I had looked at this integration technology many years ago and always thought it was one of Candle’s crown jewels. I had wondered what happened to it — now I know.

IBM’s challenge will be to capitalize on this rationalization of its management assets. IBM has managed services it is offerings. IBM needs to be able to create an ecosystem based on its offerings so that it can compete with the emerging breed of cloud and service providers like Amazon.com and Google. It is becoming clear to me that customers and software vendors alike are looking for the emerging utility infrastructure providers. I think that with the right type of packaging, IBM could become a major player.

So, my take away from my first day at Pulse is this:

  • Tivoli is working to create a set of foundational meta data level services that link its various managed service offerings.
  • Because of the foundational services, Tivoli can now package its offerings in a much more effective way. It should make its offerings more competitive.
  • Tivoli’s goal is to leverage its operational management expertise in software to move up the food chain and manage both the IT and the business process infrastructures
  • Cloud computing is very important to IBM. It is still early but the investment is intense and being designed as the next generation of virtualization, SOA, and utility computing.
  • Green IT and energy efficiency is a key driver of Tivoli’s emerging services as a growth engine.

One of the primary themes that I heard is the industrialization of computing as the foundation for IBM’s management services. Indeed, I have often said that we are at the beginning of a new era where we computing moves from being an art based on experimentation and hope. The next generation focused on software and infrastructure as a service are becoming a reality and the last mile will be the management of all of those resources and more. This management focus is an imperative as we move towards the industrialization of software and computing

My Impressions of IBM’s SOA Impact Conference

April 16, 2008 1 comment

Last week I attending IBM’s Impact conference which Sandy Carter, VP of SOA for IBM contends is the largest SOA conference in the world. With more than 6,000 attendees all focused on SOA, I think she might be right. So, it is interesting to listen to see what the key messages and issues. I have some time to take stock of what I heard and saw at the meeting. This is the second year of the Impact conference and it is interesting to see the difference a year makes

While I could go on for a long time about the details of the conference, I wanted to give you my top three impressions of the meeting.

Impression One. SOA is about end-to-end business process. IBM is maturing with the market. When IBM first started on its SOA journey, the focus was primarily on the Enterprise Service Bus but that has changed. While the ESB is still important (although there are camps in the industry who think it isn’t so important anymore), there is a new focus that is more holistic. IBM is now much more focused on end-to-end business process. I think this is an important move for customers and for IBM’s go to market strategy. It is a more business centric view and approach to SOA. I think that this is a testament to the fact that SOA is starting to mature. Customers are beginning to think of SOA not just as a substitute for applications integration but as a way of managing business. This is a step in the right direction.

Impression Two. SOA gets Smart. IBM is using the Smart SOA brand as a natural evolution of its SOA strategy. I come away from the conference understanding that IBM is beginning to leverage its experience with thousands of customers into a set of best practices that are codified into a set of industry frameworks. Many of these frameworks are culled from IBM Global Services experience working with customers. Pre-defined and extensible frameworks are an essential solution to the problem customers face in trying to pull together the pieces of a SOA architecture from scratch. Part of IBM’s journey as a SOA vendor is to pull its elements of software together into a cohesive SOA approach. I observed that IBM is working to create a SOA approach that leverages its five software areas: Tivoli (service management, security, etc.), Rational (development and quality), Information Management (databases, search, content management, information infrastructure, information services, etc.), WebSphere (application server, enterprise service bus, etc.), and Lotus (collaboration and social computing). Implementing a long term SOA strategy really does require all of these areas to be intertwined. It is not an easy path for any vendor.

Impression Three: It’s about the customer. IBM made it clear that it was putting its focus on customers at this meeting. There were more than 250 sessions run by its customers. It was pretty overwhelming with often more than 50 sessions going on simultaneously. Our team ran a SOA for Dummies session and had standing room only. We weren’t sure what to expect. Were all IBM customers too smart to attend a introduction to SOA session? We found that, in fact, a lot of attendees that we met during our session are figuring out the basics: how to work with the business, how to think about governance, and what does it mean to capture code out of an existing application and make it into a reusable service. Many of the other customers we spoke with at the meeting are well along in their SOA journey. They are getting real business value because they are looking at SOA from a customer experience perspective.

I was struck by the comments made by Jim Haney, CIO of Harley-Davidson who started off the conference by driving onto the stage on a motorcycle (a Harley, of course!). His words were so good that I’ll quote some of what he said (If I got some words wrote, you’ll have to forgive me). He spoke about the customer facing SOA application the company has put into production. “SOA is not about technology, it is about how you use technology to change the business.” The application called rideplanner.com is designed to help Harley customers plan trips. The application is intended to enhance the customer experience. It is not as simple as providing a trip map, rather as Jim explained, “it is about defining the process and bringing all these technology together to create an end to end experience. It is about pulling everything together with soa to change the way the customer interacts with us.” He pointed to the need to determine the right route to travel and what sights are along the way. Is it a long ride or a short one? Are there events that a Harley rider might be interested in? “We are creating a different customer experience. It isn’t about the individual transactions. We had to look at the person behind the application — not just at the technology. It is a cultural change.” I think that says it all…

Five things I learned at IBM’s Software Group Industry Analyst Meeting

November 9, 2007 4 comments

Every year at about this time I attend IBM Software Group IT Industry Analyst meeting. This meeting is attended by about 90 industry analysts and about three times that number of IBM software group leaders, managers, and support staff. It is quite the event! While I can’t possibly talk about everything I am hearing, but I will give you an overview of the events and some of the highlights.

Since I have been traveling to a lot of analyst conferences lately, I can compare the approach of different market leaders. Next week, for example, I will be at EMC’s analyst meeting and in early December I will attend SAP’s analyst event.

But I digress. Here is what I came away thinking about IBM and its software strategy. One of my first thoughts is to compare Microsoft’s SOA/BPM event the other week to IBM’s. One of the big differences is that while Microsoft is announcing new long term initiatives (Oslo) for SOA, IBM is executing on a long term plan that has been in the works for more than five years. I think the best way to understand IBM’s software DNA is to look at the perspective of its leader.

I start with an observation that is actually not new for me. Steve Mills, Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Software Group has been the force behind herding the multiple business areas within the software group to have a common set of underlying services. While this may make perfect sense, it not an easy achievement for a company with thousands of software offerings across hundreds of different business units. As an example, when I first met Steve he was grappling with a few hundred different data stores under hundreds of different products. Somehow he managed to get all of these groups to use DB2 as their underlying database engine. But that was just the start. Steve’s next big leap was to move out of the packaged software market and into the middleware and horizontal software market.

 

 

 

 

I thought Steve’s remarks were quite insightful: In essence, Mills pointed out that IBM’s focus with its horizontal software approach is on what he calls industry frameworks. With this approach he believes that IBM is armed with the right stuff to focus on what he calls “customer business outcomes.”

Rather than packaged software these frameworks are a combination of best practices and business services. For example, in the financial services industry these services would include financial services for payments platforms, high performance event processing, and large scale data mining and analytics. Therefore, the overarching strategy for the software business is to provide the building blocks that apply to business requirements across business domains.

Mills contents that the real benefit that customers are looking for is to gaining operational efficient and innovative business performance from this horizontal. He contends that the greatest benefit from a growth and cost containment basis comes from a focus on harmonizing business practices across the organization. Simply automating and re-automating vertical slides such as customer relationship systems, booking keeping, inventory, and the like not where the opportunity is. Could this be a swipe at companies like Oracle and SAP?

 

Like Microsoft, IBM is moving its focus to process and models-based approaches but with a horizontal flavor. Mills believes that transactions, messaging, information integration, management of an increasingly virtualized enviornment, data management, and collaboration are at the heart of the requirements to make this vision a reality. This is where IBM software is putting its money and its bets.

So, here are the five things I learned from this meeting (I probably learned more but I know that people who read blogs have a short attention span…):

1. IBM is focused horizonally and will not get into the packaged software market. The exception will be software packages that focuses on more horizontal requirements.

2. IBM is reinventing Lotus into a collaboration platform. There are many exciting initiatives unfolding in Lotus that focus on a true distributed platform. I expect to see some important Software as a Service initiatives come out of the new Lotus. I would like to see IBM move faster into Software as a Service.

3. Information Management is an increasingly strong part of the IBM platform that transcends the database. IBM is doing a good job at integrating a large number of acquisitions into a substantial SOA based information platform.

4. IBM is doing SOA well. Clearly, the investment in SOA is paying off for IBM. It has more than 5700 SOA engagements under its belt. It is now able to leverage its expertise across key verticals to present a sound strategy to customers.

 

5. Now, I don’t want you to think that everything is perfect at IBM. There are still areas of concern. For example, the Tivoli organization has plenty of work to do to explain its portfolio to the market and give customers better techniques to get started without getting indigestion . Like other parts of IBM software, it is, in essence a software company in its own right with hundreds of products that don’t always work together as they should. Likewise, IBM Websphere is a huge set of technologies — some better integrated that others. Sometimes customers get overwhelmed with the portfolio.

Trying to reduce IBM software strategy to under 1,000 words is a task few humans should undertake (without a stiff drink of something). I have left out a lot — and there is plenty to say. For example, I haven’t talked at all about the herculean task that Danny Sabbah (I have added a link to Amy Wohl’s blog. She has a good interview with Danny from the same meeting) has taken on to reinvigorate Rational. (Yes, he is making progress. The direction is well conceived — it will just take some time). I also have not talked about the important Express software platforms that are probably IBM’s best kept secret. There are a series of impressive product offerings designed for ease of installation and ease of use required by the mid-market. I always wonder why it is o.k. for big companies to have to do things the hard way (but that’s just me…).

I guess this means that I have to write more about IBM’s software strategy in future entries…

What’s the value of autonomic computing?

January 29, 2007 Leave a comment

Ok, here is a test for you. What is the value of autonomic computing in the real world? Autonomic computing has always sounded a little like science fiction. The system sits there and anticipates when something is going to go wrong and rushes in, and fixes the problem – before any human ever knows that there was a problem. Sort of cool.

Most of my conversations about automatic computing has been with IBM. However, this week I ran into an interesting small company that specializes in automatic computing and even has an IBM partnership in this area. The company is called Embolics(www.embolics.com) is based in Ottawa, Canada and is less than a year old. Rather than coding from scratch, the company purchased the assets of a company called Symbium that focused on autonomic computing for the telecommunications market. Embolics is holding its cards pretty close to the vest but it looks like they have some pretty interesting software that discovers patterns of use and matches that to a workflow approach to securing access to software and hardware.

Unlike some of the solutions I have seen over the past few years, this one does not require the customer to create a complex set of rules from scratch. The company says that it’s software is self-securing and self-managing. The software itself is embedded either in an appliance or a card or in a virtualization layer. The company already has a few key partnerships – even with IBM Tivoli in its autonomic computing area. So, this is one of those emerging companies I plan to keep an eye on.