Tag: IBM

IBM strengthens cloud security

bluemixEnterprise IT firm IBM doesn’t think that people trust the cloud enough and has introduced tools to help developers strengthen their offerings.

The recipe is called Bluemix which although it sounds as it might be a kind of cement, is actually IBM’s platform as a service (PaaS).

Bluemix is intended to help build applications to use the benefits of cloud computing without stumbling into the quagmires of compliance, regulation and performance that are the baggage of public clouds.

It has introduced a private application programming interface (API) as part of Bluemix and that lets developers build cloud which connect data from legacy back end systems and link them to mobile and social networking applications.

Bluemix gives access to a cloud hosted in an IBM cloud centre, more or less anywhere across the world. Developers will be able to use services from IBM’s Bluemix catalogue including Watson APIs for data analutics and its Aspera data integration tools.

Customers will have the choice of using an IBM data centre in their own country, to avoid regulatory problems companies might face as well as giving better performance because public clouds have so-called “noisy neighbours”.

Windows bug fixed after 18 years

oldfathertimeA researcher with IBM said that a dangerous bug that existed in every version of Windows from Windows 95 onwards has finally been fixed.

Robert Freeman, manager of IBM X-Force, said that it told Microsoft about the bug in May this year and at last Microsoft is fixing it.

The bug can be used by crooks in so called “drive by” attacks to run code remotely and take over peoples’ PCs.

Freeman said that there may well be other bugs that go back decades.  “This vulnerability has been sittting in plain sight for a long time despite many other bugs being discovered and patched in the same Windows library,” he said.

He said that although his unit hadn’t found any evidence that the bug had been exploited, it “would have fetched six figures on the grey market”.

You can find more of IBM’s findings at Freeman’s blog, here.

Nvidia and IBM get it together

Jülich SupercomputersIBM and Nvidia will work in collaboration with the Jülich Supercomputing Centre – a German institute for supercomputer simulation – to push the creation and optimisation of research apps on GPUs (graphics processing units) accelerated OpenPower systems.

A new centre will be opened to develop the high performance computing (HPC) space combining researchers from Nvidia and IBM and using the Jülich centre.

There are currently 70 members of the OpenPOWER Foundation formed late last year looking at new ways to develop supercomputers.

Stefan Kraemer, director of HPC business development at Nvidia said: “By providing systems combining IBM Power CPUs and Nvidia’s Tesla GPU accelrators via the NVlink high speed interconnect technology, we can help the new centre address both areas, and enable scientists to achieve new milestones in their research.”

IBM and Jülich have worked together since 2011 to create exascale architectures, and Nvidia has worked with Jülich since 2012.

The aim of both Nvidia and IBM is to create systems that will tackle the challenges of big data.

Why Apple’s corporate plans are doomed

Map09_oh_noes_two_elementalsKing of consumer toys, Apple is attempting its biggest push into the consumer market, according to Reuters.

Reuters claims that Apple is hiring a dedicated sales force just to talk with potential clients like Citigroup.

This is on top of its partnership with IBM to develop apps for corporate clients and sell them on devices, the iPhone maker plans to challenge sector leaders HP, Dell, Oracle and SAP.

Of course no one is saying much in the way of details, Reuters seems to think that the deal with Big Blue will mean that Apple will be welcomed into the corporate world and give HP and Dell a kicking.  This will result in the collapse of Microsoft, Samsung and Google’s own efforts in mobile work applications.

Apparently Job’s Mob is working closely with a group of startups, including ServiceMax and PlanGrid, that already specialise in selling apps to corporate America. Apple is already in talks with other mobile enterprise developers to bring them into a more formal partnership.

For example, PlanGrid is a mobile app for construction workers to share and view blueprints. ServiceMax is a mobile app that makes it easy for companies to manage fleets of field service technicians by ensuring they have access to the right information.

ServiceMax, whose existing customers include Procter & Gamble (PG.N) and DuPont, has co-hosted eight dinners with Apple over the past year in locations across the United States. About 25 or 30 chief information officers and “chief service officers” typically show up at these joint marketing and sales events.

But there are huge problems with Reuter’s desire to see Apple in charge of the world. The most obvious is that Apple makes toys it does not make corporate devices. Corporates are obsessed with security, Apple’s iCloud can’t even protect b list celebs from having their naked pictures being hacked.

Tablets were an Apple inspired Fad and any belief that corporates will rush to buy them never really happened. If they are ever adopted by corporates, they will be a low-level function which will require something a lot cheaper than Jobs’ Mob wants to support. Apple really needed BYOD to take off, which it didn’t.

Apple’s success has been due to its cult following, but religion does not work very well when it comes to business. Apple lacks functionality with business systems, corporates also take a dim view of the sort of things that Apple user agreements desire from their followers. Apple is also slow to confirm security flaws, and even slower to fix them. Its insistence on its own security, rather than that of the client also does not sit well with big business.

In short, to get business customers, Apple needs to change its mentality – something historically it has been unable to do. It not only has to deal with the experts in business, such as Microsoft, HP, Dell and SAP, its traditional rivals, such as Samsung are also harbour similar ambitions.

Samsung has confirmed that it is stepping up its efforts to sell devices to large enterprise clients and hired former chief information officer Robin Bienfait to spearhead that effort. It might hit the same experience problems that Apple has, and there is no reason to suspect it will be any more successful.

Apple’s IBM partnership might not be that key to the corporations either. It relies on IBM’s sales team selling Apple projects. IBM has as much experience selling consumer products as Apple has selling into business. Jobs’ Mob also has no clue about business software, which is the key to getting into the business market — for decades its networking technology has been the weak point of the few Apple installations in corporates.

Apple appears to hope that if it can hook the client on the software and content, they will keep them coming back for the hardware. However, that simply does not work in the corporates. Hell, Microsoft was unable to get corporates to upgrade to Windows 7 because they could not see a need.  What chance does Apple’s business model have against that attitude?

IBM takes aim at cloud entrepreneurs

IBM logoB2B startups are being given the chance to get up to $120,000 worth of credit if they buy into the IBM cloud.

The company said it wants to provide entrepreneurs with “instant infrastructure” to launch businesses and use their resources to code, build, scale and bring their products to market.

IBM is also offering the startups the chance to connect into its enterprise client base which, it said, are always looking to startups to help them with their own problems.

The global programme includes access to BM’s Bluemix platform that includes over 75 runtimes and services. Bluemix provides integration with Twitter, high speed data transfer tools, application health and performance monitoring services and database as a service (DaaS).

IBM estimates that by 2016 a quarter of all apps will sit on the cloud and 85 percent of new software is built for the cloud.

Entrepreneurs are also being offered technical support and consulting using IBM’s 43 “Innovation Centres”, and incubator space in Silicon Alley.

IBM bets on Watson

Sherlock-Holmes-and-WatsonBig Blue is hoping that its AI based supercomputer Watson can come up with a few ideas which will help turn it around.

IBM  is taking a kicking from cheap cloud computing services and the outfit is  facing an uncertain future.

Apparently, IBM’s research division is building on the research effort that led to Watson, the computer that won in the game show Jeopardy! in 2011. The hope is that this effort will lead to software and hardware that can answer complex questions by looking through vast amounts of information containing subtle and disparate clues.

John Kelly, director of IBM Research told MIT Technology review  that IBM was betting billions of dollars, and a third of this division now is working on artificial intelligence techniques related to Watson.

Earlier this year the division was reorganised to ramp up efforts related to cognitive computing. The push began with the development of the original Watson, but has expanded to include other areas of software and hardware research aimed at helping machines provide useful insights from huge quantities of often-messy data.

So far, the research has created new recipes by analysing thousands of ingredients and popular meals, and, less interesting, electronic components, known as neurosynaptic chips, that have features modelled on the workings of biological brains and are more efficient at processing sensory information.

The hope is that the technology will be able to answer complicated questions in different industries, including health, financial markets, and oil discovery; and that it will help IBM build its new computer-driven consulting business.

There is a growing belief that machine-learning techniques may provide ways to use big data.  Already Google, Facebook, and Amazon have their own methods for hunting through vast quantities of data for useful insights.

So far those Watson has proved a bit elementary.  Some companies and researchers testing Watson systems have reported difficulties in adapting the technology to work with their data sets. However that has not stopped IBM’s CEO, Virginia Rometty, said in October last year that she expects Watson to bring in $10 billion in annual revenue in 10 years, even though that figure then stood at around $100 million.

IBM is aggressively commercialising the technology. Last week the company announced it had teamed up with Twitter and the Chinese social network Tencent to offer a service that will try to find useful insights from messages daily sent through these services, as we reported here. A company that sells phones might, for example, learn about a possible problem with one of its products from comments made by restaurant patrons.

 

IBM claims first for intelligent cloud security

clouds3Big Blue claimed it is the first company to build an intelligent security profile that protects data, applications and people in the cloud.

The offerings it announced use what IBM described as advanced analytics to react to threats across enterprise, public, private and mobile clouds  – so called hybrid clouds.

IBM said that while the cloud is being rapidly adopted worldwide, attackers are more sophisticated and more able to hide their activities.  Indeed, IBM claims that three quarters of security breaches take days, weeks or months to be discovered.

Its managed security services platform is intended to protect IBM customers as well as customers of firms like Amazon Web Services and Salesforce.

It said that its intelligent threat protection monitors the cloud environment, analysing billions of security events and including correlation and external data feeds.

IBM estimates that nearly half of large enterprises will use hybrid clouds by the end of 2017 and claims that it is the largest hybrid cloud vendor.

Dell counter attacks against rivals

Conan 1While Michael Dell was fighting to take his tin box outfit private, his rivals used the uncertainty to steal his customers – now he is counter-attacking.  

Dell opened the Dell World conference and wasted no time denouncing the “turmoil” his rivals in the industry are going through.

“They’re splitting away businesses, spinning off pieces of their businesses, and one has to ask the question: who is this for? Does this actually help the customers? Does it help them create the next great innovative products?”

It is deeply ironic for Dell. At the time HP Meg Whitman was calling Hewlett-Packard a “paragon of stability” compared to his company and IBM smugly told his customers that he was doomed.

Now Dell can point out that Whitman is breaking the the company in two. And IBM is selling its x86 server business to Lenovo and fighting to keep its profits above water.

Because the company is private, Dell does not have to worry about those quarterly targets and can plan.  He even had a dig at Carl Icahn who made him pay millions more to take his company private.

“Dell can focus on a future that’s “beyond the next quarter, the next year or the next shareholder activist,” he said.

Dell’s PC shipments grew almost 20 percent in the U.S. last quarter, Michael Dell said, faster than those of HP and Apple.

Today Dell is expected to announce a new “converged infrastructure” system called the PowerEdge FX, he said, which combines servers, network and storage in a new design that offers “the most density in the world.”

IBM reshuffles its deck

vov24k_mediumIBM has reshuffled its senior management in a bid to turn around the outfit’s flagging fortunes.

Martin Jetter, who was credited with fixing Biggish Blue’s  Japanese operation has been shifted to senior vice president and head of its global technology services unit.

Jetter, who currently heads IBM’s operations in Japan, will initially report to Erich Clemanti and will succeed him as head of the services unit on January 1, when Clemanti will move to another unnamed senior leadership role.

IBM CEO Ginni Rometty said that Jetter was Big Blue’s Mr Fixit and led a remarkable transformation of IBM Japan, returning it to growth. Previously he did the same thing with  IBM Germany and GBS in Europe. “In each case, he and his team have moved quickly to embrace new approaches and new thinking,” Rometty said.

IBM has been falling behind as it struggles to keep up with shifts in the industry as hardware becomes increasingly commoditized. Lately, the outfit which was once best known for mainframe computers, has been moving to higher-margin businesses such as security software and cloud services, but growth in those areas has failed to offset other company weaknesses.

Last month, IBM paid $1.5 billion to Globalfoundries to take its loss-making semiconductor unit off its hands.

Datacentre automation market worth billions

server-racksA report by Markets and Markets estimated that by 2019 the datacentre automation market will be worth $7.53 billion.

The report said that demand for fast data access and storage continues to rise and that’s creating more and more datacentres.  Datacentre automation is sometimes known as Software Defined Data Centres (SDDCs).  Automation helps management deal with scalability, flexibility, manageability and reduced costs.

The market research company said it segments the datacentre automation market by hardware such as network automation, server automation and storage automation.  It also values the secor by service including consulting services, installation and support.

The demand for data is forcing businesses to either build new datacentres or upgrade existing sites.

And the cost of datacentre infrastructure continues to increase at the same time as IT budgets continues to decrease.

Majr vendors in the industry include HP, Oracle, Dell, Brocade, Cisco, IBM, CA and BMC Software.

IBM signs deal with Chinese cloud giant

Executives from Tencent and IBMA major Chinese IT player – Tencent Cloud – has signed a memorandum of understanding to cooperate with IBM to bring Software as a Service (SaaS) for various industries.

Both firms will concentrate on emerging small and medium enterprises in healthcare and other fields.

Tencent Holdings is one of the major providers of internet services in mainland China, and its Cloud division sells to enterprises and developers a number of offerings.

Taosang Tong, a senior executive VP of IBM said: “Tencent has a stable and reliable cloud computing platform, while IBM has abundant industry expertise aimed at the enterprise.”

Nancy Thomas, a managing partner at IBM China said the two companies will bring scale and cost benefits of cloud computing to Chinese enterprises.  “The industry dimension makes this especially appealing for businesses,” she said.

Financial considerations were not disclosed.

IBM brings in the clouds

Pic Mike MageeBig Blue said it has released or is just about to release a slew of cloud and Big Data analytics to the IT party.

It said that Cognos Business Intelligence, SPSS predictive analytics and Watson Analytics will soon be available on its Cloud marketplace. Currently the Cognos offering is in beta, and won’t be ready for action until the first quarter of next year.  And SPSS Modeller won’t be available for another 30 days.

What’s the Cloud marketplace?  It’s one place you can go to, or in IBM speak it’s “the digital front door to cloud innovation”.

Big Blue said that 25 percent of new business analytic installations will be as subscriptions to cloud analytic or application services by next year.

IBM wants a slice of that lucrative cake.

The giant said that it has five answers to five common problems for businesses including understanding customers, understanding operations, security, compliance and data warehouse modernisation.

IBM makes Ebola initiatives

ibm-officeGiant vendor IBM said it is offering a number of initiatives in a bid to help the spread of the deadly Ebola virus in Africa.

It has donated IBM Connections technology to Nigera in a bid to help preparedness for future outbreaks of the disease and has created a global portal to share Ebola data.

IBM has worked with Sierra Leone’s Open Government initiative, Cambridge Uni’s Africa Voices project, telco Airtel and startup Echo Mobile.

The Sierra Leone system lets people report Ebola problems and worries using SMS or voice calls. That, it says, will help the government improve its strategies for containing the outbreak.

Using IBM supercomputers and analytics in the cloud, the system will identify correlations and emerging concerns across the entire data set of messages. SMS and voice data are location specific.

According to IBM, the system has already identified regions with growing numbers of suspected cases and helped provide faster response times for body collection and burials.

The system uses radio broadcasts to encourage people to get in touch with the project.  Cambridge Uni’s Dr Sharath Srinivasan said: “We are working with IBM to offer people across Sierra Leone a channel to voice  their opinions and to ensure the data is rapidly analysed and turned into insights about the effectiveness of public service announcements and public misconceptions about Ebola.”

Airtel has provided a toll free number for SMS messages and anonymised by Kenyan company Echo Mobile.

Meanwhile, Big Blue volunteers are calling on organisations worldwide to contribute data as it seeks to identify and classify open data sources.

Lufthansa sells IT infrastructure to Big Blue

lufthansa-history-1German airline Lufthansa is about to sell its IT infrastructure unit to IBM as part of an outsourcing agreement for the services.

Europe’s largest airline by revenue is undergoing restructuring and cost-cutting efforts to better position itself to compete with low-cost carriers and Arabic rivals

It earlier this year said it was seeking a buyer for the unit, which provides data centres, networks and telephony. Apparently, it is worried that it requires a high level of investment and economies of scale, which the airline could not afford.

Under the deal, Lufthansa will outsource all of its IT infrastructure services to IBM for seven years. The US firm will take over the airline’s IT infrastructure division, currently part of Lufthansa Systems.

The deal will result in a one-off pre-tax charge of 240 million euro for Lufthansa. It will allow Lufthansa to reduce its annual IT costs by around 70 million euro a year. It is not clear how much this will all cost in the end as this is still being ironed out.

Big Blue slows down

sn_blu_mysIBM shocked the cocaine nose jobs of Wall Street by giving up its 2015 operating earnings target and moaning that it was suffering from a bad dose of weak client spending and a slumping software sector.

IBM shares fell nearly seven percent to a three year low, which must really hack off Warren Buffett whose Berkshire Hathaway owns seven percent of IBM shares. The decline shaved more than $13 billion off Big Blue’s market cap, which stood at $182 billion at the stock market close on Friday.

Ginni Rometty, IBM chairman, president and chief executive officer said that the result was disappointing and that the company saw a marked slowdown in September in client buying behavior, and our results also point to the unprecedented pace of change in our industry.

In a move to rid itself of one underperforming business, IBM also said on Monday it will hive off its loss-making semiconductor unit to contract chipmaker Globalfoundries.

“Some of these fundamental shifts in the industry are happening faster than we planned,” Rometty said on a call with analysts. “We are continuing to remix to higher value.”

To be fair, IBM is hardly the only technology company having a hard time keeping up. German software maker SAP cut its 2014 operating profit forecast on Monday, citing a faster-than-expected move to cloud-based software. Oracle has similar problems.

Revenue from the company’s cloud service unit, which allows businesses to access software and data remotely, grew more than 50 percent in the quarter, while mobile revenue doubled.

Still, they were not enough to offset weakness in servers and other hardware, as well as some software business lines.

IBM is spending $600 million for “workforce restructuring,” but did not specify how many employees would be cleaning out their desks.

IBM, which said it would announce a new operating earning per share target for 2015 in January, reported a 4 percent drop in third-quarter revenues as clients held back on spending in September.

Revenue fell to $22.4 billion in the quarter from $23.34 billion a year earlier. Wall Street expected $23.37 billion.

Net profit from continuing operations dropped to $3.46 billion, or $3.46 per share, from $4.14 billion, or $3.77 per share in the same quarter last year.