Tag: IBM

Lenovo, IBM deal sealed

ibm-officeBig Blue and Lenovo confirmed they have completed the sales of IBM’s X86 server business, as expected.

Under the terms of the deal, Lenovo will buy System x, BladeCenter and Flex System blade servers and switches, X86 based Flex integrated systems, NeXtScale and iDataPlex servers as well as software, blade networking and maintenance operations.

IBM will keep its System z mainframes, its Power Systems, Storage Systems, Power based Flex servers and PureApplication and PureData appliances.

The two companies will collaborate in a deal where Lenovo will act as an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) for IBM, and will also resell some products from Big Blue’s storage and software portfolio.

The change starts today in most major markets. IBM said the deal will also be completed in most other territories in the next month or two.

Lenovo’s acquisition of IBM’s Intel based servers means that it’s now able to offer the entire range of X86 based systems, from humble notebooks up to high end  servers.

Lenovo carves up Chinese server pie

lenovo-logoAs we reported yesterday, Lenovo will acquire Intel’s X86 server business this week and that means it will be the biggest server company in mainland China.

Market research firm IDC released its figures for server sales in China for the first half of this year and Lenovo – which includes prior IBM system business – comes out the leader at 23.91 percent (see chart).

IDC said that the Lenovo/IBM X86 server line and IBM’s System x mainframes are highly complementary and Lenovo will use that synergy to sell more X86 systems into large organisations.

But Dell has been highly competitive in the Chinese market, and Lenovo’s entrance into this space is likely to lead to even more competition.

IDC thinks that Lenovo will integrate channels to market of IBM’s System x machines with its own routes to market and the entry of Lenovo as a player is likely to lead to better cooperation with Microsoft and VMWare.

And in the global market, Lenovo shows up as a leader with a market share of 11.7 percent.
Global X86 server market 1H 2014
China X86 server market H12014

IBM Lenovo sale is a done deal

A not so mobile X86 PCLenovo’s offer to buy the remainder of IBM’s X86 business is likely to be concluded this Wednesday.

IBM is disposing of the deal to the Chinese manufacturer for $1.8 billion and when the acquisition is complete, it will finally have washed its hands of all of its X86 business.

That doesn’t mean its out of the hardware business completely, of course.  It will carry on selling its mainframes and a number of other high profit and enterprise standard appliances.

It was the first to launch an X86 personal computer back in the 1980s but its exclusive hold in the market was swiftly dented by competition from clone makers such as Dell and Compaq.

The deal will be completed because it waited approval from the European Union, China and the USA. But authorities in these territories have raised no objections to the sale.

When the deal is complete, it will catapult Lenovo into the major league of X86 players and will let it diversify its business by targeting the lucrative high end of the market.

IT infrastructure worth $2.4 billion

IBM logoSales of worldwide integrated infrastructure and platforms rose by a third in the second quarter of this year with a net worth of $2.4 billion, compared to the same quarter a year back.

IDC defines integrated infrastructure and platforms as pre-integrated certified systems containin server hardware, disk storage systems, networking equipment and systems management software.

IDC said over 833 petabytes of storage capacity shipped, up 63.4 percent compared to the same quarter in 2013. All in all, the first half of 2014 showed the market grew by 35.9 percent compared to the first half of 2013 and was worth $4.3 billion.

IDC believes that integrated systems are considered critical by business.  Jed Scaramella, research director of enterprise servers at IDC said enterprise customers were “bullish” in adopting integrated systems and many more consider these when making IT procurement choices.

The top vendors in integrated platforms, were Oracle, IBM, HP, Hitachi and the usual “others”.  But an examination of the revenue growth delivered by these companies showed that HP managed to grow revenues by 92.1 percent compared to the same quarter in 2013, while IBM was in stasis and Oracle grew by 18.3 percent.

In the field of worldwide integrated infrastructure, the top three spots were occupied by VCE, Cicsco/Netapp and EMC.

Smartphones beat tablets on mobile sales

smartphones-genericA report by Monetate said data showed that mobile commerce continues to grow at a fair old pace.

Figures for the second quarter of 2014 available today showed that mobile commerce traffic rose by 120 percent compared to the same quarter in 2013 on smartphones. Tablet traffic grew by 35 percent and desktop traffic flatlined.

Even though mobile devices now generate 16 percent of all ecommerce traffic, revenue is less than four percent.  And mobile customers are more fickle with a 50 percent higher bounce rate, and a 30 percent lower “add to cart” rate.

Further, people using smartphones are 10 percent more likely to abandon a transaction.

“Mobile commercial traffic is increasing dramatically as consumers become more comfortable shopping via mobile [phones],” said Lucinda Duncalfe, CEO of Monetate.  “But the low conversion rates imply that brands need to create more relevant persnalised mobile experiences to take advantage of the opportunities.”

IBM, which contributed to the survey, said companies need to rethink their mobile strategies.  Jay Henderson, strategy director at IBM ExperienceOne said: “It’s a fairly complex process that involves reworking sites, using data to improve nagivation and deepen connections.”

The survey analyses a random sample of over seven billion online episodes.

Watson becomes a Sherlock

ibm-officeIBM formally announced Watson Analytics and, somewhat modestly, said it was its biggest announcement in a decade in analytics.

The software is a natural language based service that gives access to predictive and visual analytic tools for business.

The first version of Watson Analytics includes a version of its cloud service for desktops and mobiles.  The service allows access to data warehousing services.

IBM said Watson brings together self service analytics capabilities on the cloud and refine it, discover insights, predict outcomes, visualise results, create reports and allow collaboration with other people.

The company claims that using natural language lets people ask the right questions and get results that can be read and manipulated.  They can then refine their questions.

Intel shows off in-memory-database Biz

Intel-IDF-'14-Copy-SizeIntel’s Developer Forum 2014 annual meeting at San Francisco’s Moscone Center wound down yesterday. My assignment is to continue research on a technology that’s now ramping.

The computer industry is at the beginning of a major architectural shift – “In-Memory Database” (IMD) systems, originally aimed at solving near real-time solutions for analytic problems have successfully been applied to cognitive computing problems as well. The nascent application of “cognitive computing intelligence and predictive analytics” toolsets to IMD equipped servers is thought to be the first step in a new era in computing – quite possibly the next big thing.

The Google Effect
At the 2000 Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco a relatively unknown entrepreneur, while having a Keynote fireside chat with Andy Grove, said he’d like to take the entire Internet and put it in memory to speed it up – “The Web, a good part of the Web, is a few terabits. So it’s not unreasonable,” he said. “We’d like to have the whole Web in memory, in random access memory.”

The comment received a rather derisive reception from the audience and was quickly forgotten. The speaker, Larry Page, an unknown at the time, as was his startup company, Google – the company’s backbone consisted of 2,400 computers at the time.

Fast forward to the present – system vendors found their future in Big Data has a lot of the look and feel of Google’s “free to the public” offering. Google was the first to successfully deploy a massively parallel processing (MPP) network commercially using commodity servers – one that was delivering real-time data access on a worldwide basis. Their competitors realized that they could no longer remain competitive with systems that relied on high latency rotating magnetic media as the main store – in fact, solid state disks (SSD) are considered somewhat slow for the new realities of Big Data analytic computing.

The development – called “In-Memory Database” mounts the entire database (single system image – even enormous ones) into large scale memory arrays of Registered DIMMs – closely coupled with Multi Core Processors. The resulting increase in throughput accelerates not only transaction processing but also analytic application performance into real time. The frosting on the cake is that this architecture change applies to good advantage in the emerging cognitive computing space.

SAP – HANA, In-Memory Database Computing
In 2006 Hasso Plattner, Co-founder of SAP AG, took a bottle of red wine, a wine glass, some writing implements and paper to the garden behind his house. By the time he reached the bottom of the bottle there wasn’t much written on the paper. But he had reached the conclusion that in-memory systems were the future. Mr. Plattner had realized that for SAP to remain competitive it needed to innovate – Plattner believed that by changing the server design to accommodate massively parallel processing with enough memory to load an entire database when combined with columnar based storage software would have a revolutionizing effect on processing speeds for OLTP and OLAP applications.

Gathering a small group of PhDs and undergrads at the Hasso Plattner Institute, Plattner expressed the in-memory idea he wanted them to explore. The first prototype was shown in 2007 before an internal audience at the company’s headquarters in Waldorf, Germany. SAP management was skeptical that the idea would work – the team needed to prove that the concept of in-memory database would work under real world conditions.

Using contacts to advance the project, Mr. Plattner persuaded Colgate-Palmolive Co. to provide transaction data for the project. He also persuaded Intel’s Craig Barrett to secure the latest microprocessors for the labs ongoing effort. The company also set up an R&D facility in Palo Alto to be in close proximity to their innovation and research partner Stanford University.

SAP HANA was officially announced in May 2010 with shipments commencing with the release of SAP HANA 1.0 in November. The market was slow in adopting the technology convinced that it was still in an early stage of development. Analytics and the need to score a real reason for their customers to mount their IT to the cloud provided the market conditions SAP’s HANA needed to press its adaptation. SAP over time adopted HANA to the Cloud through successful partnering with a wide array of vendors making it the company’s fastest growing segment.

During the development of HANA, SAP discovered the amount of physical memory required to store an entire database could be reduced substantially (compressed) – in some cases by 100X. This had the effect of reducing power (less memory required) and made database searches more efficient (reduction of the empty set). The market implication was that the price of memory per gigabyte had finally reached a price/performance breakeven point in an application that could not be accomplished at that price any other way. DRAM producers have found their next “Killer Application”.

IBM’s Watson – Cognitive Computing Public Debut
IBM’s Watson is a Big Data analytics system running on 2,880 PowerPC cores with 16TBytes of DRAM. Estimated cost is reportedly just over $3 Million and it requires 200kW of power to operate. Watson’s inner workings have not been publicly released – what is known is that it runs under a tool IBM calls DeepQA, implemented in conjunction with Hadoop (a Java implementation of MapReduce) that runs under the SUSE Linux Enterprise Server Operating System.

IBM introduced Watson to the public by competing it against human opponents on the game show “Jeopardy” in February 2011 – establishing IBM and the Watson Brand in the public mind when it won the $1 Million Dollar prize for charity.

Watson’s ability to semantically interpret language implies a native ability to understand the context of questions – including puns and word plays that it handled amazingly well – questions of this nature typically remain a significant challenge for machine-based systems.

Watson’s creators have stated that the algorithms are “embarrassingly” parallel – the implication that the core engine is highly MapReduce in nature rather than the more traditional graph analytics approach. Conventional network control is adequate for such an engine reducing costs and falls within a Software Defined Networking (SDN) framework.

IBM previously missed the industry shift to data management from ISAM files to relational databases in the 1970’s even though they were the inventor of RDMS systems. Oracle took full advantage of this colossal gaff much to IBM’s dismay.

IBM announced the establishment of the Watson Business Unit in early March investing upwards of $1 Billion in the new entity. What is surprising is that the company had a fully established cloud based offering replete with a supporting ecosystem around Watson (now physically occupying three rack cabinets instead of the original nine). There is no lack of customer interest in Watson with over 1,000 third party developers signed on to date.

IBM emphasizes Watsons’ natural language capabilities and analytics to process and synthesize information in a manner similar to the way humans think – enabling quick comprehension and evaluation of large of amounts of human style communication data to generate and evaluate evidence based hypotheses – to adapt and learn from training, interaction and outcomes.

Server Commoditisation – IBM Going Fabless?
“Watson” is at the beginning of a bundling “strategy” by IBM that’s in line with its continued separation from its hardware origins. IBM’s internal politics sometimes show in decisions made by disparate groups within the company in efforts to preserve their own “silage”.

The persistent and widely spread rumor that IBM was selling their low-end server division began circulating in April 2013 with Lenovo the most likely buyer – it passed into obscurity before becoming a reality in January 2014. The trend toward server hardware commoditization is the driving force behind the sale. Margins in the low-end server space have decreased to the point where economies of scale must come into play – requiring ever-larger investments with ever decreasing margins draining capital away from the company’s core business strategy. Watson, on the other hand, is viewed as a “maximum best-fit scaling technology” for capitalizing on IBM’s capabilities as a company.

Recent rumors that IBM is accepting bids for its semiconductor operations are being taken seriously and lean toward Global Foundries as the favored bidder. IBM announced that it is investing $3 Billion over five years on semiconductor research in a move to reassure their customer base that the company is continuing basic research to advance hardware and software technology. The company has entered talks of selling the East Fishkill, N.Y. Fab to Globalfoundries Inc. though a definitive agreement has yet to be announced.

IBM is slowly being transformed into a mostly software and services company using commodity, software defined hardware. That it’s going fabless is no surprise – the question of who will fill the void of developing next generation semiconductor processes and the attendant processor architecture development.
In 2013 the odds were firmly on Intel – the lack of furthered commitment in IDF 2014 shakes this conclusion but remember that the E7 version will not be ready for prime time till next year or at best very late this calendar year.

IBM, deciding to take Watson to market, set out to solve cost, power and footprint issues through industry collaboration. The effects of this collaboration will have far ranging effects on the company, its hardware product line and industry partners.

IBM’s larger than usual presence at the Intel Developer Forum in 2013 with a keynote delivered by Diane Bryant, Intel Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Data Center Group further signaled IBM’s continued segue with Intel toward high end servers.
Intel’s Rack Scale Architecture

Intel has been developing its version of the “Disaggregated Server” named “Rack Scale Architecture” or RSA.

At the core of the Rack Scale Architecture is a technology Intel calls “Silicon Photonics” – developed under the premise that a system wide integrated silicon photonic based data highway woven into a hierarchical communication fabric will support massively parallel computing systems into the foreseeable future and remain a baseline architectural model for future growth. Copper interconnects do not scale reliably in server systems at data rates much above 10 Gbs per channel (multiple fiber channels (10) are combined to establish interconnects like 100 Gbit Ethernet).

The idea of a “silicon photonic” highway offers system architects freedom to allocate computational resources “at will”. This blends well with Software Defined Networking down to the computational element – essentially making an entire data center a virtual machine.

Key to this idea is the use of fiber optic cable capable of carrying 100 Gbps and up data channels (cluster of 4 fibers at 25 Gbps each) called “Silicon Photonics” by Intel.

Diane Bryant brought Andy Bechtolsheim – Founder, Chief Development Officer and Chairman of Arista Networks on stage to announce the company’s first shipments of the “Top of Rack Switch”. Bechtolsheim stated that Intel’s Silicon Photonic’s solved the cost issue allowing Arista’s TOR Switch to enter the market. Andy added that switches extending transmission distance from 200 meters to 2 kilometers required for Cloud data centers would be shipping in volume in Q1 CY 2015.

Intel’s Big Data Analytics Market Outlook
Diane Bryant saved the best for last in her keynote segment. She stated that McKinsey reported big data analytics can improve margins up to 60% through increased sales per visit through improved management of inventory and through optimized product pricing. Cost of compute has declined 40% and the cost of storage has declined 100% making it truly cost feasible to deploy these big data analytic solutions. She added that the E5V3 analytic server units were announced in a separate announcement on Monday. Unfortunately nothing was said about the massive E7s now in development.

Bryant went on stating “within a couple of years Hadoop will be the number one application. It will be running on more servers than any other single application. It will be more common for Enterprise IT than Enterprise ERP system. The big data market is growing at 35% CAGR it’s projected to be a $150 Billion business in silicon systems, software and professional services by 2020.”

TechEye Take Away
We’re not sure what happened between IBM and Intel. Comparing IBM’s presence last year compared to this year’s IDF was completely different. Relationships between companies can take wild swings over internal problems that are kept far from the public eye and we suspect that this may well be operative here. IBM is most interested in the E7 version which remains unannounced though sources report this is scheduled for some time in Q1 2015. We think the apparent lack of mutual devotion is temporary and helps to quiet internal silo wars at IBM for the time being.

Do not be surprised if Intel’s Data Centre Group breaks out into a separate, standalone forum next year.

Intel is working on multiple technology fronts to develop next generation data center architectures capable of real time transaction processing and analytical processing. Keep also in mind that these machines are completely capable of running Cognitive Intelligent Computing currently the domain of IBM but will first ramp in 2015 in an application span called Cognitive Analytics.

Remembering that analytics also includes voice and real-time voice translation leaves wide implications into a number of consumer space applications – think of a gate keeper service melded into cellular phone contracts.

In any regards Mark Bohr is still holding court over Intel’s process development – one of the company’s solid IDF anchors that’s still left at the company. The news is that Intel can build 14 nm FinFet 300 mm wafers in volume and is well on its way to 7 nm with a stop at 10 nm.

Storage software gets boost

emcRevenues from the worldwide storage software market rose by 6.3 percent in the second quarter of this year, according to figures from IDC.

It said revenues during Q2 2014 came to nearly $3.8 billion.

The leaders in the pack were  EMC, IBM and Symantec which had markt shares of 25.9 percent, 16 percent and 13.3 percent respectively.

Data protection and recovery software showed bigger growth, up 10.2 percent in the quarter, compared to the same quarter in 2013.  Revenues for those totalled $1.45 billion. storage infrastructure sales amounted to $448 million.  Storage and device management software sales rose by 4.1 percent to stand at $708 million.

Eric Sheppard, research director of storage software at IDC said there was broad growth over most markets.

”Sales of data protection and recovery software accounted for almost 60 percent of the spending during the quarter, driven by a market wide move to improve application resiliency, continued uptake in appliance based offering and healthy attach rates within the integrated systems market”, he said.

HP beefs up security

HPAccessData and HP are to get closer to each other by increasing security assessment and quick fixes for global organisations.

HP’s service arm, Rapid Incident Respons Services is intended to help corporations quickly investigate what’s gone wrong after a hack and provide forensic evidence of incidents.

HP will now provide further services using AccessData’s Resolution One to give advance warning of security threats and provide alerts to prevent networks, endpoints, mobile devices and applications being compromised.

AccessData claims its ResolutionOne offering will extend HP’s own service with capabilities including root cause analysis, full packet capture network forensics, data on hardware, assessment of malware, and auditing across enterprises.  ResolutionOne also lets security and response teams collaborate in real time with automated batch processing to eradicate threats.

AccessData says it has over 130,000 users in law enforcement, at law firms, government agencies and corporations.

IBM, Intel gang up on cloud

Clouds in Oxford: pic Mike MageeIntel and IBM said they will work together to improve security for cloud computing.

IBM said “SoftLayer” will be the first cloud venture giving bare metal servers using Intel cloud technology that will give security and monitoring down to the microprocessor level. Intel TXT is built for larger enterprises including governmental agencies, financial services companies and healthcare organisations.

The premise is that as large corporations move to a cloud and data centre model, they want to be sure that the computers are as secure as those managed on their own sites.

SoftLayer is an IBM company that provides a global cloud platform built to scale.  100,000 devices are under management, while 18 data centres in Europe, Asia and the USA are in that web too.

IBM customers will buy SoftLayer servers that have a trusted platform module installed.  Intel TXT will let such customers build trusted computing pools of IT resources in the cloud.

SoftLayer belongs to the Intel Cloud Technology programme and uses Xeon E5-2600 V2, Xeon E3-1200 V3 and Xeon E5-4600 microprocessors.

Storage revenues fall

storageWhile still worth $5.9 billion, external storage systems revenue fell by 1.4 percent in the second quarter of this year, according to IDC.

The market research company said a decline in high end systems was coupled with a drop in midrange storage sales too.

While EMC stayed in first place, its market share fell in the quarter from 31.2 percent the year before to 30.1 percent.  NetApp and IBM tied in second place but they also saw drops in their sale.

HP appears to have profited from their market share drop, as it moved to fourth place, while Dell and Hitachi tied for the fifth position.

Moving from external disk storage to the total storage market the top four vendors were EMC, HP, IBM and Dell.

Ohio wants to limit science teaching

BiM65CpIYAAdb-PThe US state of Ohio is considering restricting the teaching of science, in a move which might bring in a  Christian fundamentalist education system.

The bill, currently under consideration by the Ohio Assembly, is intended to revoke a previous approval of the Common Core educational standards, includes sections devoted to science and social studies.

The Common Core standards are based in core existing disciplines of biology, chemistry, and physics; incorporate grade-level mathematics and be referenced to the mathematics standards; focus on academic and scientific knowledge rather than scientific processes; and prohibit political or religious interpretation of scientific facts.

This sounds reasonable but actually, the new law means that teachers will be forbidden to teach the scientific process. They might learn scientific facts, but will not be taught how scientists reached those facts.

The law prohibiting “political or religious interpretation of scientific facts” actually prevents educators from pointing out any evidence that says that the earth is more than 10,000 years old.

Republican Andy Thompson told The Columbus Dispatch that the bill would open the door to instruction on intelligent design. For those who came in late, Intelligent Design is a quasi-scientific way of saying that the world was created 10,000 years ago by a specific god in seven days.

Thompson however is not consistent in his statement of intent. He told the Cincinnati Enquirer that the bill does nothing to put creationism into the classroom what it prevents is politicised science.

That naturally includes the issue of climate change in which he quotes some fake science to say it is untrue and therefore “political.”

Where this will leave IBM which has a big plant in Ohio is anyone’s guess.  It will only be able to find workers who believe you can create data centre class servers by praying to God for them.


Last of the Great Big Blue Mohicans dies

akarJohn Akers, one of the “Last of the Great Big Blue Mohicans” who led IBM to its longtime dominance of the computer industry died of a stroke on Friday. He was 79 years old.

Akers was a former fighter pilot who served as IBM’s chief executive from 1985 to 1993, this was a critical time for Biggish Blue as PCs, Microsoft and Intel started to grow.

However Akers was determined to keep IBM operating using its traditional methods, particularly when it came to being nice to employees.

Akers joined IBM in 1960 and rose through its sales ranks. Four years later, the company released a machine called the System/360 that cleaned the clock of rivals and Akers found himself very busy.

He received 16 promotions in a span of 23 years, but he also dubbed the IBM uniform of blue suits, white shirts and striped ties as “very square.”

As IBM’s mainframe sales tanked in the 1980s, Akers ordered reorganisations and job cuts. During his tenure, IBM posted its first operating loss and recorded more than $15 billion in charges.

He resigned, under pressure and was replaced by Louis Gerstner, Gerstner delivered big changes, including plant closings and a shift away from hardware and toward software and services.

However, Akers was known as a gentleman, who liked and cared for his employees.


IBM gets thumbs up for Lenovo sale

thumbs-up-or-downUS regulators have approved the sale of IBM’s server business to the Chinese outfit, Lenovo.

There had been fears that the deal would be put on ice because the US is currently going through a McCarthy era paranoia over all things Chinese. The NSA was scared that the Chinese would start installing backdoors into their servers, probably because that is just the sort of thing that they would do.

IBM has already divested $16 billion in annual revenue over the past decade from low-margin businesses like personal computers and printers.

However, despite the fact that there was some concern about the deal by the Committee on Foreign Investment agreed that it was probably safe.

Lenovo has been through the secretive CFIUS process three times before and has won approval each time. In this case, it is believed that it argued that all the top-secret server operations would remain under the control of IBM.

CFIUS, an interagency group chaired by the Treasury Secretary, reviews deals that could bring U.S. businesses under foreign ownership and is required by law to assess any transaction involving a state-owned firm.

Lenovo said in a statement that it remains on track to close the IBM server deal by the end of the year.

In fact the deal is more likely to help Lenovo sell its gear in China and the company is less concerned about its US sales. Lenovo has many contacts to sell goods to Chinese companies and Beijing is trying to localize its IT purchases in the wake of revelations about US spying.

IBM applies science to HR cloud

Clouds in Oxford: pic Mike MageeBig Blue said that it has introduced cloud software and initiatives aimed at using analytics and workforce science to human relations.

The buzzwords IBM is using are “workforce engagement and transformation” – it is introducing a talent and change consulting practice supported by 100 behavioural scientists.

The big idea is to use social analytics to identify “top performers”, and guard against people leaving or being poached.

IBM did a survey which revealed that two out of five CEOs believe a big threat to keeping top people on comes from organisations outside their sectors.

The three cloud based applications are Kenexa Predictive Hiring, Kenexa Workforce Readiness and Kenexa Predicting Retention. IBM is starting to sell these cloud based products today.