IBM PureSystems takes on big data
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The traditional job of an enterprise architect is “to produce a huge document saying ‘this is how we do it’ – a document that everyone ignores, because it takes more effort to read and follow it than it does to ignore it,” says IBM “distinguished engineer” Jason McGee.
“With PureSystems kind of technology, you can turn the document into actionable patterns that live in the system. That shifts the inertia and makes it easier to do things the right way. Enterprise architects will think ‘at last I can influence the way things develop’.”
PureSystems are equipped with hundreds of available patterns encoded into the machine, to handle routine tasks in ways recognised as industry best practice. “If you’re going to deploy a piece of middleware for an app server, there’s a 700-page redbook that captures all the experience and best practice about how to set up and configure that software,” says McGee. “What we’re doing with PureSystems is to load [that information] into a catalogue that you can pick from and deploy.”
Other systems may claim tight integration equivalent to the IBM solution but “built-in expertise is, I believe, our unique advantage,” says Nancy Pearson, IBM vice-president of expert integrated systems marketing.
Pearson and her colleagues boast of the tight integration of processing, networking and storage in the PureSystems range as “more than just a bundle”, which might be prone to reverse engineering and imitation. It is as difficult to reverse-engineer full integration as it is to reconstruct the original pieces of meat from which a sausage was made, she says.
Rivals such as Oracle and the Cisco-VMware combination either don’t have a broad enough focus on the full lifecycle of the systems – “they concentrate narrowly on one factor such as performance” or they have insufficiently broad expertise in hardware and software, she says.
Pearson defends the design against any suggestion of old-fashioned customer lock-in. “Our strategy is based on open standards and an open ecosystem of business partners,” she says. “Within the context of an integrated system, we provide choice and flexibility.” There is, for example, nothing to stop a customer using Oracle applications on the PureSystems range, she says.
“There is more danger of lock-in with someone like Oracle, whose fundamental strategy is proprietary,” Pearson alleges.
McGee compares the system to a car; there is no need to know in fine detail how everything works, as long as it delivers what the user needs, he says.
The PureSystems philosophy is not suited to every ICT system within an organisation, Pearson says. Mission-critical systems will still be individually coded; PureSystems is there to take care of the routine tasks that bore and frustrate even those with an interest in technical detail.
In sum, Pearson says, it frees developers to devote less of their work to routine maintenance – “just keeping the lights on” – so they have more time to spend on innovation. It delivers for the business, according to business parameters like cost-effectiveness and time to deliver value.
Many major projects fail because in the 12-18 months’ implementation time requirements change, she says. “We can get a system up and running within 24 hours. You can get value back to the business in 2 months.”
In the first few months of serious marketing, Pearson says, PureSystems have shown themselves particularly attractive to customers in the newer markets – the “high-growth” regions, as IBM calls them - which include much of the Asia-Pacific region, but not much of Australia and New Zealand, where systems are in general more mature and skills are in better supply
Customers in the high-growth regions have more need of systems with a certain amount of pre-packaging to reduce the skill demand and they are less burdened with legacy systems that have to be accommodated or dispensed with. They can “leapfrog” the state of ICT in major Western nations, Pearson says.
• Bell attended the IBM Interconnect conference in Singapore as a guest of IBM.