IBM isn’t backing away from hardware into services, says Peter Judge
For years now, people have been expecting IBM to move away from hardware into services. That’s what has happened to all the other mainframe vendors of the 1970s and 1980s. And IBM has clearly built up a lot of software and services muscle in the last few years.
Surely, mainframes have been superseded by micro-based architectures, and no propritary RISC architecture can stand against the might of Intel Xeon? That’s been the received wisdom surrounding players such as Oracle’s SPARC, and Intel/HP’s Itanium. They are still around, but seriously , for how long?
IBM’s POWER architecture seems to be made of sterner stuff. The company has built it into the PureSystems line of hybrid mainframes, and it is the basis of serious machines for Linux and Windows servers.
Today’s launch of Power7+ servers is a serious statement – Power servers are not just competing in the RISC rumpus room with SPARC and Itanium – they are going up against Xeon server
The timing is pretty good, as Xeon is at a hiatus before the arrival of the Xeon 5 and Xeon 7 processors. And IBM’s marketing is, as ever, on song.
Watson has been a mainstream media success, with its appearances on quiz shows, and its ability to answer real world questions and sift huge amounts of data place it in the spot where IT functions are being asked to go.
The Power7+ servers are being sold under the banner of “Big Data for the masses” which sounds like a good one. Big Data has been a major buzzword for the last year or two, and has been associated with high end projects at large companies. Making it available on lower cost hardware, with the Watson brand to give it more credibility, outhg tto be a good one.
The only caveat could be that many people may be fed up with hearing about Big Data, and small firms may actually take some convincing to adopt it. It might turn out that in using Big Data to sell the new hardware, IBM is saddling itself with a responsibility to educate its customers.
That’s maybe not a problem for IBM, though, since the company likes nothing better than talking about analytics and Big Data anyway.
All in all, these new boxes look like a good way to re-emphasise that IBM is still in the hardware game, and to push IBM’s Big Data message.
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