IBM Impact has been going on at Las Vegas and the buzz around the event is IBM PureSystems. I see a lot of excitement around PureSystems both from IBM side and their customer side. However, I also see some confusion around the messaging. IBM has been sending ambiguous signals around IBM PureApplication Systems which is part of the IBM PureSystem family. There is an attempt to position it as Platform as a Service (PaaS). I find it rather disturbing and feel that it is adding confusion in the minds of enterprise buyers. In fact, I am not even sure if this is IBM’s official position yet. Depending on whom you talk to, you come out with a different perception. If you talk to engineers, they agree that it is not PaaS as in the cloud sense of the term. But if you talk to marketing and sales people, they will want to convince you that it is PaaS. Since the role of an analyst is to go beyond marketing pitches and tell the story as we see it, here I am with a blog post on the topic.
What is IBM PureSystems, BTW?
IBM PureSystems is their attempt at converged and integrated solutions pushing against their traditional competitors while also trying to show off some of their “coolness” to younger generation of IT and developers. Leaving behind the hyperbole, it is an expert integrated system that takes the complexity out for IT and Developers while giving them lot of flexibility and, also, making it easy for bursting out to the IBM’s own cloud. This product family comes in two flavors:
- IBM PureFlex Systems: This is raw compute power which combines compute, storage, networking, virtualization and management into a single infrastructure system. A product that can compete with other converged infrastructure solutions in the market and which takes the complexity of operations out of IT. In layman terms, it is a highly optimized big box of raw compute power.
- IBM PureApplication Systems: It is a platform system tuned specifically for transactional web and database systems. Though not an accurate description, you can imagine it as IBM PureFlex Systems with a WebSphere based platform layer weaved on the top to make it ready to run applications without any operational worries. In layman terms, it is a highly optimized powerful box ready to run applications out of the box.
IBM PureApplication Systems are PaaS?
Aha, this is a case of another vendor cloud washing their legacy solution, right?
Not exactly. Even though PureApplication Systems are not PaaS in the strictest sense of the term, it is a pretty interesting offering, nevertheless. Let us face it folks, legacy apps are not going anywhere anytime soon. Organizations having invested such large amounts (foolishly?) on legacy applications are going to be conservative and will look only for incremental changes. Yes, I do agree that many enterprises are developing greenfield apps whenever they go for a new app but when it comes to existing apps, they are taking incremental steps which also includes pushing legacy apps to cloud or cloud like infrastructures (private cloud). This trend is going to continue for the next five years or so and opens up a great opportunity for a solution like PureSystems, which essentially takes the complexity out of the application platform in a highly optimized way. Remember, labor is still a significant part of the total cost of ownership and any solution that drastically reduces labor costs is considered to be a welcome addition to the market. It is not just the cost savings that is attractive but the agility it offers is really attractive to the large enterprises (the ones who are still not sure about cloud computing but want some of its benefits). In this sense, PureSystems family is a pretty good product in the market.
Though it is not PaaS, it offers many of the advantages offered by the cloud and when it is offered as a service from managed service providers, it even cuts down the CapEx for organizations. For organizations sticking on with legacy applications, such highly optimized solutions are a real boon. IBM can easily target this market (which is large, BTW) by unleashing their marketing and sales teams to “convince” customers to buy PureSystems. If the mood at Impact 2012 is any indication, they are on it already. It is not a PaaS by any standards but a highly optimized solution for large enterprises with large legacy investment and attitude. More interestingly, their idea of patterns will bring DevOps into these organizations, helping them improve drastically on the agility front.
Disclosure: IBM is a client and they also took care of my Impact travel and stay expenses.