IBM at UBS Conference Notes

Tom Rosamilia – SVP, IBM Systems

Systems business

” Systems, for those of you who don’t know, is a combination of servers and storage, some responsible for our power business, mainframe business, and our storage business, hardware business software.”

Have to design systems for the cognitive cloud era

“I’ve got to make sure I am designing systems for that cognitive cloud era. They’re not the same as systems that have been built for prior eras like what we continue to do with transaction processing. So I’ve got to build design for cognitive, design for machine learning, design for artificially intelligence, design for systemic performance not just what I get from the processor. So I think the biggest change I am seeing and in addition to the speed is the fact that the infrastructure has to deliver for the workload.”

Blockchain is a great technology to embrace

“We’ve done other things like making job available on the mainframe; so all the new languages are available, so reinvigorating that enterprise. And now blockchain, blockchain to me is a great technology to embrace, because it in of itself is transformational. And so when the research team came to me a little over year ago and said we’re embracing this thing called Hyperledger, and we’d like to work with you on the mainframe environment, I was anxious to do so. And we sit-up in the cloud on the mainframe on LinuxONE back in the summer time a offering for blockchain in cloud. And we’ve got over 40 claims now using it in proof-of-concept mode, transitioning into production mode now to begin to use what they see as a secure container for Hyperledger.”

Broader applications to blockchain than just financial services

“I see it dramatically broadening. But specific use-case I’ll give you is one around supply chain. And I see a lot of the logistics in the supply chain capabilities being transformed by blockchain. Anything that takes a long time to do settlements today and takes multiple players and where I can benefit from having this audit trail and being able to do faster hand-offs, I think is a great example of what we can do with blockchain. I’ll give you a couple of examples. We’re working with the Wal-Mart, they happen to be using LinuxONE on the mainframe for their food supply in China. They want to know where this product started from and where it ended up. If they get a problem in their supply chain somewhere, they want to be able to trace it back to exactly what batch that came from. And if there is a problem with that, I only have to take that batch out of production or that batch off the market. I don’t have to take all the spillage off the shelves because I’ve got one place where it contaminated. So by being able to check the providence of that food supply, they can ensure a much safer food supply in China. ”

Flash is definitely replacing spinning disc storage

” I will tell you from a flash perspective, we were here together three years ago just off the road in Sausalito, and we were talking about convincing people that flash would replace spinning disk. I don’t have that discussion anymore, it’s very clear that that’s happening. So I don’t have to have that price performance discussion. Now, I mostly have the discussion about why I am better than the other guys. But I don’t have to talk them into the transition into flash. We’ve moved flash across our entire product line. You can buy all flash arrays for apron systems, for DSAK model for flash. You can buy store-wise, at models, all-flash. You can buy DeepFlash 150 for scale-out environments for each PC computing. So we put flash in every step along the way in our storage portfolio from the high-end to the low-end. And so that is clearly a transformation that’s happening in the industry and for me.”

We are not just giving up public cloud

“First thing I’ll say is we plan and intend to be a first-class provider in public, in public cloud. We do with the IBM cloud offering. And that is really important for people to understand. We’re not just giving that to others, we’re embracing it. We’re going after it. And making our platform-as-a-service layer available on top of that, it is essential for our strategy going forward. We also do a lot of cloud managed services for customers today, whether it’s on-prem or whether we do in our data centers. And my services colleagues banish that. And then there is this world in between of hybrid. And as I said, really need to define that. Ask vendors to define what that means. What some people think it means is the ability to use capacity on-prem and eventually use it off-prem when I need it.”

Near death experiences are good learning experiences

“So I would actually recommend a near-death experience to anyone in the room. I wouldn’t recommend a death experience. But near-death is a good learning experience. And we certainly went through that. And I think it helps motivate us through transformation and saying, I don’t want to get to the point where I am struggling to keep my head above water. The thing that’s so different for me this time is this move cognitive is one that we’ve initiated, not the one that we’ve reacted to. And so, to me, we’re on the forefront of this. We have the leading capability in cognitive computing. A lot of it invented in IBM research. Some of it augmented by things we’ve done, but most of it really home-grown for our R&D dollar. What I am delivering in systems for cognitive computing is all things that we’ve either done or we’ve partnered with others to do. So, I feel good about it being on the leading edge of this, not being on the bleeding edge of this and thinking about what’s going to happen if we don’t embrace something. We’re driving this. We’re not reacting to this. So that’s a fundamentals difference.”