Written by Jai Menon
At any given time, businesses can be confronted by a wide variety of issues and concerns. One that we in systems development try to focus on is inflexibility. That’s why we spend a great deal of time trying to create IT solutions that are flexible enough to meet the growing and changing needs of business, while being easy to deploy and manage.
Our businesses across industries and sectors have many different kinds of workloads to run. Transaction-based systems, for example, which serve thousands or millions of users at the same time, 24/7, or analytics systems that have fewer users but can require deep complex computation. The challenge is how do you satisfy all these different needs to run different kinds of tasks?
There are two different approaches in use today: businesses can standardize on one kind of computer system, and use that for all their different business tasks. Or, they can buy multiple types of computer systems, each optimized for one of the many different kinds of workloads they have to run.
For those that standardize on a single type of computer, the system can work well for specific tasks, but they tend to wind up being a poor fit for many other workloads. As a result, they inadequately meet all of the business needs.
For those that spend their resources on multiple types of systems, the challenge over time is management: software management, systems management, support management. All these additional management resources can be time-consuming and costly.
So the big challenge, on which we have been working, is to develop a category of systems that can be optimized for each of the different workloads, while still making IT easily consumable – a new category of expert integrated systems.
We have been deeply involved with partners in thousands of engagements and we know that what they value is shifting. Their IT leaders have been telling us: "Come up with new computers that take up less floor space and are faster to deploy. But please make sure I can reuse my existing assets, skills and software.” More and more, they are looking for systems with the flexibility of the cloud with the simplicity of an appliance. Just imagine if we could develop new systems that would meet all those needs while greatly improving the client's experience.
We have taken up this challenge. The new systems on which we are now working will be in a whole new category – a category that combines the flexibility of general purpose systems and the simplicity and workload optimization of an appliance. The systems will come integrated with ‘expertise,’ practical and technical business insight in such areas as deployment, IT management, automation, and optimization.
These new systems will provide integration by design, with pre-tuned solutions for optimal performance and efficiency. They will make every part of the IT life cycle easier with integrated management of the entire system. And they will be pre-configurable for specific business or industry solutions, taking just a few hours, not weeks, to set up and deploy.
These “expert integrated systems” will change the face of computing in the enterprise forever through automation and simplicity and usher in a new era of computing.
About the Author: Jai Menon, IBM Fellow, CTO and VP, Technical Strategy, has responsibility for strategy, emerging business opportunities, university and industry alliances, technical leadership, and technical vitality for IBM’s Systems & Technology Group. He is a Distinguished Alumnus of both IIT, Madras and of Ohio State University (from where he earned M.S. & Ph.D degrees in Computer Science).