by Natalie Miller • @natalieatWIS

With hybrid cloud on IBM’s horizon, attendees reflect on InterConnect 2015

Published March 05, 2015


In this disrupt or be disrupted world, hybrid cloud’s promise of visibility and control has earned notice from IT professionals and decision makers alike. At IBM’s InterConnect conference in Las Vegas last week, hybrid solutions dominated the conversation. The digital transformation and influx of big data has revealed the advantages of cloud implementation beyond merely cost savings to now recognizing its potential to drive innovation.

According to Gartner, over 70 percent of private cloud implementations fail. This is due to the tendency to focus on the implementation of the technology and the cost savings rather than from a strategic and innovative perspective.

“In order to truly become more agile and change as your customer requirements change and have a flexible infrastructure that supports that and [supports] growth, you need to think about it strategically,” says Nancy Pearson, CMO, IBM Cloud. “[Cloud] is a platform for innovation.”

IBM calls this shift the “hybrid state,” explains Mo Abdula, VP Cloud Strategy, IBM. “This year it’s really all been around how we enable a lot of those enterprises to really take advantage of what we are calling the hybrid state. By hybrid state, it’s not just work they are doing around  their infrastructure, which is classically how people think about cloud—compute storage network, etc.—but hybrid state in terms of their applications, their data, and their infrastructure, so it’s a combination of these things.”

Chuck Crosby, IT Senior Audit Manager at State Street, attended InterConnect to learn more about SoftLayer, as his company—a leading service provider of financial services—evaluates both IBM and Microsoft for its public cloud provider.

“We have our own private cloud,” explains Crosby. But the company is looking to move its DevOps into a public cloud environment. “The sessions have been great,” he continues. “They reconfirmed a lot of what we know [about SoftLayer].”

IBM’s goal last week was to clearly communicate the hybrid cloud point of view, says Pearson, which reframes the conversation somewhat around what is hybrid. “People have different ideas around what that means,” she explains. “Traditionally it’s meant that I’m going to connect my public cloud with my private cloud. With SaaS, it’s actually connecting multi-clouds; you’re going to have applications in a public cloud environment, you’re going to potentially have infrastructure-as-a-service, and you could be leveraging infrastructure behind a firewall in a private cloud environment.”

Hybrid cloud brings visibility, control, and security, as well as enterprise application portability, and it also supports developer productivity. IBM DataWorks, which was announced last week, is a new service around this capability to move data to where the decision making is done, move the application to the data, or the data to the application.

The ability to have data where it needs to be allows enterprises to accomplish what they want, explains Pearson.

IBM’s hybrid platform, particularly, focuses on roles or capabilities in terms of what those roles really need to do or want to do within the enterprise. This shift aligns with IBMs move out of branding restrictions and toward a buyer-centric model that focuses on the customers goal holistically, explains Scott Hebner, IBM’s Vice President of Global Marketing.

The “new way to work,” IBM’s InterConnect theme, begins with the whole notion of cohort buyers, he explains.

“It’s not just about what a particular buyer wants to achieve by using our technology, but what are the behaviors that they go through to make decisions and apply the [technology],” says Hebner. “The way IBM is organized now is not by business unit in terms of Rational, Tivoli, and WebSphere [etc.], but more of a buyer-centric model that says, ‘This buyer is trying to accomplish X; out of the entire IBM portfolio, what are the appropriate elements that would help their path to proficiency.’”

This notion of focusing less on how IBM is organized and more on what the buyer is trying to achieve played heavily into how Big Blue planned its InterConnect conference, which merged Pulse, Innovate, and Impact together into one mega cloud and mobile show.

For those who still identify with the brands, Maunic Dharia of Abbott, who attended the conference last week to learn more about IBM WebSphere Application Service, the conference was packed with helpful sessions on the brands and areas of interest. Dharia’s thoughts, while unfavorable toward the two locations—the conference was held both in the MGM Grand and Mandalay Bay hotels—were that the keynotes, sessions on WAS, Tivoli, and troubleshooting were helpful; in particular a session on how to tune your current environment, as well as how to utilize Liberty technology.

Sanjay Tibrewal of Liberty Mutual enjoyed talking to BPM and API management experts as his focus surrounds building a roadmap, and John O’Brien of Excellus BCBS felt the sessions he attended on DataPower, Integration Bus, and MQ were well done and helpful.

From security to cognitive computing and from the solution floor to specific sessions, the conference was designed to broaden the value for the client and developer, explains Hebner.

“There was a lot of effort put in to making it really straightforward for people to not only understand what is here if I went to Innovate or if I went to Pulse or Impact, but to plan your week,” he explains, and adds that InterConnectGO connects attends with the material long after they have left Sin City.

For Deborah Thomas of Raytheon Missile Systems, this provides some consolation, as she felt that with so many sessions, it was difficult to attend everything she had hoped to attend, plus the keynotes drew crowds from sessions as well—namely her session on gamification of Rhapsody.

Josh Allen contributed to this report.



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