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March 18, 2012 / berniespang

How to make the most of expertise built up from decades of experience

One of the things I enjoy about my career at IBM is the opportunity to be part of figuring out, and ushering in, new generations of business computing technology – delivering new levels of value to our clients.  I was fortunate enough to be in on the first generation of fiber optic channels (for the System z mainframe); in IBM Software for the early days of Java;  on the WebSphere team at the beginning of Web services, SOA, and the launch of the eclipse platform and community; and most recently to help shape the vision for Information on Demand to power a new generation of Business Analytics and Optimization.

It’s that time again.

First, a bit of context….

It’s not just about engineering a system. It is about the expertise to make the most of it.

This week Eric Savitz, at Forbes wrote that “Jefferies analyst Ross MacMillan late Sunday cut his rating on Oracle to Hold from Buy…”    Referring to MacMillian:

he writes in a research note. “We also have increased concerns that the relational database is facing multiple threats including SAP’s HANA, increased adoption of SaaS by enterprise customers (especially [of] and Workday) and the potential risk of disruption from new approaches to analyzing large volumes of unstructured data.”

If you have read my past posts, you know I generally agree that we have entered a new era of data management that has significant implications for technology providers.

He also notes:

The Jefferies analyst contends that Oracle is seeing challenges with its engineered system strategy. He asserts that Exadata adoption “has moderated,” that Oracle Database Appliance adoption has not been as strong as expected and that the company’s Exalogic systems are “still seeking a viable use case.” He adds that he is “concerned that the strategy is not playing out to plan with implications for growth.”

Coincidentally, 3 days earlier IBM Executive IT Specialist Roman Kharkovski posted an in-depth analysis of what Oracle Exalogic is – and is not.

Bottom line is that out of the box, this Exalogic machine is nothing else, but a 42U rack of x86 servers mounted on a single rack and weighting 966 kg (2131 lb for those of us metrically challenged). You, the Oracle customer must apply your skills and expertise to turn this rack into something useful.

Roman followed with a great explanation that It’s not just about engineering a system. It is about the expertise to make the most of it.   Answering the questions: “what should the next generation of systems really be? What do enterprises need from their systems today?”

Now I invite you to learn how IBM is answering these questions:

Introducing the world’s first family of systems with integrated expertise

Join us on April 11, 2012 when IBM launches a new breed of systems with integrated expertise. These new systems leverage built-in expertise, integration by design, and a simplified overall experience to fundamentally change the economics of IT. Not only will it revolutionize operations, your entire enterprise will benefit from immediate access to the collective knowledge of thousands of deployments and millions of lessons learned.

I will write about this in more depth in April.  But for now, let’s just say I am looking forward to another fun ride as this next move forward unfolds.

March 14, 2012 / berniespang

International Informix User Group set to meet in San Diego

Maybe it is the new San Diego location bringing back more returnees this year?  Maybe the increase in international registrations are from the growing number of new Informix clients and partners we have seen in the last year?  I am hoping it is both.

But whatever the reasons, I was excited to hear that the pace of registrations is up significantly for this year’s International Informix Users Group Conference, April 22-25.  This annual conference is the largest gathering of Informix users.

Highlights include:

  • New location : San Diego, CA
  • Over 100 sessions with 2 new tracks and many new speakers
  • New sessions on complementary IBM products:  WebSphere, Lotus, Tivoli, InfoSphere, Guardium, Cognos, etc
  • New content for all Informix versions and features
  • Optional Half and Full Day Tutorials to maximize your training dollars
  • FREE Hands On Labs from IBM

Whether you are an Informix user that has not kept up with all the new value delivered in the last few years, or one that has experience with the latest features to share with fellow users, I encourage you to Join us in San Diego.

Also, for those of you may have missed it, the first Informix India User Group meeting was held in Mumbai last month.  I was very happy to attend this event, and personally hear from co-sponsor Avanti Software Solutions their passionate appreciation for the unique values of IBM Informix software for powering their growing application portfolio.

March 4, 2012 / berniespang

IBM Information Champions help clients succeed

Have you seen the video: The Fillmore Group on JP Morgan’s successful migration from Oracle to IBM, with Information Champions Frank Fillmore and Kim May?  It is a great story about how DB2 helped lower cost and complexity while increasing reliability for mission critical Web applications.  But is also a great example of the value of IBM Information Champions – to our clients and to the community.

The IBM Champion program recognizes innovative thought leaders in the technical community — and rewards these contributors by amplifying their voice and increasing their sphere of influence.

You can read more IBM Champion stories at Mastering Data Management – e.g., from Informix Champion Lester Knutsen; DB2 Champion Dave Beulke; and one of our newest Champions, co-founder, president and CEO of TerraEchos, Alex Philp.

Alex’s story is an interesting example of taking on new generation Big Data challenges:

TerraEchos began by analyzing pressure waves with the US Navy. All events – in the air, on land or even subterranean – create waves that can be translated into digital acoustic signals. These signals produce incredible amounts of unstructured data at very fast speeds…

But it’s more than just computations: InfoSphere Streams and TerraEchos truly manage the information, and do so incredibly quickly, at a pace of 300 MB/second.  That velocity is essential for the “in motion” part of the equation. After all, in security matters, you don’t have time to stop and analyze static data. And, Alex noted, that adds a layer of complexity, “that most people are not quite dealing with yet.”

The technical expertise these professionals bring to bear on projects is obviously critical to the success of their companies and their customers.  What might not be as obvious is the impact their contributions are having on the community.  Many of the Champions have been recognized for the education they offer their peers though articles, books, conference sessions, user group meetings or teaching classes.   By sharing their time, experience and success stories, they are strengthening the entire community and influencing the success of others.

You can search for Champions by area of expertise at IBM developerWorks.

February 26, 2012 / berniespang

Better results, lower cost for a broad set of new IBM clients and partners

A number of stories I heard in the last couple of weeks made me appreciate the broad range of new IBM clients and partners we have seen recently.  I think the diversity supports the points I have been making about a new era of data management where IT professionals are demanding the best solution to address each requirement.

Better performance, reliability, and hands free administration

I had the good fortune of attending the Informix India User Group meeting last week in Mumbai.   One of the stand out stories was from event sponsor Avanti Software Solutions, who shared why they recently moved their application portfolio, including Retail and eGovernment solutions, to IBM Informix software.   Previously they had used Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle Database.   The net:   better performance, reliability and hands free administration makes their solution better and saves their clients time and money.   As a result, we are welcoming new IBM Informix clients across India from small 300 transactions a day retailers, to government agencies serving millions of citizens.  (if you missed it, I outlined other Informix client stories in my last post.)

More companies need the best – to be the best

Then this week I learned that IBM added 76 System z (“mainframe”) clients in the last 5 quarters – more than in the previous 5 years.  And we are expecting an even bigger number this year.   Why?  Aspiring global leaders in emerging markets that need to compete at a higher level than ever before; the new zEnterprise 114, that starts at $75,000–the lowest entry price ever for an IBM mainframe; and companies who need to cut costs by consolidating their inefficient Linux server sprawl.   The net here: lower operating costs along with advantages in security and reliability – these systems pretty much run with zero downtime.

Roughly half of these additional System z clients are returns by companies that had previously stopped using System z.   I think that is a very exciting stat.  Both new and renewed appreciation for the unique advantages of System z may be why more that 1000 schools are teaching classes and labs with IBM System z in countries such as China and India, as well as the US.

Rapid deployment analytics for competitive advantage

Those 2 stories reminded me that in the most recent IBM earnings report, CFO Mark Loughridge noted: “strong performances from our Netezza offerings, which were up nearly 70 percent. This appliance complements and extends our business analytics portfolio with a rapidly deployed, low-cost-of-ownership solution for high performance queries and analytics. For the quarter, almost a third of the transactions were with new Netezza clients. Since acquiring Netezza, IBM has expanded its customer base by over 40 percent. And when we go head-to-head against competition in Proof of Concepts we had a win rate of over 80 percent this quarter.”

I love the MediaMath story as an example of why Netezza systems are winning IBM new clients.  Early in the start-up’s life, MediaMath used and outgrew MySQL. They tried Oracle Standard Edition with about five terabytes of data and found it wanting. According to Chief Technology Officer Roland Cozzolino, it was difficult to ingest and store data from 50 million daily transactions, let alone handle their growth to 350 million transactions per day. It took “tons of partitions to summarize and break data into vertical buckets by advertiser for analysis,” said Cozzolino, and the Oracle platform limited any critical ad hoc analysis capabilities that were required to understand data value and to “gain a horizontal view of the business.”   Cozzolino reported, “We selected Netezza because it offered the best ROI, the fastest time to market of any solution, ease of use and a low total cost of ownership.”

Lower cost, higher performance SAP landscape

Yesterday I read a post by Conor O’Mahony with video from the IOD conference where Coca-cola Bottling shared its experience moving from Oracle Databse to DB2 ….  the net:  $100,000 potential savings  outweighed zero existing DB2 skills in the decision to move its SAP landscape from Oracle Database to DB2.  And now a skeptical 12 year Oracle DBA veteran “would not go back.”   Additional benefits noted: a  supply chain manager noticed the improved performance, and they double the numbers of records over 3 years without having to add storage – thanks to ongoing advances in DB2 deep compression.

Cutting database costs in half

And finally, watching that video reminded me of another compelling story I heard directly from a new client at the IOD conference.  Reliance Life Insurance Company, one of India’s leading insurers, cut database total cost of ownership in half by switching from Oracle Database on Sun servers to IBM DB2 on Power Systems.     In a  2011 case study, Reliance notes that in addition to cost savings, application availability has also increased significantly. “When we were on Oracle Database, downtime of our applications was quite high,” says Ms. Daga. “After we moved to DB2, we were actually able to report 95 percent uptime of all applications as compared to only 80 percent with Oracle Database.”  Most notable is that these improvements have come as the number of concurrent users IT supports has grown fourfold. “When we had Oracle Database, we only scaled to 3,000 concurrent users for our portal,” adds Ms. Daga. “Since we moved to DB2, our capacity has increased to 12,000 concurrent users.”

One size DOES NOT BEST FIT all

In today’s information intensive world, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all data management solution – if “fit” means optimal preformance and cost efficiency.  A growing number of organizations are realizing better results and lower costs by switching to data management software and systems that best fits each of their needs.

February 10, 2012 / berniespang

Informix helps businesses of all sizes around the world save money and grow

I have found that most people  in the database software arena have no idea how much Informix software continues to helps organizations of various sizes and industries around the world.  Since I started this blog as a means to communicate both my views on database software and systems, and the truths about this part of the IBM portfolio, I believe it is incumbent upon me to do some education on this subject.

Case studies posted in just last year…

Reliable and Efficient Geographically Distributed Data Grids

  • ColCeramica (Columbia)

ERP system for manufacturing and distribution… Cognos software for analytics… 1/2 DBA for Informix grid across 16 distribution centers… 50% faster than Oracle Database or Microsoft SQL Server in POC testing… Partner: IT Consultings

  • Federacio Famaceutica (Spain)

Pharmaceutical distribution system with Informix grid across 6 processing centers and 7 physical warehouses…30% reduction in hardware and DBA time required… IBM Power Systems and Global Financing.. Business Partner: Deister

  • Mcleod Russel India (India)

The world’s largest tea producer needed to improve systems up-time across its 50-plus tea gardens to enable accurate tracking of harvest, production and marketing of up to 100 million kilos of tea per year… 300+ endpoints…. 100% up-time… 90% faster performance… <1yr ROI

  • Automercados Plaza’s (Venezuala)

Family owned grocery store chain uses InfoSphere software to integrated Informix-based retail sales consolidation system with SAP… 30% revenue growth and 35% reduction of product loss… across 15 stores + corporate systems… with the help of partner IT Consultings

Modernized Web/Mobile/Cloud access

  • Bockmann Fahrzeugwerke (Germany)

Partner Adaptris used Informix Genero to update the user interface of a trusted systems in 2 weeks… improved employee productivity to handle business growth.

  • In case you missed my last post re: Mitchell & McCormick  (US) health care provider solution via the cloud with Genero

“Set it and forget it” easy and reliable

  • National Institute for Testing and Evaluation (Isreal)

100% up time… easy to administer

  • Small retailer (India)

Not a public one I can point you to, but another great example..  in 3 weeks Partner Avanti Software added Informix support to their retail management system… then in 3 days updated a client with 2 stores that avg 300 transactions per day.    The former SQL Server based solution required DBA skills the retailer did not have or could afford.   Informix hands free data management met their needs.

Deep compression reduces storage costs

  • Cleartech (Brazil)

Telecomm billing system with avg 12B call records / mo…  data retention requirements growing from 1 to 5 years – to 11TB… Informix data compression avoids $1.8M of new storage… 69% better performance.. back-ups from 8 to 2.5 hrs.. reports 30% faster… thanks to the work of  partner MC Software

Data Warehousing for Business Analytics

  • Superior Manufacturing Group (US)

Family owned Floor matting products provider  increases efficiency and profitability by using Cognos Express integrated with Informix based custom ERP apps… thanks to the work of partner One Point Solutions.

TimeSeries for Smart meter & sensor data management

  • Coldset Printing Partners (Belgium)

Commercial printing plant reduces energy consumption by 10% with Energcon solution using Informix TimeSeries

  • AMT-Sybex (Ireland)

AMT-Sybex partners with IBM Research and IBM Informix teams to deliver unprecedented performance and efficiency handling Smart Meter data.

Read more about Informix TimeSeries and the 100M Meter benchmark with AMT-Sybex

February 3, 2012 / berniespang

DB2 and Informix partners realize new business value through “the Cloud”

If your customer’s data center was lost to a fire – would you be able to help them be up and running in a day or two?   Are you are  you looking to expand your customer base beyond those that can afford their own data centers…. without having to become an outsourced data center provider?

Last post I wrote about the value of “Cloud” technologies to improve an organization’s agility and IT economics.  But I forgot to mention the impact that this technology evolution can have for business application providers.   There are two stories I want to share that highlight this impact.

Cloud enabled “Software as a Service” solves a business continuity emergency

Mitchell and McCormick is an industry leader in providing solutions for the Public, Mental, Rural, and Environmental Healthcare industries.   One of their clients, a medium-large sized health care provider that has run its operations with M&M software for many years, experienced the unfortunate challenge of a fire that significantly damaged its data center.

Amazingly, they got their system back in full operation in just a couple of days!   There were two reasons for this.  First, they wisely maintained off site backups of data.  Second, and the point of this story, M&M had worked with IBM partner Four Js and Informix Genero technology to cloud-enable its software in preparation to expand its business.   M&M was able to quickly give the client access to its software on the M&M cloud environment; restore the backed up data; and provide the capabilities it needed to take care of patients and run its business.

Cloud technologies expand market opportunity

Silanis is the world’s largest and most experienced E-Signature provider, with clients in insurance, banking and government.   In order to expand into new markets and reach a broader customer-base beyond on-premise enterprise customers, Silanis implemented an on-cloud solution.   Taking this approach saved Silanis time and up front costs of setting up its own data center to power its business expansion strategy.  Now new clients, such as a small mortgage provider that could not have deployed a complete on-premise environment, are able to offer e-signature services to accelerate their processes and attract and delight new clients.  Another example is this story about state government contract signing in the Cloud.

e-SignLive™ is a cloud-based e-signature service integrated with IBM’s LotusLive cloud-based collaboration platform  (Note: this was prior to LotusLive joining the IBM SmartCloud portfolio).   In addition to providing the collaborative e-signature services via the Web, this solution takes advantage of both WebSphere Application Server and DB2 as platform services in the Cloud.

Clear business values of the Cloud 

So there it is, two clear business values of the Cloud for solution providers:

  1. new business continuity solutions through greater deployment agility
  2. opportunity expansion through faster and lower cost access to software

For those of you who get challenged about “the Cloud” being over-hyped,  I recommend using stories like these that show real business solutions that lower cost, reduce risk and expand revenue opportunity.

February 1, 2012 / berniespang

“The Cloud” for data management and Hadoop-based Big Data analytics

One of my colleagues pointed out to me this week that I have not yet commented much on the topic of Cloud computing.  I have to be honest – it could be because I have a bit of an eye-rolling reaction to “the Cloud.”

Value behind the marketing hype

I do think there is a great deal of client value in the agility and cost efficiency of implementing an IT environment that takes advantages of “Cloud technologies” – public and/or private.  My eye-rolling is provoked by the marketing hype use of Cloud as a buzzword.

For example, Microsoft’s “To the Cloud” TV commercials.  These showcase what I have for many years called an Internet app.   It reminds me of when an IBM distinguished engineer explained Enterprise Java Beans to me years ago and I said “OK, it a data structure – I learned about those in high school.”   Then a few years later he educated me on Web Services  – “Again,  I learned about remote procedure calls in high school.”   His response both times was along the lines of – “basically they are the same concepts – but this is a new evolution that merges in important advances in technology standards.

I similarly consider Cloud computing to be an evolution of Internet applications and services that merges in advances in virtualization standards.   This important evolution automates capacity growth – dramatically saving time and cost.  What is even more interesting is how this advance enables computing infrastructure and platform services via the Internet – in addition to the applications themselves.

That’s the real value here – not just the marketing buzzword value of saying a Web app is on the Cloud.

Data management and Big Data analysis via the Cloud

So how does that relate to the topic of this blog?  Database software and other information systems, such as the Hadoop-based InfoSphere BigInsights, are now being used more easily and cost effectively by those accessing them as either private or public Cloud services.  IBM offers DB2, Informix and InfoSphere software as services deploy-able  in a private Cloud environment, or accessible as a service from the IBM SmartCloud or via Cloud service partners.

For those interested in understanding the value  of a private cloud environment, I would suggest reading:  A study on reducing labor costs through the use of IBM Workload Deployer.     And for an understanding of how the competition stacks up, Roman Kharkovsi does a nice job in: Comparison of two private cloud tools from IBM and Oracle.

While I am at it, Roman has another related post:  Comparison of IBM and Oracle public cloud offerings (SaaS, PaaS, IaaS)    You may also want to check out the client success stories highlighted at the IBM SmartCloud.

It’s all about improving IT Economics

So what do you think?  Is all this Cloud talk just over hype, or are you using Cloud technologies to improve IT economics – enabling you to actually do more with less?