In an event that was very unlike its traditional launches, IBM recently keynoted its Information Infrastructure strategy at three parallel events, the main one being in Montpellier, France, where IBM has one of its major development centres. It was the largest-ever infrastructure launch of new storage hardware, software and services the company has ever undertaken. This sweeping initiative was intended to address the major shift in the flow of the world's data.
The announcement, and rightly so, was deliberately devoid of the underlying and numerous, nearly 50, specific product announcements that supported this initiative and which were the building blocks for the integrated solutions a customer may require.
IBM’s Information Infrastructure strategy is based on a program that was started early in 2006, with an investment cost of some $2bn, and which has involved over 2500 storage technical professionals, engineers and researchers from nine different countries including France, Germany, Israel, Japan, the UK and the USA .
These new technologies and services for businesses and government are designed to tackle massive growth and mobility of data, skyrocketing energy costs, security concerns and more demanding users.
Andy Monshaw, general manager of IBM System Storage worldwide
Again, and as part of this strategy and a departure from IBM’s historic norm, it was realised that numerous acquisitions would be involved in the fulfilment of this project. Several of these take-overs were completed earlier this year with one or two in only the last few weeks/months.
The eight key buy-outs include Arsenal, Cognos, Diligent, FilesX, NovusCG, Optim, Softek and XIV. Indications at the launch suggested that this new acquisition philosophy would be part of IBM’s on-going strategy and that further announcements could be expected to complement its own internal activities and exploitation of its inherent intellectual property.
Explosive data growth
IBM believes that the storage requirement for organisations is growing at a rate well in excess of 100% per annum (a much higher figure than analysts are currently suggesting, which is a CAGR of 54%), and that current solutions would be unable to cope with this type of growth, thus necessitating the new approach that has now been announced.
For instance, personal information held by organisations is expected to grow 16 times by 2020; 80% of data stored is now unstructured by nature; and that image storage with its high definition requirements pushes up that storage requirement by 1000-fold.
In addition, the conventional IT and data storage infrastructure is not designed to efficiently manage the estimated two billion people that will be using the Web by 2011. IBM expects one trillion connected objects, eg, appliances, cameras, cars, pipelines and roadways, which would constitute the new Internet of ‘things’ by that date.
The business issues
From a business perspective the issues can be summarised under three headings:
* I have to store it; a compliance issue.
* I want to store it; it has business value.
* I cannot store it; I do not have the budget.
From an IBM viewpoint, its objectives are, when looked at from a user’s perspective, to reduce reputation risks (ie, information compliance), deliver continuous information access (ie, information availability), support information retention policies (ie, information retention), and, enable secure sharing of information (ie, information security).
Some of the highlights of the specific announcements, which are in the areas of compliance, Internet-scale availability; consolidation and retention; and, security; include:
* New disk storage systems.
* New storage virtualisation software.
* New data de-duplication software and hardware.
* Onsite and remote data protection offerings.
. . . to name but a few.
In addition to the above, IBM also has incubating in its labs such projects as a long-term archiving solution, solid state technologies, memory breakthroughs and some realtime decision making that will further enhance future storage offerings.
I believe IBM has read the market well and done an excellent job of positioning itself to take advantage of the emerging trends within the storage arena. The timing with the current financial crisis may be a little unfortunate; however, businesses can only defer their decisions for a limited period, otherwise the consequences could be disastrous.