Finding The i In The Power Ecosystem And Strategy
Published: January 13, 2014
by Dan Burger
The IBM Power Systems portfolio covers a lot of territory. Where the IBM i portion of that very large ecosystem fits into the puzzle is often questioned, particularly when it comes to sales and marketing efforts. IBM i roadmaps are used to explain commitments to the platform and Technology Refreshes are examples of IBM investments. Growth of the platform depends on independent software vendor (ISV) solutions, where IBM investments in co-marketing activities are fuel that fills the sales gas tank.
Pumping that juice is Terri Virnig, vice president of Power ecosystem and strategy. She has responsibility for all aspects of the Power ecosystem, including significant programs in categories that align with ISVs, solutions, OpenPower, universities, and managed service providers (MSPs). Her background also includes responsibility for the Enterprise Power Systems portfolio; technical, sales, and marketing strategy for cloud, analytics and Smarter Planet; and leading the development of the Power Systems cloud computing strategy.
Virnig knows the Power Systems territory. What she has to say about it echoes what the other IBM Power Systems executives have said: The commitment and the investment is still strong; emerging markets will bring new business to the IBM i platform; and managed service providers featuring IBM i on Power will see increasing success in the IBM i community in the coming years.
Last week, Virnig answered an assortment of questions via email that I hope you will read and consider. I'd also like to hear what you think. Your comments are encouraged. Take it from here.
IT Jungle: It's important that IBM i customers have a better idea how and where the IBM i platform is being marketed. It's part of the question whether IBM is continuing to invest in the platform. So what can you say about that?
Terri Virnig: IBM is committed to and continues to invest in the IBM i platform as key element of our Power Systems business portfolio. Many of your readers may remember that we publicly released IBM i roadmap charts at various venues last year showing support that extends beyond 2020. And, of course, from a near-term perspective we're delivering a major new release, IBM i 7.2, in first half of 2014, so watch out for new capabilities across the board and especially in the areas of database, security, and systems management. Our ongoing commitment to IBM i is very clear from our regular semi-annual delivery of IBM i Technology Refreshes.
IT Jungle: Can you identify industry verticals that are of specific importance?
Virnig: While we have clients in almost every industry sector, key markets for the IBM i platform continue to be financial services, retail, distribution, and manufacturing. Increasingly, we see those solutions delivered through the cloud via managed service providers in our IBM business partner and ISV community. That's why we hosted the IBM i Cloud Summit for MSPsi Cloud Summit for MSPs and ISVs in Rochester in October.
IT Jungle: Can you identify geographies that are particularly important to IBM i?
Virnig: North America, Europe and Japan have always been and continue to be strong markets for IBM i. And, in recent years, our presence is widening in growth markets, particularly in the Asian and Latin American financial services markets. A good example is a recent new IBM i client installation at Phu Hung Life in Vietnam.
IT Jungle: Most people tend to look at marketing in terms of advertising and getting a message to companies that are unfamiliar with IBM i that the platform is a better alternative than Windows or AIX. Is any marketing money being invested in the area of competitive wins--migrating business from another platform to IBM i? If so, what is the marketing strategy for this?
Virnig: The majority of our IBM i marketing spend is focused on co-marketing activities with ISVs, whose solutions are the primary driver of platform adoption. Examples include co-marketing activities with key partners like Vision Solutions and Zend Technologies. We also recognize the growing value of social media marketing, which is why we celebrated the 25th anniversary of IBM i via our highly successful IBMi25 campaign on Facebook, Twitter, and through our extensive community of bloggers. Our global IBM marketing teams capitalized on the IBMi25 theme in multiple clients' events worldwide. These marketing events included COMMON, but also featured additional events in multiple markets like Taiwan, Belgium, Japan, New Zealand, China, Spain, Italy, France, UK, and many more.
IT Jungle: The IBM i community is well aware that Microsoft, for instance, has a program in place to persuade IBM i shops to migrate their systems to Windows. It's not apparent that IBM has a strategy to counteract this or to persuade Microsoft customers to come to i.
Virnig: Our strategy is to promote solutions on IBM i through our ISV partners, many of whom are attracting new mid-sized business clients that may also consider Microsoft Windows solutions. Today, many of these IBM i ISVs are growing their business by offering their highly competitive solutions through new routes, including Software as a Service (SaaS) in the cloud.
IT Jungle: We have written about the ITG reports that were published about a year ago that made the total cost of ownership and the resiliency arguments in favor of IBM i. I assume these are examples of marketing investments on behalf of IBM i. Are there other investments of a similar nature that we can discuss that were either accomplished during 2013 or that are planned for 2014?
Virnig: In 2013, we completed the SAP BW-EML benchmark and the SAP on IBM i white paper. We continue to create new and updated marketing materials and white papers as appropriate.
IT Jungle: Lately I've been writing a lot on the importance of IBM i shops modernizing their applications and their databases. I believe this is an important message, but I am unaware of what IBM is doing to take this message to the IBM i customer base. Is there anything you can discuss in regard to this type of marketing?
Virnig: Application and database modernization have been key themes for the platform for many years, with many development tool ISVs focused specifically on working with IBM i clients in this area. IBM continues to provide a variety of tools and technical advancements to assist clients to extend their applications to modern environments. With the announcement of Free Format RPG IV in the IBM i 7.1 TR7 announcement, IBM Rational announced, in conjunction with ARCAD Software, a conversion tool to move to this new format. Over the last number of Technology Refresh Announcements, IBM continues to provide additional technologies to support the enablement of mobile devices. IBM will be publishing a new Application Modernization Redbook with many industry experts including Susan Gantner, Mike Pavlak, Brian May, Pascal Polverini, Jon Paris, Michel Mouchon, Trevor Perry, Paul Tuohy, and many others.
Many new investments across the board for Power are designed to help with modernization and we tell these stories in direct customer marketing communications, through social, digital and web channels, and in sales enablement material.
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