Get Thee To The i Cloud, IBM's Kugler Says
Published: November 14, 2011
by Alex Woodie
IBM i shops should take a long, hard look at cloud computing and see if it makes sense for them, IBM's director of business development for the IBM i business, Ari Kugler, said in a webinar last week. During his presentation with IBM i cloud service provider Symmetry, Kugler said that the security and scalability of the IBM i platform, coupled with the price/performance of the Power7 servers, has opened new opportunities for cloud computing. "The time for cloud is now," he said.
Since he joined the IBM Rochester team last year, Kugler has become one of the more outspoken supporters of the IBM i platform, and proselytizing about the opportunities that the burgeoning cloud business model presents to the IBM i platform is clearly one of his goals as the business development director. To that end, he gave a half-hour keynote over the Web last Thursday on the topic of IBM i in the cloud.
The drive to the cloud is being influenced by a confluence of business and technological factors, Kugler said. On the one hand, companies today want to increase their revenues and get a better understanding of their customers. In many cases that means they will need to upgrade their IT systems to make use of the latest collaboration and analytic capabilities.
The big challenge to the IT department, then, is accomplishing these tasks and generating the improvements, with an IT budget that is flat or growing very slowly. "IT specialists are the tip of the arrow," Kugler says. "Businesses are looking to IT to help them predict the future. . . . And at same time, they have to do it with tight budgets and a deep-seated resistance to rapidly invest."
One of the most promising solutions to this dilemma is to outsource everything IT related that's not core to the business--that is, to upload those functions to the cloud--and concentrate a company's money and IT skill on areas that can have a big impact on growing revenue and getting closer to customers. Companies can save a good deal of money and become more agile by moving some application workloads to the cloud, he says.
"More and more folks are saying, this is the way to go," Kugler says. "It's not only the economies of scale and the time benefit. It's the fact that it makes sense for me to use my internal resources and focus on core strengths and core expertise, and let other folks--outsourcing if you will--take care of those areas where I don't need to focus."
Outsourcing non-core functions is nothing new, of course, and is not dependent on new cloud technologies or business models. What has changed is the economics of the equation, and that has enabled small and midsize businesses to take advantage of cloud-based outsourcing, Kugler says. "Cloud capabilities that used to be in the old days popular on the mainframe have suddenly become cost effective and attractive and opportune for pretty much every company out there," he says.
In the Power Systems and IBM i world, this economic advantage was kicked into high gear last year when IBM launched the Power7 servers. "The performance of a large Power 770 is incredible," he says. "The price performance is incredible. It's a tremendously fast and responsive box. Between partition mobility and other flexibility, a well-architected cloud could be tremendously efficient. And the reality of that efficiency is that it helps to provide that to you--the end users--because of those economies of scale."
There are only a handful of companies like Symmetry that sell access to a public cloud infrastructure running on IBM i. "There's a lot of Windows folks out there running Windows clouds. There's very small group of companies like Symmetry that not only have the infrastructure but have the [IBM i] skills and expertise," Kugler says. (The rest of the list is small enough to list right here: Datanational, First National Technology Solutions, Logicalis, Mainline Information Systems, mindSHIFT Technologies, and NSPI.)
Kugler encourages IBM i shops to do the math, compare the cost of running and managing a Power Systems infrastructure themselves versus renting capacity from a cloud provider, and see how much they can save. Companies that do a side-by-side comparison will find that the cloud option has become "extremely attractive," he says, and that's not even counting the benefit of having more time to spend on new projects.
"For those who are thinking about it, take the time, do the research, do the price comparison, and I think that you'll find this year, 2012, is probably one of the best years ever to start considering that move," he says. "For those on it, you should be thinking about moving more workloads to the cloud."
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IBM's Power-Based SmartClouds on the Horizon
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