Head Power Sales Honcho Fires Up The IBM i Base
May 4, 2015 Alex Woodie
IBM i professionals are an unusually passionate and loyal group of customers, but you don’t typically hear much emotion from the IBM executives in charge of steering the ship. So when IBM’s top Power Systems salesman took the podium at last week’s COMMON conference and fired up the base with a rousing keynote address, it was a rare treat.
After taking care of business and handing out the awards in a fairly full conference room at the Disneyland Hotel last Sunday, COMMON president Pete Massiello turned the microphone over to Alex Gogh, the vice president of global sales for IBM server solutions. While Gogh has attended a few COMMONs over the years and presented at last year’s annual show in Orlando, Florida, this was the first time that the New Yorker addressed the audience under the main tent. By all accounts, he did quite well.
“We have an opportunity in Power i that we’ve never had,” Gogh said. “I’ve been around Power i for all of my 32 years in IBM. . . This is our moment in Power i and this is our opportunity and here’s why.”
So what, exactly, is that opportunity? The way Gogh sees it, the investments that IBM i customers (or “Power i” customers, as he called them) have made in their core applications and systems makes them well-positioned to take their businesses to the next level, and to start benefiting from the explosion of new capabilities that can be found in the world of (brace yourself) cloud, mobile, social, and analytics.
“This is our opportunity to build off the core, build off what you’ve invested in, and take it to the next level of integration,” Gogh says. “And that’s what we’re really talking about within the Power i community.”
Gogh used Sabel Steel Services as an example of “taking it to the next level.” The Alabama-based company won a COMMON Innovation Award at the annual user conference for a Power i-based application it developed for its scrap metal recycling business. The iPad app it developed uses Bluetooth-connected scales to send data to the company’s core RPG-based application, to speed up the course of business for the recycler.
The app is a perfect example of how a Power i shop can innovate, Gogh says. “There isn’t a single business model in this room that can’t be challenged in this regard,” he says. “None of you are preparedâ€¦to throw away your core. Instead what we need to do is build out from the core.”
When it comes to building off the core, Gogh encourages Power i customers to explore incorporating external data sources into their analytics environments for competitive advantage. While there’s a lot of hype in the big data space, there’s also opportunity there, Gogh says, and Power i customers should be looking to see what they can do.
Take what IBM is doing with Watson in the healthcare industry as an example. The Watson software uses text analytics and machine learning algorithms to help doctors make diagnoses quicker and more accurately than they could otherwise do. In the future, healthcare analytics powered by Watson (or Watson-like apps) will not only look at the structured medical record. That represents just 30 percent of data that’s available, Gogh says. The apps will also consider all the unstructured sources of medical data flowing from Fitbits and Apple Watches, which will represent 70 percent of the data, Gogh says.
Big data should factor into Power i shop’s plans, Gogh says, because the Power8 chip was designed for big data. “Power lends itself the ability to do big data interpretation in nanoseconds,” he says. “It was built exactly to handle big data, not just sitting in your DB2 database, but sitting in your MongoDB database or Maria database or a Hadoop external environment.”
The world of Hadoop and NoSQL databases is probably foreign to most Power i shops. But the way Gogh sees it, Power i shops will benefit by having these and other open source products available to run on Power. Since IBM launched the OpenPower Foundation a year and a half ago, more than 100 vendors have joined the group. While there are no Power i solutions in the OpenPower Foundation (at least not yet), the group benefits Power i shops in other ways, Gogh says.
“What is the IBM i strategy? It’s about choice that’s grounded in open technology, open source capabilities,” he says. “We have 2,200 solutions that are formally registered and thousands more in what you would know as RPG, COBOL, DB2 types of applications, those native solutions.”
On top of that native base, there are about 1,400 applications formally registered to run on the Power Linux environment, Gogh says. “That is some phenomenal portfolio of solutions and capabilities,” he says. “Never, never believe that we are out of Power i. When you start doing permutations of 2,200 times 1,400 times some number of open source [solutions]–that’s a lot.”
The future of Power i is made stronger by Linux on Power, Gogh says. “As I look back at my years with Power i, the integration points have always been there and we continue to strengthen the integration of Linux with Power i to afford you not only scale-out capacity but application integration capabilities and underlying that with the security that you appreciated and enjoyed throughout to provide you with high value innovation,” he says.
Power i’s future has never been better, Gogh says. “We have never lost our way with Power i based on one thing that we committed to you, that my predecessors committed to you here at COMMON,” he told the crowd. “Have you noticed that people have stopped asking you, ‘Is IBM committed to Power?’ If they haven’t please see us. After spending $2.5 billion on Power8 and a comparable amount will go into Power9, we are so committed to this platform, I think we’re more committed than we ever have been before.”