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IBM cloud announcement disappoints...again

In conjunction with its Pulse conference, Big Blue announces several products and services targeted at dynamic infrastructure and cloud computing. Too bad it's just more of the same.

Update: This post covers the Tivoli specific announcements that Gordon Haff covered in the post referred below. IBM made significant, additional announcements after this post was written, which I cover in a separate post.

I looked forward with great anticipation to Gordon Haff's post on Monday covering the Tivoli announcements at IBM's Pulse conference.

Specifically, I was especially interested in what Tivoli was going to offer to support dynamic infrastructure, in part because IBM's cloud DNA holds so much promise, and I have yet to see any magic from them.

As would be expected from Pulse, the bulk of the announcements are geared toward service management. From Gordon's post:

  • IBM service management software and services from IBM Global Business Services, IBM Global Technology Services, and specialized IBM Business Partner capabilities. Together, they enable organizations to design and implement IT systems that centrally manage and monitor an entire industry infrastructure, enabling greater performance of both traditional assets, such as manufacturing robotic equipment, as well as emerging technologies like "smart meters" and RFID (radio frequency identification).
  • A new governance-consulting practice. Through the practice, IBM works with clients to design governance systems to help mitigate risks related to business changes, changing market conditions, and regulatory requirements.
  • New Tivoli Service Automation Manager software, which automates the design, deployment, and management of services such as middleware, applications, hardware, and networks, tasks that today are largely done manually and thus are subject to error, time constraints, and other human limitations.
  • New Tivoli Key Lifecycle Manager software, which helps organizations simplify the life cycle of encryption keys by enabling them to centralize, automate, and strengthen security through key management processes, with an increasing number of IT infrastructure elements having built in encryption to protect them.


There definitely isn't any cloud "sizzle" in that list of bullets. Gordon himself points out the yawn factor of these announcements to anyone not already in bed with IBM:

(IBM's Erich) Clementi and (Chris) O'Connor presented what my colleague Jonathan Eunice described as a "very heavyweight, enterprisey view of cloud." Put another way, my take was that this was really about how IBM will help the enterprise implement a version 2.0 of SOA (service-oriented architecture): lots of IBM Global Services (IGS) and lots of Tivoli management goodness.

When I ran West Coast sales engineering for Cassatt for a couple of years,* IBM was probably the closest competitor in terms of technology. Tivoli had Intelligent Orchestrator and a bunch of other management tools that could be stitched together and scripted to give Cassatt a run for its money.

But that was the problem. It all had to be stitched together, and that required either partner services (which were somehow never highlighted in the marketing materials) or IBM Global Services. Any implementation was prohibitively expensive when you added up licensing, training, and professional services costs. If you wanted Tivoli, you felt like you had to hire all of IBM. IBM-as-a-Service.

Rather than working to increase usability and self-manageability of the tools in the new world of self-service clouds, IBM seems to be digging in and reinforcing IBM-as-a-Service and the service-oriented (as in "requires professional services") nature of its software products. I'm not sure IBM is capable of surprising us with beautiful, simple data-center system software anymore.

I could still be surprised in the coming year, I guess, but right now IBM has failed to capture my imagination when it comes to actual cloud computing products and services. All of which saddens me, because I was truly hoping for more.

* OK, so I was the only West Coast sales engineer at the time...I ran myself with inspiration and mentorship that will forever inspire me!

The opinions expressed on The Wisdom of Clouds are my own, and not that of my employer, Cisco Systems, Inc.