Home Live Blog: IBM Impact, Application Servers and the 100 Year Transformation

Live Blog: IBM Impact, Application Servers and the 100 Year Transformation

IBM is announcing its biggest release for WebSphere in the past four years. It is also naming the application server one of its top technologies for its centennial celebration.

We’re here at IBM Impact to live blog the news about the transformation in application server technology and how the company fits into a space with a variety of competitive challenges.

8:20 a.m.: A Spanish guitarist is performing with string players and two drummers, one on a moveable stage. Apparently. they were playing iPads. Yes – this is a show. I agree with Ray Wang, though. IBM has the best branding of any software company. Looks good.

8:27 a.m.: As we see with a lot of shows, we have Larry Miller a comedian, starting the event.

8:35 a.m.: We’re now getting started. Nancy Pearson is on stage. She is thanking the Japanese group that has made it here for the event. IBM Impact has more than 8,000 people here. Twitter hash tag is #ibmimpact. We’re getting the summary of what to expect from the event and thanks to the sponsors, led by Akami.

8:46 a.m.: Vice President of Marketing Jon Iwata talking through the history of IBM Going back to 1964 and the announcement of the mainframe. The news cannibalized the entire product line. It set off a civil war inside the company. The mainframe cost $34 billion in today’s terms.

8:50 a.m.: Today, computing is going into things we never thought would have the capability to have data. Associated with it are systems that create entire new smart environments. Iwata is very good. Jacqi Levy tweeted: “I love John Iwata’s speaking style. So refreshing to see someone who doesn’t rely on a slide deck to communicate! #ibmimpact”

8:58 a.m.: Discussing how police in Madrid and fishermen in Italy use smart systems to better communicate. For example, how fishermen in southern Italy can see dynamic results for market prices while out in the boat.

Iwata sought to sum up the 100 year history of IBM as marked by a continual learning process. But it’s also the continual automation of systems from punch cards to smart roads and bridges.

9:01 a.m. Moving on to the next group. We’re hearing from Jeffery Burns of Children’s Hospital Boston. He is talking about how data is in a bottleneck. He is recounting a story how he needed a way to communicate with a heart surgeon in Guatemala City who was caring for a sick, little girl. The girl’s life was saved because they could communicate through the Internet. But we are stuck. The connections are difficult to make and we are caught in paradigms for how we communicate. Medical knowledge is transferred in small meetings and academic environments. Simulation is a current approach to break the knowledge jam. But it is still passive learning. But video games show us how we can learn in a new ways. We can learn according to our level of knowledge. Two years ago, Burns was watching the Masters. He saw a simulation in a video game that allowed him to use an avatar to play Amen Corner, the 12th, 13th and 14th holes at Augusta National. He called IBM in to the Boston office to see how they could use the game and simulation technology for learning and teaching in public health.

They have since launched a database model that provides information on demand for how to care for a critically ill child. These different modules are adopted dynamically and the collaboration is made part of the environment.

9:27 a.m.: Moving on from healthcare, the theme continues about the need for learning to deal with change and complexity. IBM executive is talking about business agility to make change happen. Transformation has to happen at a faster and faster pace. Seventy percent of transformations fail. There is no silver bullet but executive support is key. With executive leadership in place, the technology can be implemented.

9:32 a.m.: Looking at the history of application servers and SOA, which is interesting, considering how fast the adoption is for RESTful Web services. But this is IBM and there are a lot of customers who depend on IBM application server technology and the associated products which has SOA at its core.

9:38 a.m.: A lot of talk about business process management (BPM) and how it can connect legacy systems. Now we’re watching a video from Caterpillar and its machines moving dirt. Theme seems to be about the technology in these industrial machines.

9:42 a.m.: Caterpillar CIO John Heller says it’s goal is to help put earth in the right place.Caterpillar is 85-years-old. Executive is talking about how it has had to invest in global workforce to align with business goals around the world and the growth in fast accelerating markets such as Asia. IBM and Caterpillar have an 83-year-old partnership.

9:53 a.m. Running out of power. Back in a bit.

10:04 a.m. We’ll see a lot of discussion here about SOA here at IBM Impact. And we’ll hear about the WebSphere application server and what appears to be a mobile feature pack. IBM is focusing on standards in the cloud with its Cloud Standards Customer Council.

We’re finishing up the general session and you can pick up on a few themes:

  • Process optimization
  • Connected networks
  • Transforming systems

Those are just a few. We’ll be back throughout the day, live blogging the news, talking to people and doing what we do.

11:04 a.m.: Here at the press conference. Making announcements for 60 new products. Focus is on business process management and SOA.

11:08 a.m. New WebSphere application server is complemented by IBM WebSphere Application Server; IBM WebSphere Virtual Enterprise; IBM WebSphere DataPower; Application Accelerator with Akami; IBM CICS Transaction Server for z/OS and Extended Deployment Compute Grid.

Most significant is the extension of the mobile application feature deck with support for Apple IOS and Android.

There are a number of cloud announcements. The IBM Workload Deployer brings infrastructure provisioning and what is required to deliver a Web application. And then decide what the styles are for deployment. It can be customized and deployed automatically. It is offered as an appliance.

11:20 a.m. Steve Mills leads the software group for IBM. He is on stage, talking about the history of WebSphere and the theme over the years around business process management. He describes it as a choreography and ties it into SOA and its buzz. This is where I start to wonder. Such an emphasis on SOA seems a bit old school. Now he is talking about cloud. It is not just about compute but using services to do process oriented tasks such as business process management. He emphasizes that you need a robust system. Stepping back, you see this long history of ways IT can help a business operate with applications that flow from the Internet and the enterprise.

11:27 a.m.: How does Caterpillar’s CIO see social media? It is built into processes throughout the enterprise, he said. Social media is a big part of this conference. They have a social media lounge, which is far more open and spacious than the press room. There are numerous places to check in on Foursquare. IBM says the technology is increasingly built into the products, too.

11:37 a.m.: What is the road map for rolling out WebSphere and other services in Europe? IBM says products are being announced globally.

11:42 a.m. IBM is putting REST APIs on everything. It can complement SOA. It’s about REST and SOA, not one or the other.

11:46 a.m. Lots of questions about the stumbling that is being witnessed with integrating complex systems. Mils says they are emphasizing narrow scope and iterative methods.

11:54 a.m. Off for a while. Back later.

1:06 p.m.: We’re back with Robert LeBlanc. He is talking about the competition, especially Oracle and its acquisition of ATG. Extended enterprise integration and spreading the portfolio – how does it fit with the cloud? LeBlanc says it comes down to standardization and automation You want to do it in a way that does not add complexity. That’s where automation comes into play. You need to have the process automated for application loads. LeBlanc says this comes back to the hype about the public cloud and private cloud. The hype is around public cloud but the real work is in the private cloud. LeBlanc believes the future is in hybrid cloud environments. Therefore processe need to be decomposed to determine where resources should be allocated. For example, analytics for internal data may be on-premise as opposed to the public cloud. The technology at the end of the day is similar.

1:23 p.m.: What do you mean by the weak link? if I am a service provider and I don’t have the same level of security, then you have a weak link. Its not a single business process, it’s end to end. LeBlanc says he knows what he knows. It’s what you have. In some cases, you may want to go to an outside services provider. Moving on to talking about standards. He said they felt there was a need for a standards body that can represent the customers. Why not integrate with OpenStack? This is really broad, he says. This is about the broad array of standards in the market. This is about automating virtual machines, for instance, in terms of interoperability.

1:33 p.m. If all you are doing is connecting to database, it is good enough. Anything that is transactional in nature requires SOA. There are use cases for both. We have to be careful of not painting things in black and white.

4:09 p.m. In an interview with IBM’s Marie Wieck. I asked about the relationship between REST and SOA. One of the things we showed were the REST interfaces for the mobile interface in the mobile feature pack. The very credible Mike Vizard is in the interview with me. He is asking about what is free and what is not free in version 8 of WebSphere. Will software become like hardware? Good question by Mike.

4:18 p.m.: IBM sees a broad trend for heterogeneous systems. But is IBM seeing less interest in platforms. Dialogue is shifting, which is reason for IBM Cloud Workload Deployer. Most common workload is a Web workload. Development and test and Web apps are in most demand. She says that most of the investment is on the private side versus the public side.

Disclosure: IBM covered the author’s expenses to attend this event.

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