Final Thoughts – IBM Edge 2013 Top 5 Observations

IBM’s second annual installment of the Edge conference was a huge success, and a great improvement over the inaugural year. Here are my top five observations from the week.

1. There are a confluence of cultural changes driving big data and breakneck I/O rates.

  • In my post on Edge 2013 Day 1 I recalled a story by IBMs Stephen Leonard about the data trails we are all creating, wider by the day and as unique to an individual as fingerprints and DNA. He noted that these data trails are also being created by manmade things like roads, railways, cities, and supply chains as well as nature made things like rivers, wind, and cattle.
  • On Tuesday, IBMs Tom Rosamilia used a New York Times article titled How Companies Learn Your Secrets to describe how big data is being used to target marketing to a demographic of one. His observation was that we are developing an expectation that we’ll be reached out to individually and that this is feeding marketers desire to analyze more and more data.
  • IBMs Clod Barrera made an obvious point that I just hadn’t thought about before. We are instrumenting everything – Stephen’ data trails from above. And we are processing that big data with analytics – Tom’s observation. Clod noted that as machines begin collecting data and passing it to other machines for analysis, the rate of input and output (I/O) operations is increasing at a skyrocketing pace.

Storage and Data Economics

 

2. Storage decisions are about economics

IBMs Ambuj Goyal first made the point and it was carried throughout the conference. The client conversations IBM is having seem to always be some combination of four themes that hit on the economics of IT, of the business being up and running, and of riskKeep me on the technical innovation curve… cost effectively

 

  • Get me up and running… fast
  • Keep me up and running… securely
  • Help me mitigate risk… economically

 

As I noted in my coverage of Edge 2013 Day 2, Intel’s Kim Stevenson summed it up best when she said “Organizations don’t buy technology, they buy benefits.”

3.  Software defined storage (SDS) is about improving storage economics

 

  • IBMs Jamie Thomas, in talking about software defined environments (SDE) commented on how much of what is being done in creating patterns for workloads and virtualized infrastructure is about improving labor effectiveness and costs.
  • Back in April I posted on a round table discussion I participated in at StorageNetworking World - SNW Spring 2013 recap - on the topic of storage hypervisors, what the industry is now more commonly referring to as software defined storage. Toward the end of that post I commented on the coming commoditization of physical disk capacity. This week at Edge, IBMs Ambuj Goyal said he would be happy for SDS to help commoditize storage hardware, IBM’s and everybody else’s. It’s about economics.
  • In my post on Edge 2013 Day 4 I described IBMs relatively recent acquisition of Butterfly Software. The motivation for the acquisition was all about effective communication of storage economics to a happily listening potential client base.

 

4. Flash is about improving the economics of I/O’s

 

  • IBMs Ed Walsh described an interesting set of downstream effects from flash storage. Compared to spinning disk, flash uses less power, cooling, and floor space.  That seems fairly well understood. But have you thought about the following:

-When I/O response time is faster, CPU’s spend less time waiting.

-When there is less CPU downtime waiting for I/O’s, you need fewer cores.

-When you have fewer cores, the environmental impact of your processor farm is reduced.

-When you have fewer cores, you pay less in software licenses.

Setting all of Ed’s downstream effects aside, Clod Barrera predicted that by the end of 2013, the cost per usable gigabyte in a flash system will be better than a high end 15k RPM spinning disk.

  • Several IBM speakers and customer testimonials focused on the economically powerful use cases for combining SDS + flash. This one didn’t surprise me, but it was confirming of comments I made on Flash storage ‘everywhere’ back in April.

5.  Tivoli Storage Manager and the announcement of its Operations Center are about improving backup administration economics.  In my coverage of Edge 2013 Day 4 in the section on Butterfly AERs, I noted that analysis of some 850 different infrastructures scattered across every industry in most parts of the world and comprising over 2 exabytes of data showed that, when compared to as-is competitive backup environments, transforming to IBM Tivoli Storage Manager approach is, on average, 38% more efficient. It’s about economics!

(Bonus) Cloud is about improving the economics of consumption. In my coverage of Edge 2013 Day 3 and the Managed Service provider (MSP) Summit I shared an example of how traditional value-added resellers are transforming as their small and medium business customers begin to consume technology as cloud services. This is much more than a technology fad. Like the other examples discussed above, the shift to cloud is about economics.

That’s my top 5 and a bonus. What did you find most interesting at IBM Edge 2013? Leave a comment.

I’ll see you next year at Edge 2014!

 

 

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