Smarter Clouds, Mobile Devices, and Infrastructure: IBM Drives Up Business Agility

Change and adapt

Service Management in Action

In today's fast-paced business markets, agility is king. It's increasingly clear that organizations that respond rapidly and effectively to change—by aligning their services better with customer interests, as well as delivering innovative new services—tend to outperform those that don't.

At Pulse 2013 (Youtube, 01:34:37), Deepak Advani, General Manager, Cloud & Smarter Infrastructure, pointed out a number of interesting facts:

That's why, going forward, IBM's focus is increasingly in areas that can enhance business agility. And that focus manifests both in terms of how the company is shaping and integrating its offerings to the world, and in how those offerings are helping IBM clients and customers enjoy a better outcome as a result.

Specifically, cloud computing, mobile devices, and smarter infrastructures can all play a part in helping to make organizations more aware of and responsive to customer needs and interests, while also improving their control over operational costs and empowering them to direct more resources toward strategic innovation.

Smarter clouds

A billion people are expected to have smart phones by 2016 across both mature and emerging markets—almost one in every six human beings on the planet—and mobile devices as a whole are expected to account for roughly 40% of access to company services.

Cloud architectures are already well understood—in theory at least—as optimized platforms of service delivery.

But at IBM, the question is: "How can we ensure that clouds live up to that theory, and create as much value as possible for our clients and customers?"

Danny Sabbah—IBM's CTO and General Manager of Next Generation Platform—provided key answers to that question in his keynote address at Pulse.

Sabbah said that, to begin with, it was essential to build clouds on open standards because this would free customers to choose the cloud vendors and solutions best suited to their needs, as well as make different choices in the future if those needs should change. This is exactly why IBM has increased its investment in such open standards: Open Services Lifecycle Collaboration, Oasis, OpenStack, and OpenCORE, among other instances. The layered, open architecture that becomes possible through such standards is extremely well suited to maximizing customer freedom and choice, while also delivering improved performance and robustness via proven technologies.

Given that kind of open foundation, it then becomes possible to optimize service delivery further by adding key capabilities and benefits such as:

Smarter mobile device management

Just as clouds have taken IT infrastructures by storm in recent years, so too has there been a revolution in how business services are typically accessed. To wit: smart mobile devices, often deployed in an ad hoc Bring Your Own Device fashion, are more and more popular. Organizations that fail to respond well to this unstoppable trend will ultimately experience reduced worker productivity and convenience, as well an overall decline in the security of core business services and data.

Sabbah noted that a billion people are expected to have smart phones by 2016 across both mature and emerging markets—almost one in every six human beings on the planet—and mobile devices as a whole are expected to account for roughly 40% of access to company services. This situation demands a new approach from many organizations; whether they are ready for it or not, mobile technology is the future and it should ideally be a strength, not a weakness.

And Advani observed that IBM can help them ensure it's a strength. Indeed, this is already the case for many organizations around the world.

Consider the case of Li & Fung, an exporter/distributor with a presence in 40 countries worldwide and some 30,000 smart mobile devices to manage. By deploying IBM Endpoint Manager for Mobile Devices, this organization was able to achieve radical improvements in the way mobile devices are managed, improving matters for both the end users and for the organization itself. How much? Li & Fung was able to increase its endpoint coverage (management capabilities) from 50% to 100% and get nearly real-time reporting for all of those mobile devices. At the same time, the number of management servers needed to achieve that fell from 79 down to three—an incredible 96% reduction—and the number of IT team members needed to serve as endpoint managers fell from six to one. That's a superior outcome in every possible sense.

Advani also noted that going forward, IBM will increasingly be investing in design as a core principle of development. That means not just attractive interfaces for solutions, but more generally, better ease of use, more flexibility, and more consistency in service access across different platforms. That in turn will mean a faster and more effective response by IBM customers in understanding and adapting to dynamic business requirements.

Smarter assets/infrastructures

A third opportunity for organizations today to experience impressive benefits lies in infrastructures/facilities management. Here, too, enhanced visibility, control, and automation can deliver better insight into what is happening, the power to make adjustments as necessary, and in many cases, to make those adjustments automatically, consistently, and cost-effectively, based on policies.

Consider the opportunities implied by integrating facilities and IT in data centers. Typically these are managed as separate domains, using separate solutions. When they're integrated, however, the benefits are usually not just significant, but multiplied—they manifest in many different respects. If HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) units are integrated with IT systems management, for example, cooling can occur as a direct consequence of the needs of the IT environment. Thus, not only will overall power costs fall (an important point, since power costs are the fastest-growing of all data center costs) but system and service availability will climb.

The opportunities implied by smart infrastructures/asset management goes far beyond building management as well. Advani noted the case of Taiwan High Speed Rail, a transportation organization that has deployed IBM-driven asset management capabilities to track how well its trains are performing at a granular level, in near real-time.

Via sensors that aggregate and report asset status and configuration data, this organization can now perform smart analytics that help it keep trains in optimal operating condition. This means train reliability has significantly increased; it also means trains are now far more punctual, with some 99.15% of trains arriving at a given destination within a six-second window of the expected timeframe. And because overall reliability and asset life have all climbed, the experience for customers is better as measured by the most important metric of all: human safety.

Why not enjoy the benefits IBM itself is getting?

As you might imagine, IBM itself is making extensive use of all of these capabilities. Specifically:

As you can see, IBM—a global organization with a user base exceeding 400,000—is proof of its own strengths in visibility, control, and automation, because it is the direct beneficiary of those strengths every day.

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