Thursday, June 18, 2009

IBM investing $100 million advancing mobile services


IBM just announced plans to shift $100 million investment over the next five years into a major Research effort which aims to advance mobile services and capabilities for businesses and consumers worldwide.

"Mobility and the associated analytics will change virtually every enterprise business process," said Paul Bloom, chief technologist, IBM Telecom Research. "It will change the relationship between enterprises and their customers, their employees and their partners, enabling them to do business in more intelligent, efficient ways."

When I created this blog, I saw little attention being focused on the area where smart phones and business apps intersect. Once again, in our field, change can be rapid. In the future, I intend to concentrate this blog on analysis and interpretation, rather than breaking news. Journalists from the trade press have more timely, complete and accurate information and better access to company executives than I have.

The NY Times broke this story about mobile services this morning, but if you are interested in more details, I’d suggest you read today’s press release directly from IBM.

With its “cloud” announcement tuesday, and its “mobile” announcement today, IBM has once again revised the rules of the industry without consulting the other players. Competitive advantage: IBM. Exciting times lie ahead.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

IBM’s “Cloud for Business”

IBM today introduced the industry’s first set of commercial “cloud” services and integrated products for the enterprise, claiming “this will give clients a reliable way to standardize IT functions that are rapidly becoming too costly or difficult to use.”

IBM endorses the prospect of a billion connected people and a trillion connected devices. This estimate originates with IDC, predicting that by 2011, there will be one trillion Internet-connected devices, up from 500 million in 2006.

An early analysis of the announcement, “I.B.M. to Help Clients Fight Cost and Complexity,” appeared in the NY Times yesterday.

This announcement is complex, we’ll all need time to evaluate it, so I’ll just include a few selections from the IBM Press Release, which you can find right here in its entirety, and which contains links to additional material:

Based on nearly two years of research and hundreds of client engagements, the IBM Smart Business cloud portfolio is meant to help clients turn complex business processes into simple services. To accomplish this, Smart Business brings sophisticated automation technology and self-service to specific digital tasks as diverse as software development and testing; desktop and device management; and collaboration.

From utility grids to roadways, water systems and financial instruments, the world’s physical infrastructure is rapidly becoming more instrumented and IT-enabled, and corporate data centers will have to deal with a new flood of transactions and data coming from a billion connected people and a trillion connected devices. These offerings are aimed at helping clients deal with entirely new kinds of tasks and the colossal data burdens facing the data center.

“Cloud is an important new consumption and delivery model for IT and business services. Large enterprises want our help to capitalize on what this model offers in a way that is safe, reliable and efficient for business,” said Erich Clementi, General Manager, Enterprise Initiatives, IBM. “Today’s Smart Business announcement demonstrates that we take this responsibility seriously with cloud investment and solutions targeting the early opportunity. We are responding today as we did assisting enterprises with the shift to e-business and in the embrace of open source and Linux.”

The IBM Smart Business portfolio includes three “on-ramps,” or ways to quickly deploy the cloud model:
· IBM Smart Business standardized services on the IBM Cloud;
· Smart Business private cloud services behind the firewall built by IBM (run by IBM or the client);
· and IBM CloudBurst workload optimized systems, for clients who want to build to their own cloud with pre-integrated hardware and software.

All three offerings include IBM’s service management system – a kind of air traffic control system for IT – that automates self-service, provisioning, monitoring as well as managing access and security for the cloud. This reflects IBM’s leadership and more than $10 billion in investments over the last five years in control and automation technologies, which become critical as the digital and physical infrastructure converge.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Let us now praise iPhone users

Forrester Research says iPhone users are richer, younger, and perhaps even more productive at work than those who use competing smart phones. Few of you will believe that I am richer, younger, and more productive than Dan Bricklin, who uses a G1; although he also has an iPod touch so he can experiment with the interface.

Neil Hughes reports on the study in his blog on Apple Insider:

iPhone users are younger: 30 percent of iPhone users in 2008 were of Generation Y, a larger portion than the rest of the smart phone market,

iPhone users are more educated and affluent: 49 percent of iPhone users have a college education, and 67 percent earn more than $70,000 a year,

iPhone customers spend more on their service: the average monthly phone bill for an iPhone user was $87, compared to $76 for the smart phone market, and $66 for traditional mobile phone users,

Employers are slightly less likely to subsidize an iPhone: 24 percent of respondents with an iPhone said they are compensated by their employer for their phone bill, while 28 percent of smart phone users have their employee pay all or part of it.

Comparing customer Internet usage, the study shows that the iPhone blows away its competitors: 78 percent of iPhone users reported they access the Internet at least weekly on their phone, while only 38 percent of the rest of the smart phone market were on the mobile Web that often.

The study was performed last year, since which I have become neither younger nor more affluent. Disregarding Generation Y, Dan is a Baby Boomer, and I modestly describe myself as a member of the Greatest Generation.

I continue to recommend Dan's book: "Bricklin on Technology." One of his chapters: “What Will People Pay For?” has been reprinted in the Harvard Business Review. You can read an excerpt here.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Itanium Awards: I'll be a Judge

The Itanium Solutions Alliance has just announced my selection as a judge for its third-annual Innovation Awards competition. “We are very pleased to have secured such a strong caliber of judges for this year's Innovation Awards," said Joan Jacobs, president and executive director of the Itanium Solutions Alliance. "The fact that this year's entries will be carefully evaluated and the winners selected by this distinguished panel of industry leaders adds another dimension of credibility to this prestigious awards competition."

The Itanium Solutions Alliance Innovation Awards were designed to recognize and reward end users and developers for outstanding use of Intel(R) Itanium-based servers in their applications. Individuals or organizations with Itanium-based solutions may enter, at no cost, in one of four categories: Mission-Critical Data, Data Center Modernization, Computationally Intensive Applications, and Humanitarian Impact. Winners will be honored at a special event during the Intel Developer Forum, September 23rd, 2009 at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the winning submission in the Humanitarian Impact category will receive a $50,000 cash award.

The Itanium Solutions Alliance Innovation Awards judges for 2009 are:
Joe B. Alexander, strategy and technology consultant; educator
Ken Cayton, president, Systematic Market Analysis
Jon Erickson, editor in chief, Dr. Dobb's
Sverre Jarp, chief technology officer, CERN openlab
Dr. Rinaldo Jose, president and co-founder, Lakeway Technologies
George McQuilken, co-founder, eCoast Angels Investment Network
Michelle (Mickey) Pierce, senior product manager, Mainframe Migration Alliance, Microsoft
Dr. Andrew Razeghi, lecturer, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University
Clay Ryder, president, The Sageza Group
Dr. Mark K. Smith, executive director, Universal Parallel Computing Research Center, and managing director, Gelato Federation
Michael Vizard, director of strategic content, Ziff-Davis Enterprise

About the Itanium Solutions Alliance
The Itanium(R) Solutions Alliance is a global community of hardware, operating system and application vendors dedicated to accelerating the adoption and ongoing development of Itanium(R)-based solutions. Formed in September 2005, the Alliance comprises some of the most influential companies in the computing industry with a shared, strategic commitment to delivering mission-critical computing solutions based on the Intel(R) Itanium(R) architecture.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

RIP: IBM Systems Journal (1962-2009)

This Spring, without Obituary Notice, Memorial Service, or 21-gun salute, IBM quietly interred the venerable IBM Systems Journal, thereby laying to rest one of the great artifacts of the company that built the modern computer industry and laid the foundations for our modern connected world. I served as Editor of the Journal from 1974 to 1977, the best job I had at IBM, so I’d like to say a few words.

Having seriously underestimated the market for computers in the 1950s, IBM entered the 1960s with a burning zeal to create a great company and a great industry. One barrier was education; it was becoming apparent that the optimal use of digital computers in the enormously varied situations in which they were to be applied would require significant knowledge of many areas and an over-all systems approach.

At the time, there were almost no systems science or computer science departments in universities. To fill this void, the IBM Systems Research Institute was established as a graduate-level academy for IBM employees. Shortly thereafter (1962) the IBM Systems Journal was founded as an adjunct to the institute to disseminate information about computing systems, programming, and applications. The great John McPherson, one of the true pioneers of our industry, served as the first Director of the institute and as the main advocate for the IBM Systems Journal (SJ).

As the industry grew, so did the number of overlapping professional journals, and by the early 1970’s IBM considered eliminating the SJ. When I became Editor in 1974, it was with the understanding that we were to continue refocusing the journal to what I came to call “advancing the current practice of computing,” while most journals chose to focus on theory.

The results were heartening. Circulation increased to 65,000 making the IBM SJ the most widely read technical journal in the computing industry. Despite our emphasis on practice, a study based on the Science Citation Index showed us to be the fourth most referenced journal. Other changes included efforts to put the journal closer to a paying basis by increasing the number of paid subscriptions and selling reprinted articles for use in classes and seminars.

But the real value of the journal was not its weight at the postage meter, but its effect on the computing industry.

A foundation element in modern software engineering is software inspections, consisting of a peer review of any work product by trained individuals who look for defects using a well defined process (see Wikipedia definition). The origin of this now-common practice was work done by Mike Fagin at the IBM laboratory in Endicott NY. Fagan had published a lab report describing inspections, which Associate Editor Al Davis found and presented to me. Despite a perceived lack of scientific rigor in the original report, Davis worked closely with Fagan to produce “Design and code inspections to reduce errors in program development, published in 1976. This paper is probably the most widely read and reprinted article ever published in any IBM journal.

Another effect on the industry was our role in promoting relational data bases. I tried very hard to interest Ted Codd, inventor of the relational model, to prepare a paper for us, but he preferred the professional society journals. We did, however, discover an IBM research project in San Jose named “System R” and we worked diligently with the research team to record these developments, publishing significant papers in 1977 and 1981. Larry Ellison read about System R in our journal and proceeded to develop the Oracle relational data base, thus transforming the IT industry and making himself (today) the fourth wealthiest man in the world.

So now, with the help of YouTube, it is time to organize our wake. I’ll play the Pogues’ “Body of an American.” You can join them singing “Danny Boy.” And perhaps we can all share A Wee Deoch-an-Doris for the IBM Systems Journal, for the many fine folks who contributed to it, and for Auld Lang Syne. (Warning –consuming this beverage would be cause for dismissal from the old IBM).

Footnote: for more detail, refer to ”A History of the IBM Systems Journal “ by George C. Stierhoff and Alfred G. Davis, IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, Vol. 20, No. 1, 1998.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Skyhook Locator System in NY Times today

A concise and informative article on Skyhook and its Locator System appears in the Business Section of Today’s NY Times. Whereas the Times does not make its site available to non subscribers, you can find some of the same information on my earlier blog post on Skyhook’s CEO, Ted Morgan.

I do find certain confusion in the industry about location sensing, its capabilities and how it works. On the iPhone, location sensing takes place as follows.

When the owner selects an application involving location, such as Tides, Latitude, Yelp, Loopt, Car finder, or Taxi Magic, the iPhone calculates whether it is likely to get the best and fastest information from its own GPS chip or from Skyhook’s system.

GPS searches for Satellites. Skyhook checks a list of nearby Wi-Fi access points and cell towers against its database and triangulates the device’s location within 30 to 60 feet. Skyhook claims its system, XPS, is superior whenever GPS signals are blocked by walls or trees, and that XPS responds much more quickly than GPS. The Skyhook data base now includes more than 100 million wireless networks and 700,000 cellular towers.

Skyhook’s XPS is now installed on 37 million Apple iPhones and iPod Touches worldwide, as well as a variety of other devices. The company says it handles 250 million location requests a day. Good show, Skyhook!