OK, so IBM isn’t actually asserting the world is flat, but it did hold its second ‘Edge’ event earlier this month (as I’ve said before, I like writing about these big industry events after the Kool Aid has had a chance to leave my system!). Edge started life as very much a storage event last year with somewhere around 2000 attendees, but this year had grown in both coverage (still with storage – rightly! - at the center of things) and also attendance, with close to 5000 end-users on hand at one end of the Vegas strip while HP’s Discover was a few stop-lights away at the other end.
The Edge event was very much focused on users and practical implementations, so much of the material (or at least the context and content) was familiar to those of us that get pre-briefed and kept up to date. Of course, there were still plenty of specific announcements, but it’s the big themes that interest me. So let’s get to it. After the [what is becoming requisite] loud start – in this case a rock group (don’t touch that dial: yes, this is IBM with its corporate tie loosened) – there were the [also requisite] mentions of a focus on data, the arrival of software-defined environments and the need for ‘smarter computing’ in general. But, the first specific technology to get a mention was…..flash. Yup, the world of IT and storage is ultimately all about economics, and since (as IBM – rightly IMHO - put forth in its Flash Ahead initiative this last April) flash is all about economics then ergo the world is all about flash! Or as Ambuj Goyal, the disarming and knowledgeable leader of IBM’s storage division, jokingly put it “The answer is flash…now, what’s the question?”! And flash did indeed get a lot of attention – one of the on-stage clients called it “the answer to the poorly written software we’ve had for ages.” While this won’t win that particular gentleman many friends in his software team it did strike a chord with some interesting research IBM showed; quoting from its regular CEO Study, IBM showed a chart that asked CEOs to rank the most strategic factors/components impacting organizations – this covered such things as people skills, macro-economics, market factors and so on. Back in 2004 “Technology Factors” was number 6, but it has climbed steadily over recent years to be #1 in 2012. I hear a sigh of relief from the software team, since I’m sure they count in this respect!? However the takeaway is that technology is absolutely crucial.