Robert's Blog

Monday, October 26, 2009

IBM IOD 2009 - Day 1

Greetings from Las Vegas. Day one of IBM's 2009 Information on Demand conference was a good one. In this post I'll share with you some of the more interesting items of information I picked up in today's sessions. I'll post at the end of days 2, 3, and 4, as well.

The Big Theme: "Information-Led Transformation" - Ambuj Goyal, General Manager for Business Analytics and Process Optimization in IBM's Software Group, kicked off the Grand Opening session with an overview of the Company's Information Management software strategy. He pointed out that IBM has spent $12 billion on its information-on-demand software stack over the past 4 years: $8 billion on acquisitions (such as Cognos and SPSS) and $4 billion on internal development and related activity. That's some serious money, and it reflects the confidence of IBM's executives that we are on the front end of a major change in the way that organizations manage and leverage their data assets. Ambuj professed that information-led transformation would be even bigger in scope and impact than the enterprise resource planning software wave that got started about 20 years ago.

Companies, said Ambuj, are transitioning from information-focused projects to the information-based enterprise - an operational model characterized by the use of rationalized and trusted data to make timely, effective, and predictive (versus reactive) decisions. Frank Kern, a Senior Vice President in IBM's Global Business Services division, joined Ambuj onstage and continued to underscore the importance of organizations developing a predictive decision-making capability. He described a new service line, Business Analytics and Optimization, that will be delivered by a 4000-strong team of consultants. He also talked about the irony of executives reporting a lack of information needed to make good decisions, even as their organizations are awash in data as never before.

During a panel discussion, several IT executives from IBM customer companies shared their experiences related to the use of advanced analytics software:
  • Shirley Lady of Blue Cross and Blue Shield, a health insurance company, said that "what if" analysis is more important to her organization than ever before, given the major market changes that could result from health care reform in the United States.
  • Nihad Aytaman, of clothing retailer Elie Tahari, talked about the importance of quick (as well as effective) decision making to his company's efforts to successfully "chase the business" in the very fluid world of fashion.
  • Debbie Oshman of Chevron, a global energy company, mentioned that her organization was pursuing information-driven enterprise transformation, after having used information well in a project-by-project way. Process optimization and risk mitigation were described as being two key analytics-driven initiatives underway at Chevron.
Following the panel discussion, Arvind Krishna, IBM's General Manager for Information Management software, talked about new developments in his part of the business: DB2 pureScale (about which I recently blogged), smart archiving, smart analytics, a master information hub, InfoSphere streams, Cognos content analytics, and two recent acquisitions: SPSS and ILOG.

An interesting press conference - I joined journalists, analysts, and fellow bloggers for a press conference featuring several senior IBM executives. Announced during the conference were new analytics applications, enhanced stream computing technology, and new Master Information Hub software (you can view the press release on IBM's Web site).

Steve Mills, Senior Vice President and IBM Software Group Executive, talked about a new information-related transformation in light of transformations past:
  • The PC transformation of the 1980s that enabled personal delivery of information.
  • The Worldwide Web transformation of the 1990s that made incredible levels of connectivity a reality.
  • The process-focused transformation of the past decade, which led to improvements in efficiency and effectiveness.
Going on now, said Mills, is an information-led (not just information-focused) transformation, through which organizations are seeking to understand not only processes, but the environment in which they operate. The urgency of this transformation is prompted by two questions: 1) can your organization move fast enough, and 2) can it move smart enough? Helping to make the transformation possible are historically low costs for units of compute power; human interface improvements, such as dashboards, that enable people to quickly absorb and act on information; and the ability to physically place information capture and analysis technology where it could not be placed before. Mills said that 35,000 IBM people are involved in building the Company's "portfolio of capability" regarding advanced analytics - a portfolio that includes software technology and the know-how to put that technology to work for organizations in all kinds of industries.

The press conference concluded with a question-and-answer session. In responding to questions asked by session attendees:
  • Arvind Krishna said that IBM's Information Management software business had grown at a 14% annual rate over the past three years - in a market that grew at a 6% rate.
  • It was mentioned that over 50 OEM vendors are delivering analytics capabilities via cloud computing systems using IBM's Cognos Express offering.
  • Steve Mills indicated that data governance is increasingly seen by organizations as being a mission-critical competence.
  • Ambuj Goyal said that even as IBM works to be a one-stop-shop provider of the information transformation software stack (software that manages, archives, cleanses, catalogs, integrates, and analyzes data), the Company designs its products to use open standards that make it easier for organizations to use a mix of IBM and third-party products in a stack.
  • It was explained that IBM is delivering software that can be used to analyze unstructured data on the Web (e.g., what customers are saying about your company's products), with an emphasis on combining that information with information generated using in-house data.
DB2 "X" is coming along just fine - The next release of DB2 for z/OS is mostly coded, with activity now focused mainly on testing. Jeff Josten, an Distinguished Engineer on the DB2 for z/OS development team at IBM's Silicon Valley Lab, provided a preview of this coming attraction. A few highlights (CAVEAT: this information is truly of a preview nature - it should not be considered as final until the product is generally available):
  • A further exploitation of 64-bit addressing should dramatically increase the number of threads that can be concurrently active in a DB2 subsystem.
  • DB2 X is expected to reduce the CPU consumption of a typical DB2 workload by 5-10% as compared to a DB2 Version 9 environment.
  • Native SQL stored procedures might get a performance boost of up to 10-20% versus a Version 9 environment.
  • LOBs (large objects) that can fit onto a page will be in-lined in a base table versus being physically stored in a separate LOB tablespace.
  • Dynamic statement caching will be more effective for SQL statements that contain literal values versus host variables.
  • There will be a conversion path available for changing simple, segmented, and "classic" partitioned tablespaces to universal tablespaces.
  • RUNSTATS will provide an "auto stats" option.
  • Temporal data support will enable DB2 X to be significantly more useful in the management of data that has "effective" dates (e.g., a change to an insurance policy will become effective on such-and-such a date) and/or which is updated of deleted at some time following initial insert into a table (DB2 will maintain a history of such data changes).
  • Building of a tablespace compression dictionary will not require a utility execution.
  • DB2 X will enable data-masking to be specified at the column level.
  • Private protocol will go away (DRDA is much better anyway), and so will the ability to bind a DBRM directly into a plan (these should be bound into packages anyway).
Rick Bowers has his priorities in order - IBM's Director of DB2 for z/OS development stated repeatedly during his "trends and directions" presentation that "it's all about the customer." If you're a DB2 user, Rick's in your corner. A few of his comments during the session:
  • Enhancing the capabilities of DB2 for z/OS in data warehouse environments is a big priority for Rick's team.
  • Migration of DB2 for z/OS-using organizations to DB2 9 is proceeding apace.
  • 100% of the top 100 DB2 for z/OS-using organizations are using DB2 Version 8 or beyond, as are 99+% of the top 200.
Got mashups? They're easier than ever now - IBM gave us blog-folk a preview of two new products that will be formally announced: Version 2 of the IBM Mashup Center, and Cognos 8 Mashup Service. The latter makes it very easy to use Cognos-generated report data in a mashup application, and the former very much simplifies creation, cataloging, discovery, and reuse of mashups (mashups provide a quick and convenient means of combining data from two or more sources, either external or internal to an organization - example sources could be a sales performance report and a CRM system). With these new products (and they don't have to be used together), if you have existing data sources (internal and/or external) you can combine data into useful new representations in very little time and at very little cost. The GUI interface of the Mashup Center is very intuitive (program development skill is not a prerequisite for productive use of the product), and the product's flexibility is impressive: sources can include MQ queues and RSS feeds (among other things - including, of course, Cognos 8 reports via the Cognos 8 Mashup Service), and you can implement security controls that will govern the use of various mashups. Cool!

That's the wrap-up of my day-one experience at IOD. I'll post day two information tomorrow.


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