In between the Michael Phelps' no-show incident, Smash Mouth, and celebrity talking-head Forrest Sawyer, IBM's Pulse event in Las Vegas was a good microcosm of the state of IT today and where it is going. Here are a few of my takeaways:
IBM's "Smart Planet" initiative previews the future. Within the next few years, all kinds of stuff will be instrumented with RFIDs, IP addresses, and bountiful cheap processing power all connected by wired and wireless broadband networks. Organizations that capitalize on this infrastructure will successfully collect, analyze, and make decisions on this overwhelming global intelligence. Even in tough economic times, IBM is reminding business folks that they better be prepared for this inevitability.
Data continues to explode. All of this smart technology is spitting out a ton of data and there's no end in sight. In spite of the recession, many customers complained that their biggest problems were either finding space for new storage devices or keeping up with storage operations. Clearly we need more automation in this area. IBM seems to be doubling down on storage hardware, software, and services to capitalize on this insatiable storage appetite.
Cloud computing is confusing--and profitable. I must have heard 50 questions about the definition of cloud computing which should tell every marketing manager in the tech industry to tighten up their messaging. In spite of this confusion however, IBM seems to be doing quite well in areas like managed backup, desktop, and security services.
Security is baked into everything. IBM deserves credit for recognizing that big honkin' global "smart planet" applications could open up a ton of new security threats. I just hope that its customers get this message.
IBM's industry focus should help it weather the storm. IBM announced service management solutions for six industries including banking, utilities, and communications. These offerings should be especially attractive in emerging markets building massive new infrastructure.