Tuesday, September 16, 2003

First week with IBM

After a week of training in Fairfax, VA, I'm now back at IBM offices in Cambridge MA, but this time with the services group, not Lotus software. It's really nice to get back to work.

I'm also reading "Who Says Elephants Can't Dance?" by Louis Gerstner, who goes over how he turned IBM from the verge of going bankrupt to the IT success it is today. It's filled with the usual stuff about passion and culture, which I don't buy so much, but also mentioned 1) how important the internet was to making IBM viable again and 2) how customers want technology that's close to their business processes and does not need to be integrated. I'd always thought of Apple as being the company brought back from the dead by the Internet, but I now see how it applies to IBM also.

IBM's big thing these days is "on-demand" computing, which seems to be a combination of outsourcing, ASP, webservices for integration and transaction, backed by new technology that makes running large data centers cheaper (grid computing, which federates data resources and autonomic computing, which automates the more routine administrative and maintenance functions). The basic deal is to take on a piece of a customer's data center, run it at lower unit cost, and split the savings.

Arnold Kling is skeptical about the value of grid computing, noting that there is no active market for old computers. (Although at this point there seems to be little active market for new computers too.) It's true that I'm now drinking the Kool-Aid, and I know nothing about what IBM's grid plans are, but I think its value to those who manage huge datacenters is pretty clear. And hopefully more datacenter management will be done by technology companies than by, well, everyone else.

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