IBM Think 2023 - Recap and Highlights
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WWT had several people in attendance for IBM's Think 2023 Conference that concluded on May 11. The event sold out and was well attended by both business partners and customers from across the country and around the world. IBM President and CEO Arvind Krishna gave a keynote address on Monday that covered a number of topics, but showed a strong emphasis on hybrid cloud, data and AI, sustainability and IBM Business Partner Focus.
Multiple sessions at the 2023 IBM Think conference were focused on the explosive growth of hybrid cloud and data and AI technologies. Multicloud capability, scalability and speed of adoption of a hybrid cloud approach are all roadblocks that customers are facing as they shift their IT strategy.
Storage Fusion is IBM's primary offering in the hybrid cloud landscape, designed to help customers launch enterprise-class container and virtualization solutions rapidly. Many customers with "home grown" environments may have met their data management needs initially, but now require more advanced capabilities like encryption, backup, replication and data portability. Other IBM announcements are focusing on Fusion as the core platform, showing IBM's commitment to this offering moving forward. As Red Hat Ceph, Storage Scale and Storage Protect offerings are integrated into the Fusion solution, IBM seems to be working toward comprehensive solutions that can cover everything a customer will need to successfully deploy a hybrid cloud in their environment.
With technologies like ChatGPT moving onto the main stage, AI is a very popular topic in the enterprise space. This landscape is presenting new opportunities for customers to improve their workflow, increase security and cyber resilience, and improve customer service. However, AI still needs governance and tools to help customers be successful. IBM had a heavy focus on its data and AI capabilities and the technology behind the scenes that makes it possible.
Wednesday's announcement of the Watsonx Data and AI platform is IBM's next leap forward in making AI consumable. Split into AI, data and governance offerings, Watsonx is focused on providing a comprehensive offering to meet the needs of modern businesses without having to deal with multiple vendors and solutions. The Watsonx offering also includes AI-generated code recommendations, allowing even faster customization and deployment.
IBM has been teasing announcements about AI capabilities integrated into the storage layer leading up to Think. This week they shared additional details around the upcoming technology launch and how it will help customers take the next step to minimize the impact of cyber attacks. Pattern recognition at the hardware level will enable storage arrays to spot suspicious activity in-line and take immediate preventative action to help speed up recovery from data attacks. Using Shannon Entropy detection, this technology will integrate with IBM Security products and become part of an overall security blueprint for cyber resilience. IBM will be releasing this capability in the second half of 2023.
While IBM Compute was not a central focus at THINK, several speakers and demos at the THINK Forum highlighted solutions built on Red Hat OpenShift, with some on IBM Power Solutions. The E1050 Power10 server was specifically highlighted at the Forum as an option for Red Hat OpenShift on Power, coupled with IBM Storage Scale or IBM Storage Fusion. As customer interest in new compute virtualization platforms increases, IBM's commitment to delivering an all-IBM compute, storage and software stack for containerized environments promises to simplify the supportability of OpenShift deployments.
Arvind's keynote speech called out IBM's plans to reach net zero sustainability without offsets by 2030. This is a very significant statement, as it is common for corporations the size of IBM to simply buy their way to a "net zero" status via carbon offsets, which are coming under major scrutiny for underdelivering on their promise. IBM intends to achieve this status via its focus on sustainable technologies, such as its industry-leading flash efficiency and density, more efficient manufacturing processes, and innovative archive technology.
Think held sessions focused on energy and utility industries, climate innovations, clean energy transition, and technology focused on lowering carbon footprint. Customers looking to make a similar impact will soon need to invest in technology that can help them attain their sustainability goals, and IBM has made it clear that this is one of their primary focuses for the coming future.
For their FlashSystem offering, IDC noted the following industry-leading measurements for sustainability:
- 30% more effective storage capacity per rack unit with FlashCore Module Gen 3
- 809% higher transactional IOPS/watt versus competitors
- 122% higher raw capacity per rack unit compared with the next highest competitor product
- 99% of paper- and wood-based packaging used coming from sustainably managed forests
For Tape technology, the sustainability numbers are even more dramatic when compared to traditional HDD:
- 90x reduction in carbon emissions
- 17x density
- 95% lower heat generation, and 97% reduction in energy usage
Security was a very popular topic across many of the sessions and part of the key messaging from IBM leadership. With recent increases in both cyber threats and regulations on data protection, the common thread of data security across practically every presentation is certainly not surprising. Multiple sessions were focused not only on the current threats to customer data but also on what we can expect in the future and what IBM is doing to prepare. Quantum computing is consistently considered to be a game-changing threat to the future of data security, and quantum-safe cryptographic solutions are moving to the main stage of protection strategies.
IBM recently made multiple announcements around data security that will help shape the future of data protection strategies. The most significant is the announcement of Data Defender, which is intended to be a comprehensive enterprise-class data protection suite that will merge backup, resiliency, and business continuity capabilities into a single offering. Block, file, object, container and cloud data protection will all fall under the umbrella of Data Defender, which takes advantage of Cohesity's Data Protect offering to deliver the solution as a SaaS offering.
Think also featured discussions on the continuous evolution of the Storage Sentinel offering, designed to provide targeted data protection capabilities to SAP HANA and Epic Healthcare workloads. By creating a product specifically tuned to the requirements of these critical environments, customers are able to both rapidly deploy data protection capabilities as well as quickly adapt to new threats as they are discovered. IBM will be adding data protection capabilities to the Sentinel offering covering Oracle, VMware and Microsoft SQL.
As previously mentioned, IBM is working to integrate AI capabilities across its portfolio to increase its overall cyber resilience. With the announcement of AI capabilities being deployed in the FlashSystem storage array line in the second half of 2023, we can expect to see similar capabilities announced in other product lines in the coming months.
100-year-old companies have to continuously evolve in order to remain relevant and responsive to changing markets, and IBM is no exception. Over the past two years, IBM has altered its go-to-market strategy to be almost exclusively business partner-focused. WWT has been proven invaluable to a number of industry-leading manufacturers due to our expertise and customer-focused strategy, and IBM's partner strategy fits into this design perfectly. IBM has committed to continue investing in business partners and to drive new opportunities and customer engagement through this model. Our IBM-focused efforts in our Advanced Technology Center have helped set WWT apart from other partners by providing trusted insight into new offerings and emphasizing a hands-on approach to customer discussions.
WWT is an IBM Platinum Partner, with over 35 different proficiencies covering different disciplines of IBM technology. IBM has invested heavily in our Advanced Technology Center (ATC), enabling WWT to provide POCs, hands-on demonstrations and education. WWT is a trusted advisor for the entire IBM portfolio.