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Also posted on: The Norfolk Punt
Innovate 2014 is IBM Rational’s Developer Conference, although it is getting increasingly hard to silo-ise IBM conferences by product—there’s a lot of cross-fertilisation and overlap. Which is probably why we were told that next year Innovate, Pulse and Impact will be combined into a single IBM software conference. Makes a lot of sense to me, although I couldn’t get a lot of details out of anyone (not even a conference name).
Anyway, I’m here early for the Open Technology Summit, led by Angel Diaz (CP of Open Standards and Cloud Performce at IBM and its champion of open technology) and Kevin Stoodley, Rational’s CTO. Despite a rather inaudible panel, I think it is quite clear that IBM is fully committed to open technologies for its development environments, running on its BlueMix PaaS. And for much of its production stuff, although I don’t see DB2 going open source any time soon. These open technologies include Cloud Foundry, Apache Cordova (the OSS incarnation of Phonegap) and (especially) OpenStack, and others. IBM is also committed to Softlayer virtualisation, of course, on which BlueMix runs, which isn’t built on OpenStack (yet, anyway). However, BlueMix is built on Cloud Foundry, which is IaaS agnostic, so that’s not a huge problem.
Kristof Kloeckner (GM, IBM Rational) was on hand to give his blessing in his keynote: “Cloud is unthinkable without openness”, he says; and I’m glad to hear that. Jerry Cuomo (IBM Fellow, VP and CTO of Websphere) summed it all up with his mantra “the open way is the only way”, following which, he claims, is how he put his children through school. He tells the story of how his 18 year old son, in University studying computing, doesn’t really relate to what his father does—it’s old fashioned, slow, expensive, for people in big companies in suits, seems to be what he thinks. Yet, after a demonstration of the new BlueMix developer environment, Cuomo finds it still on his son’s computer some time later. Apparently, something he does at IBM is actually cool—and that seems to be addressing an issue I’ve mentioned before.
IBM has some really neat ideas these days, based on both implementation at speed and trust (getting something fast is no use if users don’t trust it to deliver the required outcome, reliably), using its flavour of DevOps at scale. However, tomorrow’s big systems customers are today’s 18 year olds in startups, and IBM probably needs to gain mindshare amongst these people, before they get big and buy suits. As I’ve said before, the BlueMix cloud environment may be a big part of IBM’s answer to that problem.