Cloud, analytics and mobile aren’t just changing the way you compute, they’re changing the way you do business with customers. To succeed in today’s world, you must meet customers’ demands the first time, every time, any time and anywhere. To tackle such challenges, IBM is launching an enhanced zEnterprise® .
Pictured: IBM Watson in Action: Buzzing in with the right answer to take the lead
Some of you may have heard that on Wednesday night, the Supercomputer known as IBM Watson defeated the two biggest "Jeopardy" winners of all time: Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter. IBM Watson finished the Jeopardy competition on Wednesday night with $77,147 in winnings over Jennings' $24,000 and Rutter's $21,600. Whether you turn on the TV, open the newspaper or log-on to Twitter, you'll find news of Watson's victory. Watson is sweeping the media with headlines shouting that in the battle of man versus machine, the machine won. Well, that's not quite true. Yes, Watson is a machine, but the Supercomputer is a machine created by humans. The brains behind Watson are the researchers and IBM technologists who developed this creation. Wednesday night at the special Jeopardy screening viewing at the Landmark Theatre in Los Angeles, I had the pleasure of meeting some of the brains behind Watson. Two brilliant IBM Researchers joined a full house of IBM customers at the event. Just as fascinating as watching IBM Watson play Jeopardy, was the live question and answer session that followed the Jeopardy TV show. Rick Lawrence, Manager, Machine Learning at IBM Research and Bhavani Iyer, Software Developer, IBM Research held the interest of the capacity crowd for almost an hour after the Jeopardy show ended. The human brains behind Watson shared the fascinating back story of how Watson was built and programmed for Jeopardy success.
Pictured: IBM's Bhavani Iyer and Rick Lawrence at the Los Angeles Jeopardy viewing party for IBM Watson.
According to Rick Lawrence, the power behind Watson is "2,800 IBM Power7 processor cores and 16 terabytes of working memory. " What does that look like? Well think of 10 big refrigerators all together in one room, and that gives you a vision of the servers behind IBM Watson. The IBM Watson Super Computer enjoys virtually 24 X 7 up time and lightening quick processing time via IBM's Power7 processors. This accounts for the speed with which Watson can "buzz in" to note he is ready to answer a question or search his data stores to find an obscure answer like who was inspired by William Wilkinson's "An Account of the Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia" to create a famous novel? Elementary my dear Watson, Who was Bram Stoker and Watson got it right! While Watson knew his 19th century authors, there were other questions that he appeared not to know. There were a few of questions from the Los Angeles audience about some of Watson's answers during the Final Jeopardy part of the first game. In this Jeopardy match, Watson gave a notable wrong answer. The category was US cities, the Jeopardy clue was "Its largest airport is named for a World War II hero; its second largest, for a World War II battle." The correct answer was "Chicago", but Watson answered "Toronto." One customer asked, "How did Watson get the wrong city on the airport and the World War II battle question?" Good question.
Rick explained that Watson has "learned" that correct answers within the US cities category are not always cities, so that the category did not provide sufficient confidence to select Chicago over Toronto. Indeed, Watson's confidence for both answers was well below 50 percent. Rick also noted that postmortem analysis by the Watson team has shown that had the words "US City" been in the clue, Watson would have given priority to Chicago. Another question from the Los Angeles audience was, "What about how Watson computes the amount of the odd wagers/bets he made?" While Watson has tremendous capability to search and retrieve data from all the encyclopedias, dictionaries and news articles stored in his data repository, the Super Computer had an interesting way of placing wagers that did not go unnoticed by the audience. When Ken and Brad made nicely rounded wagers, like $2,000 or $5,000, Watson was coming up with odd numbered wagers like $8,788. What accounted for Watson's odd wagers? According to the researchers, it was the mathematical calculations that Watson was running that allowed the Super Computer to come up with its precisely numbered bets. Rick discussed Watson's wagering strategy in some detail, noting the the relatively low wager that Watson placed during this Final Jeopardy round reflected Watson's historical performance in this category, as well as the fact that Watson had a significant lead at this point.
The evening concluded with Bhavani Iyer taking a few questions from the audience on the Question and Answer Technology Watson uses. Bhavani Iyer is responsible for achieving the speed in the DeepQA technology that makes the system competitive in a live Jeopardy match. One audience member asked,"How is Watson processing the Jeopardy questions? " Bhavani explained that Watson considers internal representation of analyzed content of about the equivalent of 200 million pages when attempting to answer a clue. Bhavani explained that Watson's DeepQA processing is both CPU and memory intensive. Initially, Watson's computation took 2 hours to answer a question on a single CPU. By scaling out Watson's computation over 2,880 POWER7 processing cores and optimizing the computation and access to its data, Watson is able to answer most questions in about 3 seconds enabling the system to compete on Jeopardy. This how Watson can search his machine brain, just like a human processes a question through the brain pathways looking for an answer. Another question for Bhavani " What was the underlying framework within Watson used to scale things?" "We used Apache UIMA," said Bhavani. "This is a technology developed in IBM and used as the framework for the processing. This is Opensource and can be downloaded from www.uima.apache.org"
Both Rick and Bhavani were amazed by the audience's enthusiastic response to Watson's Jeopardy win. "Watson sparks the audience's imagination and everyone is fascinated by Watson whether they are technical or not," Bhavani told me after the event. "This is because Waston changes the way humans interact with computers," says Bhavani. "No more searching by one keyword for an answer, now you can just ask a question." I have a feeling, Watson will be answering a lot more questions. Think of the possibilities for enhancing decision making in scenarios like health care. The possibilities are endless.
Oracle's recent announcement
to stop further software development for the Itanium platform has
created a significant anxiety amongst clients using Itanium technology.
And with good reason. According to ComputerWorld, "Technology executives at companies running Oracle databases and
applications on Hewlett-Packard servers say that Oracle's decision to stop supporting Intel's Itanium chips could force them to undertake expensive hardware and software upgrades."
Since the announcement, we've heard from customers and Business Partners asking us what IBM's position on this is. In order to respond, IBM is holding a webcast on May 12th to discuss how enterprises can mitigate their risks and
build a transition plan to the IBM platform. Click here to register for this web event.
The webcast will feature information about possible options for
Itanium clients from IBM executives, including discussions on the impact, decision path, and major considerations that a
user might encounter as they look ahead for answers. As HP Itanium
Users re-evaluate their current infrastructure, IBM can make the
transition much easier.
Pictured: Roxanne Reynolds-Lair (center),CIO at FIDM, flanked by IBM Watson researchers Bhavani Iyer (left) and Rick Lawrence (right).
Last week IBM held a series of private viewing events around the United States to let our customers enjoy the IBM Watson Jeopardy final. One of the most enjoyable parts of these events is having the opportunity to speak with IBM customers about their view of Watson's supercomputing capabilities. Before the event, I had the opportunity to chat with Roxanne Reynolds-Lair, CIO of The Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM) in Los Angeles. FIDM has been in downtown Los Angeles since 1969. Today, the college consists of four dynamic campuses with a co-ed student body of 6,000 full-time students from 30 countries and more than 30,000 graduates. The college's Resource and Research Center is the largest specialized fashion library in the Western United States, offering students access to print, online and electronic resources, as well as visual and creative materials. In 2009, the school achieved worldwide fame when it was featured on Bravo's popular Project Runway series. With such a large infrastructure, keeping the school systems and data running is a big task. In 2010, FIDM choose IBM Power7 to help them power their systems and keep critical information at their fingertips.
Because Roxanne is an IBM Power7 Customer, she wanted to see IBM Watson in action during the Jeopardy challenge. IBM Watson runs on the same type of IBM Power7 hardware that Ms. Reynolds-Lair uses at The Fashion Institute for Design & Merchandising (FIDM) in Los Angeles. Following is my interview with Roxanne Reynolds-Lair, CIO of The Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM) in Los Angeles.
Q. Why are you so interested in IBM Watson? A.. Watson and FIDM rely on the same IBM Power7 hardware to accomplish their mission. At FIDM we installed an IBM Power7 770 in December 2010. We run IBM i OS and Linux, with IBM Websphere Portal, IBM Content Management, IBM Websphere Commerce, Lotus Notes, Sametime, QuickR and Forms along with our custom applications. It is really exciting for our FIDM IT team and the entire IBM i and Power platform community to see "IBM Power 7" on TV and in all the Watson articles.
Q. How do you think Watson's Deep QA (Question/Answer) technology can be used after Jeopardy?
A. The applicability of Watson Deep QA in our everyday lives has limitless potential. I would like my doctor to have the Watson wealth of analytic information prioritized to determine the best diagnosis. I don't believe computers are going to take over the world but I do believe that we as humans need to take full advantage of the benefits of technology and create collaborative solutions using the best of both technology and the human brain.
Q. What did you think of a Supercomputer playing Jeopardy? A. The IBM Watson Grand Challenge was a serious research project but presented to the public in a very understandable and entertaining manner. Watson has been the "buzz" around the water cooler. The Jeopardy Challenge was presented in an informative, educational and entertaining format. And just like humans, Watson is not always perfect, but learns from mistakes and moves on to make our world better.
To learn more about how Ms. Reynolds-Lair uses Power7 at FIDM, watch this video.
One of the best ways to get educated about storage and data management issues is to listen to how customers are working with their IT challenges. In the video below, Josh Morton, Vice President, IT Enterprise Services at Sprint talks abouthow IBM's storage made a huge impact on the way Sprint was managing their storage/data issues. IBM System Storage solutions helped Sprint slash maintenance costs by 60%, increase utilization by 45%, and more effectively utilize lower cost tier 2 storage and their existing infrastructure. It doesn't get much better than that!
On a smarter planet, technology is fueling innovation. Demand for
computing resources is growing. Are your clients ready for Smarter
Smarter Computing at the Pulse Conference
Pulse 2011 IBM is launching Smarter Computing at Pulse 2011. Join us in Las Vegas, February 27. Look for the Smarter Computing Zone in the exhibit hall. Click here to add session #2069 to your agenda now.
Don't Miss The Smarter Computing Live Stream Kickoff streaming from Pulse!
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Last week eWeek magazine featured a rave-up on IBM's enterprise hardware business. In IBM's recent earnings announcement the hardware division showed its "best quarter in a decade based on hardware sales in the first quarter of 2011, and analysts say it is because IBM has the right mix at the right time." So what are some of the right features IBM has at this time? The winning combination seems to be innovation and high performance. According to the article:
IBM's success in servers and systems is tied to the strategic decision IBM made during the 2008 recession to invest billions of dollars in hardware, with a focus on innovation and integration at every level of the systems stack, from semiconductor technology through application optimization, IBM officials said.
IBM's investments in high-value and high-growth areas like workload optimization, analytics, virtualization and data center energy efficiency are bearing fruit. In 2010, IBM released significant new product enhancements across its entire portfolio, from a radically redesigned System z mainframe and Power to Intel-based System x and storage.
If you're an IBM customer who has heard of, or attended our Pulse conference, odds are that you think of it a Service Management event that is about IBM's SLM software from Tivoli. But this year's event promises something different. Especially for customers who are interested in maximizing the performance of their enterprise hardware. After all don't business analytics and lightening fast servers go together like Fred and Ginger? This year, IBM is highlighting a new theme called "Smarter Computing" at the conference.
Smarter Computing is the next evolution of IT that will enable your clients to optimize their systems with analytics and high-performance hardware. The powerful combination of IBM hardware plus IBM software enables clients to plan and manage their investments to achieve an optimized enterprise. Investments in emerging technologies such as cloud computing can be more predictable, resulting in savings of up to 40 percent of technology infrastructure expenses through balancing IT capacity with business growth. Click here to see the Smarter Computing agenda at Pulse. A series of sessions at the conference will highlight these aspects of Smarter Computing:
The Smarter Computing tracks will demonstrate how businesses all over the world can use integration, automation and transformation to dramatically improve the economics of IT. Highlights include:
The Smarter Computing Agenda. Sessions and demos covering the industry's latest trends. If you attend, you'll learn how IBM is applying Smarter Computing to data, systems and service to create efficient and innovative IT.
The Smarter Computing Zone. Demos featuring IBM's industry-leading capabilities to help you better manage data explosion, rapidly changing workload requirements and customer demands for more flexible service models.
The Hardware Circle. All the latest IBM hardware innovations. You'll see how flexible, centralized system designs are delivering superior IT economics.
If you're interested in learning more,click on over to www.ibm.com/pulse. Did I mention the conference is in Las Vegas featuring Pulse Palooza? And you never know who might show up. In years past, Smash Mouth has rocked Pulse Palooza.
Today at the Gartner Data Center show in Las Vegas, IBM announced that powerful new predictive analytical capabilities,
constructed using intellectual property from 21 inventions, have been
incorporated into its global technology services portfolio – including
information technology and strategic outsourcing services. IBM VP Steve Sams, vice president, IBM Site and Facilities Services, hinted at this news yesterday in his luncheon address to over 650 conference attendees.
This is the
latest example of IBM using analytics capabilities to transform the
nature of high-value business and technology services, which includes
everything from identifying fraud in tax or healthcare systems, to
predicting consumer buying behaviors for retail clients.
Predictive analytics capabilities have been pioneered by IBM
Research to enable chief information officers (CIOs) to construct
specific, fact-based financial and business models for their information
technology (IT) operations. Traditionally, CIOs have had to make
decisions about their IT operations without the benefit of tools that
could help interpret and model data. Now, planning future investments
for data center capacity or adopting emerging technologies such as cloud
computing can be more predictable, resulting in savings of up to 40
percent of technology infrastructure expenses through balancing IT
capacity with business growth.
"Until now, CIOs have been unable to access many of the predictive,
analytics-driven tools that CEO's or CFO's have used for years," said
Steven Sams, vice president, IBM Site and Facilities Services. "With
today's announcement, CIO's are able to not only apply relevant facts to
optimize current IT investments, but also access business insights
needed to make the best use of limited resources. In essence this broad
array of new analytical capabilities take data generated from IT
operations and turn it into a set of facts that clients can then use to
make smarter business decisions," he added.
New analytical capabilities are available now across IBM Global
Technology Services. Examples of capabilities that help clients with
data center rationalization include:
IBM's Alternate Cash Flow Analysis can help determine which
alternatives in data center or IT infrastructure operations can
cost-effectively meet a client's business goals. Consolidate or upgrade?
Two data centers or one? Short-term benefit or long-term approach?
This analysis calculates the "do-nothing strategy" – for example, what
would happen to investments if left in their current state – which
provides a baseline for other financial comparisons.
IBM's Physical Threshold Capacity Analysis can help forecast data
center capacity requirements many years into the future, allowing
clients to know how long their data centers will remain viable and when
they will need to be upgraded. A patent-pending algorithm developed by
IBM Research empowers decision-making and improved business performance
through the use of computational algorithms and modeling to determine
how to meet unpredictable demand in data center capacity. Based on
client's input on expected application growth, IT strategy and current
data center capabilities, the tool provides objective analysis on the
data center capacity thresholds to predict energy and space capacity
IBM's Resiliency Rationalization Analysis can help clients correctly
gauge resiliency within their data center infrastructure. Current
metrics for understanding reliability typically focus on the capital
costs and don't facilitate the business decision of understanding the
value of availability to the on-going business operations. Using client
input on relative application values, recovery times, operational
quality and other data can provide visibility into the trade-offs
between the values of availability with the costs of reducing risk
Adopting IBM's predictive analytical capabilities to analyze
cash-flow, threshold capacity and resiliency rationalization can help
CIOs and business leaders better plan, manage and deploy IT
infrastructure and budget effectively.
IBM continues to expand its multi-billion dollar investment in the
business analytics and optimization market. Over the past five years,
IBM has invested more than $14 billion in 24 analytics acquisitions.
Today, more than 8,000 IBM business consultants are dedicated to
analytics and over 200 mathematicians are developing breakthrough
algorithms inside IBM Research.
IBM has announced 55 new and updated server and storage technologies that can help clients gain actionable insights from data, increase IT capacity and deliver new services faster to create profitable business opportunities. This blog post offers a short summary of all the announcements by area of interest. The new and enhanced offerings include affordable business analytics systems, automated tools for implementing security and compliance standards, and starter kits for establishing private clouds.
As the world’s increasing demand for data and services puts a strain on IT resources, organizations become trapped in a vicious cycle in which a rigid IT infrastructure and lack of trusted data leads to reactive or risky decision making. Attempts to overcome these challenges through additional IT investments often result in a more sprawling and costly infrastructure.
The new offerings, highlighted below, address these challenges with smarter computing technologies for business analytics, integrated storage, optimized systems and virtualized data centers.
Designed for Data Companies that handle vast amounts of information need to be able to analyze that data to make better business decisions in real time. IBM is delivering new entry-level business analytics systems, accelerated database analytics and expanded data storage options. Highlights include:
IBM DB2 Analytics Accelerator incorporates the Netezza data warehouse appliance into the IBM zEnterprise System for faster analytic responses. The blending of Netezza and System z technologies enables the merging of online transaction processing (OLTP) systems, which facilitate and manage transaction-oriented applications typically for data entry and retrieval transaction processing, with analytics into a single platform for operational business analytics. The appliance plugs into IBM DB2 for z/OS database on zEnterprise 196 (or z114) and is designed to speed response time for a wide variety of intensive analytics, which ultimately can provide faster business analysis. At a time when organizations are demanding access to customer purchase histories, customer behaviors and real time sales trends, IBM DB2 Analytics Accelerator helps clients sift through this massive amount of data and make the information relevant and actionable in a timelier manner.
IBM Smart Analytics System 9700 and IBM Smart Analytics System 9710 utilize innovative technologies to deliver an end-to-end data warehouse and business intelligence solution on IBM zEnterprise System. The new systems can support a data distribution hub, transactional analysis platforms and modernized reporting systems, or provide a framework for comprehensive predictive analytics. IBM clients can now build a mainframe-based operational business analytics solution at an entry-level price.
IBM POWER7 processor-based IBM Smart Analytics System 7710 and x86 processor-based IBM Smart Analytics System 5710 are single server, all-in-one systems that deliver business analytics and reporting services faster and at a lower cost than previous IBM integrated solutions. Engineered for the rapid deployment of business-ready solutions in days and not months, they offer a breadth of capabilities including business intelligence reporting, analysis, dashboards, data mining, cubing services and text analytics.
IBM Storwize V7000 Unified midrange disk system brings efficiency and simplicity to data storage with file and block storage located on the same system with a world-class graphical user interface. It provides automatic policy-driven movement of files to the desired drive type to help manage costs and simplify administration, the ability to either scale within a system or scale out by clustering two systems together, and enhanced remote mirroring options.
IBM System Storage DS8000 Release 6.2 enterprise disk systems introduce greater performance and improved capacity optimization capabilities that allow organizations to manage diverse workloads efficiently and automatically without administrator involvement. Easy Tier enhancements include automated data migration across three-tiers of storage, as well as automated data rebalancing within a single tier, which can help clients improve performance where and when it’s needed. Moreover, with only two parameters to set, Easy Tier is easy to set up and manage.
IBM XIV Storage System Gen3 enterprise disk system was introduced in July with an advanced hardware upgrade that can improve performance for the most demanding workloads. Now, IBM is adding support for 3TB disk drives that increase capacity by 50 percent in the same physical footprint and enable an increase in usable capacity of up to 243TB per rack (based on IBM internal measurements). IBM is offering several other innovations such as the IBM XIV Mobile Dashboard, an Apple iPad application available at no cost that enables XIV system status to be monitored from anywhere. Separately, IBM this week announced the first Storage Performance Council (SPC) result with the XIV Storage System as part of the SPC’s announcement of the new energy extensions for SPC-2 (SPC-2/E) and SPC-2C (SPC-2C/E). XIV Storage System produced an SPC-2/E result which demonstrated its ability to handle Big Data as well as providing associated energy use data. The SPC-2/E result shows the XIV Storage System provides outstanding enterprise price-performance, in addition to Large File Processing (LFP) performance that is faster than all SPC-2 submissions from competing vendors to date.(1)
Tuned to the Task Systems that are optimized across the infrastructure and tuned for specific tasks enable businesses of all sizes to achieve superior economics. IBM is providing new technologies that automate security and compliance of virtualized environments and multi-system virtualization capabilities to reduce cumbersome IT sprawl. Highlights include:
IBM PowerSC technology provides automated tools for security and compliance of virtualized environments on Power Systems running PowerVM virtualization technology. Centrally managed reporting for compliance measurement and audit can reduce the cost of cloud computing security in virtualized data centers. Clients can automatically apply security profiles and generate reports about compliance, which can reduce administrative costs involved in configuring and auditing systems that require particular industry standards.
IBM z/VM 6.2 offers new multi-system virtualization capabilities within the software to help clients avoid virtual machine sprawl. Up to four instances of z/VM can be clustered together as members in a Single System Image, where they can be managed as a single z/VM system and share system resources.
IBM Systems Director v6.3 includes improvements in performance, scalability and usability for simplified management of optimized systems. Enhancements in the new version include simplified usability functions and fewer installation steps, the ability to manage more endpoints from a single interface, and streamlined database management with an embedded DB2 database.
Managed in the Cloud IBM cloud infrastructure solutions can accelerate deployment and maximize efficiency of businesses who want to achieve rapid, flexible delivery of high value services. IBM now offers solutions that help clients easily establish virtualized data center environments, scale cloud file systems more efficiently and improve system utilization. Highlights include:
IBM SmartCloud Entry solution, delivered by IBM Starter Kit for Cloud, offers the building blocks to create private clouds on virtualized IBM System x and Power Systems hardware. The solution provides simplified initialization and administration for cloud environments on Power and x86 systems, standardization of virtual machines and improved operations productivity with an easy-to-use, self-service interface. Organizations can also quickly and easily scale to more advanced cloud solutions as business demands and workloads increase. See related October 12, 2011 press release, “IBM Introduces New Portfolio of Private Cloud Offerings.”
zEnterprise Starter Edition for Cloud offers customers an entry-level Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) cloud delivery model for Linux on System z with Tivoli Provisioning Manager. This easy-to-deploy, highly secure, resilient turn-key “cloud in a box” extends the scope of the enterprise cloud with centralized management of the entire zEnterprise system.
IBM BladeCenter Foundation for Cloud is a comprehensive, converged cloud computing platform that combines server, storage, networking and management technology that allows clients to quickly create an x86-based virtualization environment that is simple to deploy, manage and scale. BladeCenter Foundation for Cloud comes in three sizes – small, medium and large – designed to fit the business needs of any size business, based on budget, storage size or performance, and is capable of helping smoothly manage a typical multi-rack datacenter as if powered by a single chassis.
IBM Active Cloud Engine scales cloud file systems efficiently by moving files where and when they are needed. It gives companies fast access to billions of files and dramatically improves the management and efficiency of cloud storage. Capabilities for global clouds are available on IBM Scale-Out Network Attached Storage R 1.3 (SONAS) and for mid-sized clouds on Storwize V7000 Unified systems.
IBM Systems Director VMControl 2.4 now offers extended virtual image management and system resource pool capabilities on System x for Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM), the next generation open source hypervisor. The new cloud-ready virtualization capabilities help improve system utilization and reduce time to deploy new workloads.
IBM System Networking delivers smarter data center networking with faster, flexible and standards-based solutions designed to increase performance while helping to reduce costs, space, power and complexity for public and private clouds, as well as analyzing big data. New offerings include IBM 16Gbps Fibre Channel SAN backbones and switches that can ease migration to private clouds, the new 1.28Tb/sec 40GbE IBM RackSwitch G8316 that helps flatten networks for better performance and simplicity, the OpenFlow-enabled 10/40GbE IBM RackSwitch G8264 to increase client control, iFlow Director for high performance, low cost IBM BladeCenter-based appliances for mobile and Web 2.0 applications, and the new IBM Networking Operating System for today’s dynamic, virtualized data centers.
Financing provided by IBM Global Financing, the lending and leasing arm of IBM, helps credit-qualified clients make the transition to smarter computing with zero percent financing for servers, storage and software or deferred payments up to six months. Financing helps clients accelerates their cash flow break-even point by spreading upfront costs over time, enabling them to utilizing cash reserves for other strategic investments. For more information on IBM’s financing options, visit http://www.ibm.com/financing/us/lifecycle/acquire/hardware.