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May 14, 2013

Keene: The Future of IT Is 'Information Manufacturing'

By Mike Westholder

“The world is changing,” noted Terry Keene, CEO of Integration Systems (iSys), during his keynote May 8 at the IBM System z and IBM Power Systems Technical Symposia in New Orleans. “We’ve come a long and we’re reaching the final stage of maturation in the computer industry.”

That means information itself, which IT organizations deliver through technology, is becoming a commodity, Keene explained in his speech titled, “The State of the Data Center.” More accurately, he explained, “You are no longer in IT. It’s over; today, you’re in a brand new business: IMS—information manufacturing systems.”

Siting power and telco industries, as examples, he said their commodities are electric service and dial tone, respectively. Consumers don’t care about the underlying technology that allows them to make a call or turn on a light, they just care that it works. So it will be with information.

 He pointed to and its software as a service model. “It provides its service for $100 per person per month,” Keene said. “That is the new metric. That’s how we measure information, and the technology is in the background.

“Do you care if they’re running Linux on Intel? No. All you care about is what you pay for. It’s a new world,” he reiterated.

In this new world, the technology professional’s job is to deliver information to customers—internal or external—where they need it, when they need it, how they need it, and in a form they can use and will pay for. “It has to be the way they want it,” Keene added. “Get that technology in order. Make it consumable.”

As a result, the total cost of ownership and total cost of acquisition concepts are old models that made technology departments a cost center. The new perspective, total cost of information, transforms departments into profit centers, he said.

To do that Keene recommended moving database, data warehousing and analytics efforts onto Power Systems or System z platforms—in large part because they can run at 85 percent utilization or better.

“The first lesson in running a factory is the benchmark for a successful factory is to run it at 85 percent continuous utilization,” he added. “Less than that and you go out of business.”

He proceeded to ask the audience, “How many here are running Intel servers at 85 percent? Don’t raise your hand or I’ll call you a liar.”

Therefore, the raw materials for an information factory, data, should be on Power or mainframe. “If you’re using mainframe, you’re already ahead of the game,” he said.

The advantages of these two IBM server platforms are performance, scalability, virtualization, and resilience, Keene noted. “Virtualization is the secret sauce.” It enables the Power and mainframe to run at 85 percent utilization or better.

Resilience is key as well because consumers assume reliability when dealing with a commodity, he continued. “You expect it to work, if it fails, you through it away.” So you must keep applications running. At IBM in general, and mainframe engineers in particular, availability and disaster recovery are top priorities. “They’re maniacal about that stuff.”

Keene asked audience members, “What kind of utilization are you getting in the factory?” And he challenged them to go back and explain to their organizations that they have work to do. In order to focus on their core competencies, they need to start with a mainframe or Power platform to run at 85 to 90 percent utilization.

“They just keep churning,” he added. “Then work on core competency.” Use the data your company has to develop new insights and sell it to your customers in your organization so they can use it to beat the competition.

“It’s up to us to go back and tell this story,” He concluded. “Drive this train. Tell them you’re in manufacturing; you’re running a plant, and our plant sucks at 10 percent. Let’s get up to 85 and win.

 “It’s up to you. You’re going to win this war. But first you have to get rid of the Linux on Intel mindset.”


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