The Buzz


Aug 09, 2011

The Future is Now for Smarter Computing

By Evelyn Hoover

Smarter computing is all about transforming IT, which is often perceived as a bottleneck, into a source of innovation and business benefit to an organization. That was the message IBM Fellow Gururaj Rao championed during his keynote, “A New Era of Smarter Computing: Optimized Systems,” at the SHARE Conference on Tuesday.

“Smarter Computing is a synthesis of what we have seen our successful clients do … with a specialized plan,” Rao said following his session. “These clients are enabling innovation.”

He cited several examples, including one hospital’s use of sensors to monitor infants in a neonatal unit. The data from the sensors is then analyzed to see triggers for life-threatening conditions that might arise down the road.

Similarly, fishermen are using mobile technology on fishing boats to report their catch while still at sea. Restaurants can then negotiate with the fishermen through the cloud. As a result, the day’s catch is already sold while ships are still at sea. They do this on System z, Rao added.

“When you look at these powerful examples, they are creating business value by using IT in a non-traditional way,” he said.

In many cases, these innovations involve non-traditional data as well. Big data sources, like sensors and call detail records, offer great opportunity but they don’t fit in the traditional enterprise data warehouse, so new approaches are needed, Rao noted.

Accordingly cloud and virtualization technologies are being used to create smarter computing, he said. His message, however, is one size does not fit all. Using golf as an analogy, he explained, the objective isn’t to just hit the ball. If that were the case, you’d only need one club.

IT organizations need to determine their specialized needs—cost efficiency through platform consolidation or improved performance, Rao said. The key is to create the right architecture infrastructure based on the business need to deliver business value. This requires a different mindset about how systems can add value rather than simply being perceived as a cost center.

And IBM is able to help customers determine what hardware, software and services are the best fit to achieve an individual client’s needs.

“Any client can enable innovative business value without breaking the bank,” Rao explained.

Feb 07, 2011

I’m Impressed

By Natalie Boike

If you’re one of those people who actually uses a computer to access Facebook (as opposed to a mobile device) and you manage a page, you’ve likely noticed the new impressions counter beneath each of your wall posts.

According to Facebook, impressions count the number of times the post has been viewed on your wall and in your fans’ news feeds. As an example, the average number of impressions on the magazine’s Facebook pages, range between 350 and 400 for the Mainframe edition and 200-300 for the Power Systems edition.

But really, what are these impressions worth? According to Ned Desmond of, Facebook has an Edge Rank algorithm, which determines how often your posts are seen in each person’s news feed. Desmond evaluates the effectiveness of impressions when compared to print, online and e-mail advertising. In most all cases, he rates Facebook as more useful.

Today, post Super Bowl XLV, one particular advertisement tells a strong story about the effectiveness of social media. Two days in advance of the football game, a version of the Volkswagen commercial featuring a young boy in a Darth Vader costumer was leaked on the Internet. Before the game, an estimated 30,000 people viewed the commercial. Now, total online views are estimated at 16 million. The ad has been linked to from Twitter, Facebook, blogs, YouTube accounts and even news websites. (And now, even in this blog.)

It’s hard to imagine a similarly popular advertisement receiving as many views a mere five years ago, without the hype created by today’s social media outlets. I wonder if Volkswagen knew they would be getting 16 million impressions from a 60-second commercial. What do you think that impression is worth?

Jan 19, 2010

The Work-Life Intersect

By Natalie Boike

When I started working on IBM Systems Magazine last fall, I never imagined that one day IBM servers would constantly be on my mind. While many people may take their work home with them, this may verge on neurotic.

For example, when I am out shopping, I look at the computer systems retail companies are using. Often there’s a classic IBM logo on the cash register or credit-card tablet. I’ll make a mental note for when I get home to check if the company is using an IBM Power Systems or System z server. This isn’t always a simple task, but it’s all in the name of a good success story to share as a case study in the magazine.

In the wonderful world of Twitter, I came across a user who you could consider just as neurotic as I am. (I mean this in the most polite way possible!) Kim Moutsos, who tweets @MainframeComm, has been compiling movies, TV shows and books that feature a mainframe. Not only did I find a kindred spirit through this post, but also in the user replies she received. For example, movies that mention a mainframe include “2001: A Space Odyssey” and “The Matrix.” And who can forget the classic “War Games?” Even today’s popular television shows like “Chuck” and “24” feature heavy-duty computers.

So how big is the intersection of your work-life Venn diagram? I challenge you to add to the list at And, if you have any suggestions for a case study, send them my way at [email protected].