Corporation has been ubiquitous in the data center for so long that it is easy to take it for granted. This is especially true of IBM Storage, who has struggled in the past with both execution and portfolio agility. Two years ago, IBM brought fresh leadership in to run its storage unit. Ed Walsh manages the storage business, and he has had a tremendous impact on the execution of that unit. Eric Herzog joined just before Walsh, leading IBM’s storage marketing organization. Under this fresh leadership, IBM Storage has become an execution machine. It is delivering a very strong portfolio and aggressively and effectively telling its story. Taking IBM storage for granted is a mistake.
Today’s storage landscape is complex. Enterprises spread data between on-premises datacenters, remote offices, the internet of things (IoT), and a myriad of clouds. High-performance analytics and machine learning are placing new demands on IT resources throughout the data center. At the same time, the underlying storage technologies are rapidly evolving. Many technology companies can provide elements of a solution—
Hewlett Packard Enterprise
each have strong portfolios that span a broad range of technologies. Smaller specialty players, such as Pure Storage and Nutanix, provide targeted solutions to solve hard problems with innovative technologies. IBM, however, stands with a small group of peers in its ability to deliver a single source end-to-end solution that bridges artificial intelligence, the corporate data center, and the cloud.
Executing a data-centric strategy
It’s easy for a large technology company to become mired in the breadth of its portfolio, the weight of its legacy offerings, and the integration pains that arise from acquisitions. While it can be understandably challenging, this doesn’t seem to be an issue troubling IBM as much as it plagues some of its competitors. IBM, under Ginni Rometty’s leadership, has been uniquely aggressive in shedding businesses that do not play to the core strategies of the corporation. Rometty and her team have also been very strategic in driving the acquisitions that IBM has pursued.
IBM is executing a data-centric strategy, meaning that IBM is focused on offering solutions that drive the intelligent placement and processing of its customer’s data. IBM’s leadership talks publicly about how that strategy is comprised of cloud, artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain and quantum computing. In addition to these strategic initiatives, IBM maintains a strong infrastructure business of compute and storage solution. This is a natural consequence of IBM’s revenue-heavy legacy business, and how enterprise IT views cloud deployments today.
Enterprise IT has decided (for now) that their architectures exist between cloud and in-house data centers, with workloads placed where it makes the most business sense. It’s a hybrid-cloud world. These intersecting approaches bring along an unprecedented level of compute and data mobility, which in turn dramatically increase the complexity of managing an organization’s infrastructure and data. My colleague Patrick Moorhead recently wrote about this in his Forbes article “Data is Escaping the Data Center.” IBM’s cloud strategy bridges this gap.
A strategy’s ability to deliver value to an organization’s customers defines its success, with a return to its shareholders. In this regard, IBM has been successful, showing revenue growth in five of the last six quarters.