At IBM Impact 2013, I became more aware of IBM Pure Systems: what they are and how they work. I was surprised to learn that the implementation of functionality on PureSystems is patterns based.
For example, there is an established pattern of SAP ERP using DB2 for its database. There are patterns that integrate WebSphere Application Server with WebSphere MQ, virtual DataPower appliances, and databases. The list goes on, and if there isn’t a pattern in the catalog that meets your requirements, make one and put it in your own catalog of available patterns for invocation.
I was surprised and pleased to see the concept of patterns being sold in a commercial IBM product. Early in my former tenure as an Integration Architect at IBM, I was involved in testing the revised Process Integration Patterns for e-Business, circa 2003. I won’t take credit for what is in Pure today, but part of me wonders whether or not I helped pave the way.
A pattern is a use case or commonly observed interaction among multiple components. In my experience as an integration architect, our patterns handled the exchange of messages between common end point types, and used common transformation rules. Each “interface” was an instantiation of a pattern.
Pure patterns are pre-configured instances of, and connections between each component in a solution. In the PureFlex environment, each component is a virtual machine running in a private cloud. In the PureApplication environment, each component is an application or application middleware virtualized inside the private cloud. In the PureData environment, each component is a virtual database or data cluster.
When a pattern is instantiated, it is configured for the specific business solution in order to meet given requirements. IBM has harvested the most common patterns of usage in the business world of infrastructure, applications and data and turned those patterns into products. Hats off to IBM for providing patterns based solutions to common problems of systems integration. IBM even admitted they learned a lot about making their own products work together when they built the PureApplication solution.
“Applause” from someone (me) who formerly ran a startup business on WebSphere Application Server and Message Broker connected via JMS running on top of DB2. It wasn’t a walk in the park to install, configure, and then maintain.
IBM Pure has helped solve these problems using patterns, and through the elasticity of a cloud environment, the solution can scale up and down to meet demand.
Patterns are not just useful for instantiation. They are very effective during system testing: test one instance of a pattern to make sure the pattern works before moving onto test the remaining instances. Once deployed, system monitoring and maintenance can also be designed within the context of patterns. Last but not least, governance of the solutions and change control is easily handled through the use of patterns.
Patterns are no longer limited to what we see in woven fabrics, art work, architecture, or mechanical design; they now apply to the cloud. Fortunately, IBM has figured out how to make clouds look the same through the use of patterns, and when a new cloud formation appears that we haven’t seen before, it can be captured and saved as a pattern for future reuse.
Reduce, recycle, and reuse. That’s pure.Posted in News & Analysis | Tagged #integration, cloud, ibm, Patterns, PureSystems | Leave a comment
May 7, 2013
Field service automation (FSA) is reemerging as a key focus area for service-oriented organizations of all sizes. For a few years now the core features delivered by major FSA players have been commoditized with little or no differentiators at all. New capabilities such as social collaboration, mobility, and offline connectivity mode emerged in the past couple of years and the majority of vendors have added these capabilities in one fashion or another.
Within the scope of its recent FSA Vendor Landscape, Info-Tech was impressed with TOA Technologies’ information-powered approach to FSA. TOA’s Field Service Automation platform is built with powerful self-learning analytics engine (one step towards artificial intelligence). The engine searches for individual’s and organizational patterns to delivery optimized scheduling, smarter collaboration and better customer service. We all hate it when the cable company gives us 12 hour-long service windows, don’t we?
This approach manifests itself in different phases of the service lifecycle. For example, scheduling engines usually use averages when estimating time need to resolve field issues. In reality the resolution time depends on individual and geographical characteristics. Identifying such patterns and using them in scheduling results in more realistic schedules. The more TOA’s customers use the product, the more information is learnt by the system to further optimize scheduling.
What’s more impressive is how that information which already exists in almost every organization is used to deliver very powerful collaboration to field technicians when they need it the most. TOA’s collaboration features allow technicians to request help using their mobile device and automatically locate the best resource anywhere in the organization (in the field or back at the head office) and connect them to the field technician to help resolve the issue.
Info-Tech believes that technology should leverage the collective knowledge of an organization to deliver optimization, lower costs, happier customers, and empowered employees. TOA Technologies seem to be on the lead edge, and Info-Tech predicts that such information-powered approach will soon take hold in the space.
For more on these vendors, read Info-Tech’s Vendor Landscape: Field Service Automation.Posted in Applications, Infrastructure, News & Analysis, What's New in Research | Leave a comment
May 7, 2013
The theme of this year’s IBM Impact 2013 Global Conference in Las Vegas, NV was “Business in Motion.” The theme was reinforced when Robert LeBlanc, IBM’s VP of Middleware Software, and Vijay Sankaran, Ford Motor Company’s Director of Application Development, arrived on stage on day 1 in a Ford Fusion. The Ford Fusion is a significant advancement in the use of computer technology in vehicles, with Ford claiming it has over 16 million lines of code in it. Initially, the car was referred to as a rolling data center, but one could also ask, is it a mobile device?
IBM introduced the five key imperatives that business needs to begin focusing on in 2013. At the top of the list is mobile. MobileFirst is an IBM portfolio of offerings that support the delivery of powerful computing into the hands of users, literally. Everyone who owns a smartphone owns a computer more powerful than the ones used in the Apollo missions. Tablets are eating into the market share of personal computers as they offer mobile computing in a user-friendly, interactive interface. Projects such as Google Glass and the rumored Apple iWatch devices will allow us to wear computers.
Enter “Systems of Interaction,” a new term being used by IBM, which is inclusive of “The Internet of Things,” “Systems of Record,” and “Systems of Engagement” all connected via the cloud.
The Internet of Things includes all those things you may or may not see that aren’t computers, but they generate data: road sensors, weather stations, traffic lights, satellites, utilities, security cameras, RFID tags, etc.
Systems of record are the traditional CRM, ERP, SCM, and databases used for conducting business. The traditional footprint of IBM technology.
Systems of engagement are where the data meets the people. It is the smartphones, tablets, PCs, kiosks, smart boards, and now vehicles.
The cloud sits in the middle of all these systems, or more correctly, the cloud provides the necessary elasticity of storage, computing power, middleware, and application functionality that is required to enable the connection between the systems of interaction.
The MobileFirst initiative can be summed up in the one phrase that appeared as a full-page IBM ad in last week’s Wall Street Journal: “Mobile isn’t a device. It’s data.” Every mobile device either receives or generates data: from email and text messages through to photos, videos, GPS coordinates, and more depending on the apps that are installed.
The analysis of the data captured by a mobile device can help retail influence buyers depending on where they are, what they just did, the weather patterns in the area, and even the friends they are with. This data can also help people avoid traffic jams and accidents; optimize delivery routes; and optimize emergency response times. Video captured by security cameras and mobile devices were a primary tool used to locate and apprehend the Boston marathon bombing suspects. There are endless use cases, but regardless of how many there are, the systems of engagement will continue to be mobile.
Each of IBM’s remaining imperatives follow the premise of MobileFirst.
- The second is to reinvent your business design and processes to adapt and leverage the new mobile computing world we live in.
- The third imperative is to adopt a flexible and secure integration model that enables information to flow to/from the mobile devices and among the systems of interaction.
- The fourth is to be insight and data driven to find the hidden insights generated across the systems of interaction.
- The final imperative is to build on open architectures to support more plug and play of mobile devices and the information that flows between the systems of interaction.
That’s a pretty comprehensive set of imperatives that demonstrate that IBM has been thinking beyond the hype of Big Data, the Internet of Things and mobile computing to figure out how it all comes together. What else would you expect from the world’s largest technology company?Posted in News & Analysis | Tagged #integration, big data, cloud, ibm, M2M, Messaging, mobile, process | Leave a comment
April 26, 2013
Communication systems continue to evolve from legacy voice-centric heritage to enriched multi-media collaboration sessions equipped with presence, IM, video conferencing, and desktop sharing. IP telephony (IPT) has become the new foundation of communication with between employees, and increasingly across the entire supply chain. The growth of mobility, consumer devices, teleworking, HD audio and video expectations, and multi-media communication and collaboration demands have motivated organizations to centralize and manage all forms of communications in integrated systems.
Traditional IPT vendors have added increasingly sophisticated features to their core telephony platforms, while Microsoft has extended its original UC-focused OCS product into a full-fledged telephony system in Lync. Visit Info-Tech’s solution set Vendor Landscape: IP Telephony and Unified Communications to see what leading IPT/UC vendors have to offer.
Cisco, with well rounded IPT/UC solutions for the mid-market and organizations of almost any size, and both a Champion and the Trend Setter in Info Tech’s IPT/UC Vendor Landscape, has demonstrated clearly how an IPT-origin solution can enable a full range of advanced UC features, including multi-media recording and analytics, fixed mobile convergence (FMC), web and desktop video conferencing, and out-of-the-box Lync integration. Emerging Players like Interactive Intelligence and Digium have brought affordable alternatives to the table, generating stiff competition for more established vendors when specific use cases (contact center and open source, respectively) are an important focus.
Whether employees are on their desktops in the office, at the airport on their tablets, or anywhere in between, IPT/UC vendors are increasingly able to provide full multi-media feature parity across the ever-growing breadth of devices and platforms. Info-Tech expects this trend to continue: Avaya’s top-rated IPT/UC solutions, coupled with its acquisition and integration of Radvision’s leading video conferencing systems, and the general move toward SIP across the IPT/UC market are an indication that it may only be a matter of time before we see a number of converged IPT/UC/VC solution providers.Posted in Infrastructure, Research, What's New in Research | Tagged ip-telephony, ipt, telephony, uc, unified-communications, voip | Leave a comment
April 25, 2013
Many organizations look to deploy a video conferencing (VC) solution in order to better meet business collaboration needs, address rising travel costs, and reduce travel time. Often businesses neglect to take into consideration of the advantages of having advanced features for integration. Although affordability and capital costs are something to consider, organizations should look further into the future and realize sometimes the most value can be gained by paying more for features that will simplify use and make end users more efficient.
Pervasive video conferencing is nearing a reality: integration with UC solutions, clientless web conferencing services, and cloud/hybrid infrastructure deployment options all contribute to expanded opportunities for use of traditional room-based VC systems. Similarly, enhanced options for high-quality VC across commodity internet connections – led by Vidyo and adopted by other vendors evaluated by Info-Tech – mean that video-based collaboration is no longer the exclusive domain of enterprises that can afford top-dollar vendor offerings.
As tablets and smartphones are further embraced (or at least accepted) by organizations, video conferencing and IPT/UC integrated solutions look to become more critical. Organizations are generally looking for full feature parity on tablets and smartphones if video conferencing is to take hold in the increasingly important mobile space: Avaya’s Radvision acquisition is a good indication of this direction, following a similar route as Cisco with their Tandberg acquisition and broader UC ecosystem.
All-in-all, Info-Tech sees a bright future for video-centric collaboration as part of converged communication strategies that aim to provide easy-to-use solutions that increase end-user productivity.
To compare different VC vendors, take a look at Info-Tech’s Vendor Landscape: Video Conferencing.Posted in Analyst's Angle, Infrastructure, Research, What's New in Research | Tagged ipt, mobile, smartphones, tablets, uc, vc, video, video-conferencing | Leave a comment
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