IBM Makes Pitch for Virtualization with Strong References

Rob Enderle

Earlier this week, IBM made a pitch for massive server virtualization. I was going over my notes and found that there were some interesting tidbits inside worth sharing, but the strong reference accounts are what I'll share this time.

IT Is a Mess

It is always good to start with a problem statement and IBM did this with a set of stats that should give most IT folks pause. According IBM, a whopping 70 percent of the global 1,000 will have to modify their data centers to meet new power and cooling requirements in the next 12 months. This won't be cheap either as many of these centers lack the needed cooling capacity and will require major structural changes to meet the new requirements that likely have not yet been budgeted for.

Nearly the same percentage of workstations will be virtualized, based on current trends, by 2013. Device connectivity will explode by 2011 and include trillions of connected sensors and embedded devices that will have to be monitored and secured. Digital data is now growing at a whopping 80 percent per year and 6 terabytes of data are being exchanged on the Internet every second. In the face of this mess, 66 percent of existing budgets are allocated to maintenance and in 2010, both OpEx and CapEx budgets were cut for most IT groups by over 30 percent.

This kind of IT business analysis is frightening, but many of these numbers appear to hold up.

IBM's Solution

IBM has placed its server virtualization, power management and unique cooling solutions against a good (OK, frightening) problem statement. The core benefits are pretty consistent with every aggressive virtualization offering, which suggests that delivery of solutions can be increased and staff productivity can be increased by the use of advanced management tools resulting from a blend of solutions from IBM, VMware, AMD and Intel (this an x86 solution). Based on initial reviews of aggressive virtualization, IBM is seeing an 8 to 1 ratio of server consolidation, a drop of $600 in energy usage per year per server, and a 10 percent reduction in electrical costs over a three-year period of time as the result of new hardware combined with aggressive virtualization and the blend of management tools.


What is perhaps more interesting is that by using its programs, IBM can increase the number of virtual servers by 78 percent while holding most license costs flat for a variety of applications, reduce the VMware license costs by 50 percent, and reduce the energy costs by up to 96 percent if customers choose its new hyper-efficient blade servers. Additional benefits the company promises include a 34 percent reduction in server management costs and a 38 percent reduction in storage management costs from older systems already in place.

The promises go on for some length, but you get the point, which is that current generation hardware and software can reduce the costs related to a server and storage environment significantly, but this is where we need actual customers and IBM had a few.


The first case was Euronics, which is evidently a buying group company in Europe. I take that to mean a large retail chain. It is a multinational and has 6,400 employees in 29 countries. The solution spans a massive 11,000 stores. They implemented an end-to-end SAP virtualization solution with automatic load balancing and an integrated maintenance option on IBM Power 570 and a SAN volume controller. Euronics confirmed that savings were as advertised.

Bryant University

The second was Bryant University and there it used an IBM BladeCenter, IBM System Director and Tivoli. It started with four server rooms and consolidated down to one and is now saving 15 percent on energy, 21 percent on OPEX and 26 percent on CAPEX, and seeing an improvement of 30 percent in maintenance time spent. The university appears very pleased with the solution.

China Telecom

The biggest reference account was China Telecom, which has 74 million mobile subscribers, 58 million broadband subscribers and 180 million access lines. This was an aggressive implementation as the client wanted to see massive improvements in its ability to deliver solutions in an effort to aggressively grow market share. Apparently IBM didn't disappoint, and the client reported that application delivery went from 3-4 months to 2-3 days, ongoing maintenance costs dropped by half, and both energy and CO2 emissions were reduced substantially. These guys appear to be huge IBM fans now.

Wrapping Up

What sticks with me on presentations at this scale aren't the vendor promises, but the customers who show up to validate their experiences. Most companies complain that they can't get customers to become advocates and that always makes me take what they are saying with a big grain of salt. But these were credible reference accounts and the fact that they were willing to step forward and praise IBM speaks volumes about what makes my old employer different, and me still proud to have worked there. It's nice to see that they are still kicking a little butt and taking names.

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Apr 9, 2011 11:03 AM 121212 leaps 121212 leaps  says:

Storage will begin to shift more rapidly towards SSD arrays now too for both vitualization performence and power/cooling. I think these guys are leading the charge. Just found out the other day that HP resells them now. and they are already are certified with IBM SVC, EMC vPlex, HP servers, etc.

Apr 11, 2011 1:58 AM Chris Cox Chris Cox  says:

IMHO, Violin is mainly known for their caching acceleration, and NOT for general storage.  While it was certainly true that people like Texas Memory Systems were the defacto leaders in the space, now that SSD technology has become more "commodity", the traditional "disk" space players like IBM, EMC, HP, Hitachi, etc. are probably the new "leaders".  Not saying that Violin and TMS aren't going to be used, and some times they may even be the better choice for certain components or scenarios... I'm just saying that the traditional players are now into SSD.


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