IBM To Energize E-business 



Project eLiza and Blue Velocity are the buzzwords that are doing rounds among the top echelons of IBM today. The Big Blue advocates that the twosome can transform every organization from the way it does business today. 

IBM believes that most organizations today are “islands of web applications” and are at the first stage of e-business with stand-alone applications. These include e-commerce sites to support online shopping, customer self-service applications or e-procurement services.

Each of this area is dedicated to a single application and is not a part of an integrated business process. No doubt, stand-alone implementations bring about advantages like new customers and lower network costs. But these do not produce
benefits that can be achieved by tying all applications together. 

This tying up leads organizations to the second stage in e-business, namely integration. Says Randy Walker, GM, Business Innovation Services, “Phase 2 e-business is just beginning. Businesses are investing in innovative projects that can deliver near-term payoffs.”

Disciplined implementation

Business model innovation requires difficult business process re-engineering and disciplined implementation. And when this is carried out, enterprises reach the third stage of e-business evolution, creating entirely new business and industry models.

The third stage of e-business, in reality, means business processes without technological and organizational boundaries. In the past, systems have largely been created by automating manual processes, which are constrained by organizational and sometimes physical boundaries. 

But the Internet and e-business technologies allow anyone-anywhere access that provides for a new, unconstrained flexibility. IBM wants to play up the advantages of this flexibility to emerge strongly in integration and infrastructure for e-business.

To take a march over competitors in this segment, IBM has come out with Project eLiza and Blue Velocity. It would not like to see a repetition of what happened with mainframes when it clung to them a little longer than expected, while the rest of the world made pots of money on desktops and servers. 

The company has learnt its lessons the hard way. It wants to go ahead with gusto to quickly capture a large slice of the e-business infrastructure and integration market. 

So, there is new branding and new projects to focus on e-business. But going a little deeper into what IBM is advocating, one finds that the Big Blue is offering old wine in new bottles to a large extent. 

This is not to say that there is nothing new in Project eLiza and Blue Velocity. Far from it. But the fact is that IBM has been doing great amount of research on various technologies and has been constantly upgrading its products.

Self-healing servers

For instance, Project eLiza revolves around self-managing, self-diagnosing and self-healing servers, that will contribute towards e-business infrastructure. Says Kimberly Stevenson, VP, iSeries Marketing, “IBM iSeries servers provide new ways to manage growth, risk and costs.”

That may as well be true but iSeries is the new name for the erstwhile AS 400 servers! Also, the major goal of project eLiza is to “spread mainframe-like management qualities along with new advances throughout the IBM eServer, storage and software families.” Now, if this is not old wine in new bottles, then what is?

Perhaps, IBM finds it convenient to pack old wine in new bottles at this particular juncture. Now that the dotcom bubble has burst, organizations are skeptical about e-business. IBM wants to overcome this skepticism with Project eLiza which the company wants to offer as the panacea for all the information needs of enterprises going in for the Internet as a business tool. 

Project eLiza takes the help from alphaWorks, that makes IBM’s technology development process more market-driven. “alphaWorks makes key emerging IBM technologies available to the world at the earliest phases of development,” says Daniel Jue, Manager,
alphaWorks.

At a time when technology is growing ever more rapidly and, at the same time, getting highly complex, IBM’s mission to provide systems that can “take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’ ” is timely indeed. Hence, the objective of Project eLiza, to have self-diagnosing and self-healing systems could very well match the expectations of large corporations.

Also, there is no doubt about the fact that IBM can deliver these systems to the satisfaction of customers because managing
complexity is not a new issue to the company. It started off with its mainframes doing batch processing, and now, it uses the same machines for online transaction processing. 

But the time has come for IBM research labs to go even a step further. It has to now deliver heterogeneous workload management systems to keep with the times from the current dynamic workload management.

Advanced e-business council

IBM has accepted this challenge and formed an advanced e-business council comprising its developers, researchers and customers. This council is in the process of defining a Heterogeneous Workload Manager (HWM) that will handle as many as 64 classes of work, spanning the entire network rather than just a single server. 

HWM will track each job throughout the network and automatically tune the network and operating system to reduce delays. It will assist various classes of work in achieving performance goals. 

To make self-managing systems a reality, Big Blue is taking help from a research project called, Oceano, which looks at scalable cluster management. Oceano is an integrated, parallel system that monitors everything from compute and network resource use to application workload and database performance, and automatically allocates compute resources to various workloads.

Self-management is the goal in other areas as well. In the area of distributed server management, IBM wants to establish wireless management of anything from anywhere. 

Dynamic e-business

By now, IBM has become famous for its advocacy of open standards in general and its huge investments in developing Linux, in particular. Says CJ Martin, Senior Middleware Manager, Asia Pacific IBM Software Group, “Non-proprietary software standards create integrated business processes that allow for dynamic e-business.”

According to Martin, the dynamic adaptation of e-business processes and associated systems directly supports the changing business strategies and tactics. While the early stages of e-business depended on browser-based access to relatively static information and person-to-system interaction, currently IBM is working at intelligent transactions on the Web, on totally integrated and dynamic systems.

Terry Hopkins, Director, Wireless E-business Solutions and Services, speaking on wireless e-business, said that only a scalable, reliable, flexible and secure wireless technology would put e-business infrastructure on a sound footing. Says he, “Wireless e-business is business through any device, any network and any data.”Wireless e-business is the next phase in the e-business continuum where IBM wants to play a major role by trying to establish a common infrastructure that supports access to data from any device, anywhere. Blue Velocity

Together with Project eLiza, IBM’s Net Generation Business group has come up with Blue Velocity, a new initiative with a four-pronged approach — programs, partnerships, people and offerings — to help Internet companies and service providers speed their path to profitability. IBM has identified this niche area in the marketplace at a time when dot-com hype has given way to “back to business” reality. 

Says Timothy Wong, Director, IBM NetGen Business, Asia Pacific, “There is added pressure on the Internet companies to focus on their core competencies to translate their promises into profitability. Blue Velocity is meant to turn infrastructure investments into increased revenues and sustainable growth.”

Under Blue Velocity, IBM’s ASP Prime is being enhanced to ASP Prime Online. Under this program, developers and independent software vendors would be provided with education, application evaluation, technical support and consulting services on the Web. 

With the launch of this new initiative, IBM has added Bangalore to its NetGen City model, while Delhi is already a part of it. The NetGen city concept has been developed to allow faster and easier access to IBM. 

Project eLiza and Blue Velocity are meant to provide a new momentum to IBM’s strategies on e-business. With a mix of old and new in Project eLiza, IBM is sure to continue its market dominance in providing e-business infrastructure to enterprises.

And the Blue Velocity initiative would enable it to partner with business associates more closely to help turn Internet companies to profits. 

Sylvester Lobo in Kuala Lumpur

Blue Velocity Offerings

Blue Velocity Offerings

With the launch of the Blue Velocity initiative, IBM has introduced several major new offerings. These include, ISP Solution Pack, eServer Solutions, WebSphere Everyplace Access, and Small Business Suite. These new offerings are meant to enable the Internet-based businesses to accelerate their path to profitability through a ‘plug-and-operate’ implementation process.

The ISP Solution Pack integrates all the basic services required by ISP startups in order for them to tap dial-up and leased users in the shortest time possible. The Solution Pack has in place all the essential components of a typical ISP setup-gateway connectivity remote access devices, servers for basic services, authentication servers, security devices, and billing customer care.

The eServer Solutions include pSeries systems and xSeries Internet caching appliances (ICA). The new pSeries systems offer speed and reliability to run applications such as supply chain, customer relationship management and business intelligence.

The xSeries ICAs get information to the end-user more quickly and reduce overall Internet traffic. ICAs also help save resources as they require lower bandwidth. Featuring an innovative ‘headless’ design that requires no keyboard, mouse or monitor, ICAs can be rapidly deployed and easily added on to the latest technologies in media streaming and content filtration. 

WebSphere Everyplace Access (WEA) provides secure, cost-effective access to an e-business for customers, business partners and mobile employees from anywhere, using any device. With WEA, customers can extend existing HTML and XML content to wireless and other devices and enable voice interaction with a voice browser.

In addition, this integrated open standards-based software enables existing HTML content for voice interaction with the HTML to VoiceXML transcoder. This packaged offering minimizes development costs and time market for new device support and ensures consistent delivery across a variety of channels. 

IBM Small Business Server for Linux delivers an integrated, full-featured Web solution designed for the cost conscious small businesses seeking to put their business on the Web. The suite is offered through channels to help small business customers conduct e-business.

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