Under Arvind Krishna’s watch, IBM has decreased the number of direct customers from about 5,000 in 2020 to about 400, the CEO told a crowd Monday. And the tech giant plans to leave potential new clients to partners.
“I want to increase the number of clients, also, not just wallet share,” Krishna said. “That means that we need your help. We are not going to go there directly at all.”
The CEO of IBM discussed his company’s investment in partners, the integration of subsidiary Red Hat, encouraged partners to raise their prices given the inflationary economic environment and even weighed in on chipmaker Broadcom‘s pending acquisition of cloud vendor VMware at CRN US parent The Channel Company’s 2022 XChange Best of Breed (BoB) conference in Atlanta.
Krishna was on stage responding to questions from The Channel Company Founding Partner Robert Faletra and CRN Executive Editor of News Steven Burke.
Earlier this month, IBM announced that it had absorbed storage technology and teams from its Red Hat business to combine them with IBM’s own storage business unit as a way to help clients take advantage of the two without requiring extra integration or having to deal with multiple sales teams.
Red Hat’s autonomy within IBM has been essential to its position as an open source software vendor. Krishna clarified Monday that the Red Hat brand will stay in areas where it has a stronger brand than IBM. For storage, “maybe we already have a storage channel, which Red Hat kind of didn’t,” Krishna said.
He said IBM gave Red Hat more security and management capabilities after its acquisition in 2019. Partners can expect more integration between Red Hat and IBM in areas involving Linux.
“So if you can take maybe 50,000 Linux servers and consolidate them using OpenShift on LinuxOne, maybe that‘s a play to be made,” Krishna said. “There’s a few clients who have woken up to that and are doing it right now. So I think that’s going to be a really big play you’re going to see.”
During his talk, Krishna encouraged partners to explore more opportunities in IBM’s artificial intelligence operations (AIOps) offerings, including Turbonomic, Watson AIOps and Instana.
Customers will continue to spend on automation tools, he said.
“The ability to go into an enterprise and tell them, ‘Look, we can do things a lot more automated. We can take some cost out. We can do monitoring, and eventually go closed loop on AI’ – which I don‘t think is happening yet,” Krishna said. “I think is a massive opportunity given the current labor market.”
IBM’s security offerings, as well as Red Hat and containerization offerings, are also areas for partners to invest in, Krishna said.
As for Broadcom and VMware, Krishna said that VMware remains an important partner for his company. And as long as VMware keeps investing in its products, it should remain “a strong franchise.”
“I think it’ll come down to what is going to happen in 2023 and 2024,” Krishna said. “As long as they keep innovating on the products, they keep giving more function back to their clients – it’s a strong franchise. That falls away, then that‘s a different question. But I think the virtualisation world likes those products. Now it’s up to them to keep innovating.”
Krishna also told partners they should raise prices to cover the growing cost of labour with such high inflation in the U.S.
“From our conversations with clients, I would tell you that nobody loves it, but they all understand,” he said. “Because most of our clients are doing the same out to their clients. … Pricing power comes down to something simple. Is the product highly valuable and is it sticky? … In a world of fewer skills, if you have the skills, you can price those skills.”
This article originally appeared at crn.com
Founded in 1911 as a Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company, International Business Machines (IBM) needs to keep its finger on the pulse of the development of information technology not to be ousted by younger tech giants like Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Amazon. With the advent of the internet, IBM needed to widen the spectrum of its products and services to retain its strong position in the tech field. Although the company lost its dominance, having only a 5% market share in 2021, as opposed to 68% shared by Microsoft, Amazon, and Google, it has many spectacular achievements to its credit. IBM holds more patents than any other technology company and takes pride in employees who have earned five Nobel Prizes, four Turing Awards, five National Medals of Technology, and five National Medals of Science. And it had been the top tech company for longer than any of the titans dominating the market now.
Also called “Big Blue,” IBM indeed has an impressive pedigree. After starting to produce hardware at the beginning of the last century, it thrived in this business for decades and became the leading supplier of mainframe computers worldwide. IBM’s gross income had inexorably grown in the last part of the twentieth century, expanding from $14.450 billion earned in 1975 to $71.940 billion made in 1995. The company’s revenue skyrocketed to the record level of $106.9 billion in 2011, after which it has steadily been declining amidst its transition into new technologies and lines of business. To move with the times and survive the competition from other tech titans, IBM gradually shifted its focus from hardware to software and services. It began to devote more energy and money to cloud-based services and cognitive computing. IBM focuses now on offering primarily network services, application services, cloud services, digital workplace services, business processes and operations, technology consulting services, and AI services. IBM Watson, a cognitive system capable of answering questions posed in natural language, has become the company’s high-visibility offering in the technology field. IBM has a strong faith in Watson, promoting the system as a benevolent digital assistant that would help hospitals, offices, factories, and farms. The company’s white paper referred to Watson as “the future of knowing.”
To see how well IBM has prepared for, what it calls, the new age of understanding, study the statistical data presented below.
Sources: IBM, Wikipedia
Once an unparalleled tech giant, IBM has been struggling for the last decade. It had to adjust to the changing world by selling its low-margin businesses and investing in high-margin ones. To implement its strategies, Big Blue sold IBM WebSphere Commerce to HCL Technologies in 2018 and a part of the Watson Health business at the beginning of this year. Although IBM’s earnings are still high, they do not reach the levels hit between 2006 and 2012. The company’s annual revenue skyrocketed to $106.9 billion in 2011, whereas it was only $57 billion last year. In the second quarter of 2022, IBM’s earnings dropped below expectations. IBM’s falling fortune is reflected in the table below:
IBM’s Annual Revenue since 2000 (in $US Billion)
|Year||Annual Revenue (in $US Billion)|
|2022 (Q1; Q2)||$14.2 billion; $15.5 billion|
Source: Statista; IBM
Big Blue has repeatedly changed the segment reporting to reflect its move away from being hardware, software, and service company towards becoming a cognitive solutions and cloud platform company. It changed its segment reporting in 2016, 2019, and 2021. The last change was dictated by IBM’s need to align its segment reporting with its platform-centric approach to hybrid cloud and AI. There are presently six segments in IBM’s business: Technology Services and Cloud Platforms, Infrastructure, Software, Consulting, Financing, and Other. In 2021, IBM’s software segment generated $24.14 billion of its global revenue of $57.35 billion. In 2022 so far, the Software division earned $5.77 billion and $6.2 billion, in the first and second quarters, respectively. The Consulting sector brought the company $4.83 billion in Q1 and $4.8 billion in Q2 of the current year. The revenue earned by the Infrastructure segment amounted to $3.22 billion in the first quarter and $4.0 billion in the second quarter. Revenues generated by IBM’s segments in the last two years are shown in the table below:
IBM’s Annual Revenue by Segment for 2020-2021 (in $US billion)
|Technology Services and Cloud||$25.00||$28.00|
In the second quarter of 2022, IBM’s Cloud Infrastructure had only a 4% share of the worldwide market, lagging behind Amazon, Azure, and Google Cloud. The spending on global cloud infrastructure services soared to $55 billion and thus brought the industry’s total for the twelve months to more than $203.5 billion. Outshining IBM, Amazon and Microsoft together accounted for more than half of cloud infrastructure revenues in the three months that ended on June 30.
These figures show how much Big Blue fell from grace because, in the past, it used to enjoy the leading position. In 2017, IBM reported cloud revenue growth of 33% year-over-year in its first quarter earnings. In that quarter, its cloud revenue jumped to $3.5 billion. IBM’s total cloud revenue over the past 12 months that year hit $41.6 billion and catapulted IBM to the top of the list in the field of enterprise cloud. In the first quarter of 2017, today’s winners were obliged only to trail behind with lower earnings: Microsoft with $14 billion, Amazon with $12.20 billion, and Google with $10 billion. The latest market share of the main providers of cloud infrastructure can be seen in the table below:
Worldwide Market Share of Cloud Infrastructure Providers in Q2 2022
Sources: Statista, IBM
Net income is defined as a company’s net profit or loss after it has accounted for all its revenues, income items, and expenses. IBM’s net income for the quarter ending on June 30, 2022, was $1.292 billion, which constituted a 5.06% jump year-over-year. The company’s net profit for the 12 months ending on June 30, 2022, was $5.588 billion, demonstrating an increase of 4.76% year-over-year. Last year, IBM’s annual net income reached $5.743 billion, a 2.74% surge from 2020. The first year of the pandemic brought IBM a net income of $5.59 billion, which was a whopping 40.73% drop from 2019. In 2019, IBM’s annual net profit was $9.431 billion, an 8.05% advance from 2018. The uneven trajectory of IBM’s annual net income is drawn in the table below:
IBM’s Annual Net Income since 2009 (in $US Billion)
|Year||Net Income in $US Billion|
IBM is the fifth largest employer in the United States. In 2021, the company employed 282,000 people worldwide. This year, the number of people working for Big Blue dipped to 245,000. As the company has lately been struggling, experiencing drops in its revenues, it is trying to restructure its business and be on par with such tech giants as Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and Apple. Hence the decline in the number of its employees this year. The table below shows how the number of IBM’s employees has changed over the years:
IBM’s Number of Employees Worldwide from 2000 to 2022 (in 1,000s)
|Year||Number of Employees (in 1,000s)|
As the world is facing a probable recession, analysts believe that the enterprise tech sector will still continue going strong. People who are tech-savvy will turn to IBM in these unpleasant times to help them survive in a tighter economic environment and use the company’s software, consulting, and infrastructure to work productively during an economic decline. Big Blue can definitely provide the products and services people will need in the near future. IBM’s Q2 2022 results signify that technology spending in such spheres as AI, cloud, automation and networking is steady. The company beat anticipated results in the second quarter and boasted its first double-digit quarterly revenue growth in more than a decade. Automatic calculations conducted at Coinpriceforecast.com inspire faith in the company’s future and the cost of its stock. At the beginning of the year, IBM’s stock price was $116.92. At the time of writing, IBM is trading at $118.81, thus demonstrating a 2% jump from January 2022. Coinpriceforecast.com foresees that by Christmas, IBM will surge to $138. In the first half of 2023, the price of the stock might advance to $145 and end the next year at $155, adding 30% to today’s price. Whether or not these predictions prove to be correct, IBM will surely continue pushing technology and innovation forward, as it has spectacularly done since the beginning of the twentieth century.
“We can‘t be essential unless our partners are skilled in our products and confident in going to their clients with our products and selling them with us and for IBM,” IBM channel chief Kate Woolley said.
IBM has started giving registered members of its PartnerWorld program access to the training, badges and enablement IBM sales employees get along with a new learning hub for accessing materials.
The expansion is part of the Armonk, N.Y.-based tech giant’s investment in its partner program, IBM channel chief Kate Woolley told CRN in an interview.
“We can‘t be essential unless our partners are skilled in our products and confident in going to their clients with our products and selling them with us and for IBM,” said Woolley (pictured), general manager of the IBM ecosystem.
[RELATED: Channel Chief Kate Woolley: ‘No Better Time To Be An IBM Partner’]
Partners now have access to sales and technical badges showing industry expertise, according to a blog post Tuesday. Badges are shareable on LinkedIn and other professional social platforms. IBM sales representatives and partners will receive new content at the same time as it becomes available.
“This is the next step in that journey in terms of making sure that all of our registered partners have access to all of the same training, all of the same enablement materials as IBMers,” Woolley told CRN. “That’s the big message that we want people to hear. And then also in line with continuing to make it easier to do business with IBM, this has all been done through a much improved digital experience in terms of how our partners are able to access and consume.”
Among the materials available to IBM partners are scripts for sales demonstrations, templates for sales presentations and positioning offerings compared to competitors, white papers, analyst reports and solution briefs. Skilling and enablement materials are available through a new learning hub IBM has launched.
“The partners are telling us they want more expertise on their teams in terms of the IBM products that they‘re able to sell and how equipped they are to sell them,” Woolley said. “And as we look at what we’re hearing from clients as well, clients want that. … Our clients are saying, ‘We want more technical expertise. We want more experiential selling. We want IBM’ – and that means the IBM ecosystem as well – ‘to have all of that expertise and to have access to all the right enablement material to be able to engage with us as clients.’”
The company has doubled the number of brand-specialized partner sellers in the ecosystem and increased the number of technical partner sellers by more than 35 percent, according to IBM.
The company’s latest program changes have led to improved deal registration and introduced to partners more than 7,000 potential deals valued at more than $500 million globally, according to IBM. Those numbers are based on IBM sales data from January 2022 to August.
Along with the expanded access to training and enablement resources, Woolley told CRN that another example of aligning the IBM sales force and partners was a single sales kickoff event for employees and partners. A year ago, two separate events were held.
“I want our partners to continue to feel and see this as a big investment in them and representative of how focused we are on the ecosystem and how invested we are,” she said.
RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – An undisclosed number of Red Hat employees will move to IBM as part of a consolidation move uniting the tech giant’s data storage offerings under one name. The move reflects the importance IBM places on cloud computing – and why it acquired Red Hat in the first place.
It’s also perhaps the first big sign of the “Borg” (IBM) assimilating the open-source flagship (Red Hat) Enterprise. Example: Cloud data news site Blocks and Files says the consolidation means IBM is “deepening its assimilation of Red Hat.”
“Red Hat storage product roadmaps and Red Hat associate teams” are moving to the IBM Storage business, the companies said.
The deal is an attempt to capitalize on what tech research firm Gartner says is a surging demand for so-called hybrid cloud services – a blend of private and public cloud offerings. IBM cited Garner research as forecasting that in three years 60% of what it calls “infrastructure and operations leaders” will embrace hybrid clouds, up from 20% today.
IBM bought Raleigh-based Red Hat for $34 billion in a deal that closed three years ago but in many ways the company have remained separate. At that time IBM justified Red Hat’s strength in cloud computing as the driving force in the deal, citing the cloud as a trillion-dollar business opportunity.
But the consolidation announced Tuesday means Big Blue will soon offer what it calls a “consistent application and data storage across on-premises infrastructure and cloud.”
The move comes two months after Red Hat named a new CEO.
Red Hat shuffles top management: CEO now chairman, is replaced by tech VP
The focus is on a technology known as Kubernetes which is “an open-source container orchestration system for automating software deployment, scaling, and management,” notes Wikipedia.
Originally developed by Google, Kubernetes is now maintained by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, and IBM says the market is “burgeoning.”
“This combines IBM and Red Hat’s container storage technologies for data services and helps accelerate IBM’s capabilities in the burgeoning Kubernetes platform market,” IBM says.
IBM says it expects the moves to be completed by Jan. 1, 2023.
Hatters’ new CEO to employees: ‘We will have to fight for Red Hat to succeed—it won’t be given to us’
“Red Hat and IBM have been working closely for many years, and today’s announcement enhances our partnership and streamlines our portfolios,” said Denis Kennelly, general manager of IBM Storage, IBM Systems, in the announcement. “By bringing together the teams and integrating our products under one roof, we are accelerating the IBM’s hybrid cloud storage strategy while maintaining commitments to Red Hat customers and the open-source community.”
IBM says “clients will have access to a consistent set of storage services while preserving data resilience, security, and governance across bare metal, virtualized and containerized environments.”
Red Hat’s OpenShift Data Foundation tech will become the “foundation” for what IBM calls “Spectrum Fushion.”
“This combines IBM and Red Hat’s container storage technologies for data services and helps accelerate IBM’s capabilities in the burgeoning Kubernetes platform market,” IBM says.
IBM set to buy Dialexa, adding to list of more than 25 acquisitions since April 2020
The move also involves the open source community known as Ceph which Ceph has trademarked as “the future of storage.”
IBM says it “intends to offer new Ceph solutions delivering a unified and software defined storage platform that bridges the architectural divide between the data center and cloud provider.” Big Blue will replace Red Hat as the primary sponsor of the community.
“Red Hat and IBM have a shared belief in the mission of hybrid cloud-native storage and its potential to help customers transform their applications and data,” said Joe Fernandes, vice president of hybrid platforms at Red Hat. “With IBM Storage taking stewardship of Red Hat Ceph Storage and OpenShift Data Foundation, IBM will help accelerate open-source storage innovation and expand the market opportunity beyond what each of us could deliver on our own. We believe this is a clear win for customers who can gain a more comprehensive platform with new hybrid cloud-native storage capabilities.”
Read the full announcement online at this site.
Beam that data up: IBM, Red Hat taking cloud services into space
A four-year bachelor’s degree has long been the first rung to climbing America’s corporate ladder.
But the move to prioritize skills over a college education is sweeping through some of America’s largest companies, including Google, EY, Microsoft, and Apple. Strong proponents say the shift helps circumvent a needless barrier to workplace diversity.
“I really do believe an inclusive diverse workforce is better for your company, it’s good for the business,” Ginni Rometty, former IBM CEO, told Fortune Media CEO Alan Murray during a panel last month for Connect, Fortune’s executive education community. “That’s not just altruistic.”
Under Rometty’s leadership in 2016, tech giant IBM coined the term “new collar jobs” in reference to roles that require a specific set of skills rather than a four-year degree. It’s a personal commitment for Rometty, one that hits close to home for the 40-year IBM veteran.
When Rometty was 16, her father left the family, leaving her mother, who’d never worked outside the home, suddenly in the position to provide.
“She had four children and nothing past high school, and she had to get a job to…get us out of this downward spiral,” Rometty recalled to Murray. “What I saw in that was that my mother had aptitude; she wasn’t dumb, she just didn’t have access, and that forever stayed in my mind.”
When Rometty became CEO in 2012 following the Great Recession, the U.S. unemployment rate hovered around 8%. Despite the influx of applicants, she struggled to find employees who were trained in the particular cybersecurity area she was looking for.
“I realized I couldn’t hire them, so I had to start building them,” she said.
In 2011, IBM launched a corporate social responsibility effort called the Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) in Brooklyn. It’s since expanded to 11 states in the U.S. and 28 countries.
Through P-TECH, Rometty visited “a very poor high school in a bad neighborhood” that received the company’s support, as well as a community college where IBM was offering help with a technology-based curriculum and internships.
“Voilà! These kids could do the work. I didn’t have [applicants with] college degrees, so I learned that propensity to learn is way more important than just having a degree,” Rometty said.
Realizing the students were fully capable of the tasks that IBM needed moved Rometty to return to the drawing board when it came to IBM’s own application process and whom it was reaching. She said that at the time, 95% of job openings at IBM required a four-year degree. As of January 2021, less than half do, and the company is continuously reevaluating its roles.
For the jobs that now no longer require degrees and instead rely on skills and willingness to learn, IBM had always hired Ph.D. holders from the very best Ivy League schools, Rometty told Murray. But data shows that the degree-less hires for the same jobs performed just as well. “They were more loyal, higher retention, and many went on to get college degrees,” she said.
Rometty has since become cochair of OneTen, a civic organization committed to hiring, promoting, and advancing 1 million Black individuals without four-year degrees within the next 10 years.
If college degrees no longer become compulsory for white-collar jobs, many other qualifications—skills that couldn’t be easily taught in a boot camp, apprenticeship program, or in the first month on the job—could die off, too, University of Virginia Darden School of Business professor Sean Martin told Fortune last year.
“The companies themselves miss out on people that research suggests…might be less entitled, more culturally savvy, more desirous of being there,” Martin said. Rather than pedigree, he added, hiring managers should look for motivation.
That’s certainly the case at IBM. Once the company widened its scope, Rometty said, the propensity to learn quickly became more of an important hiring factor than just a degree.
This story was originally featured on Fortune.com
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Investors this year increasingly turned away from dividend stocks in favor of the rising yields being offered on bonds. Given that investors can now earn a 4.3% return on a 2-year Treasury note, many prefer that guaranteed return to the risks of putting money into the stock market.
International Business Machines (IBM 1.61%) offers a dividend yield that exceeds that bond return. But with a bear market in progress, are investors better served to take a chance on the cloud stock or to take the 4.3% return at virtually zero risk?
IBM didn't participate in the bull market of the 2010s. The stock dropped as its tech businesses suffered a considerable growth slowdown. In an effort to change that, IBM pivoted into the cloud computing sector aggressively, in part via its $34 billion purchase of Red Hat in 2019. Grand View Research forecasts a compound annual growth rate of 16% through 2030 for the cloud industry. Growth like that could certainly help both IBM and its stock.
Also, IBM spun off its managed infrastructure business into a new public company, Kyndryl. This business was less of a fit with the parent company amid its pivot to the cloud. Separating it off should make it easier for IBM to grow its revenue.
Time will tell if these moves can help the stock price recover. Nonetheless, IBM currently pays its shareholders $1.65 per share every quarter, or $6.60 per share annually. At the current stock price, that adds up to a yield of 5.6% per year. Moreover, depending on your financial situation, the IRS may tax your dividends at a lower capital gains rate, which can offer an added advantage.
Additionally, IBM hiked its payout annually for 27 consecutive years, making it a Dividend Aristocrat. That status carries some importance as many income investors will be more inclined to buy and hold IBM stock because of this status. Also, since abandoning Dividend Aristocrat status tends to hurt a stock, management will probably prioritize maintaining it by continuing to raise those payouts.
Investors also can also reinvest their dividend payments into more IBM stock. However, such newly purchased shares will pay you the dividend yield at that time. The return will rise if the stock falls since investors can buy the exact cash return at a lower price. Conversely, cash yields will drop if the stock rises, but those investors still benefit since the stock has increased in value.
U.S. Treasury notes offer more stability than stocks such as IBM. Investors who purchase the 2-year Treasury note receive semiannual interest payments. At the current interest rate of 4.3%, investors will receive a 2.15% cash return on their invested amount in each of the subsequent three six-month periods. In the fourth period, when the note matures, investors receive the final 2.15% payment along with the return of their principal.
Investors should also be aware that bond values can fluctuate. If interest rates drop, the value of the bond will fall; the opposite will happen if rates rise. This affects investors if they decide to sell the bond early. Upon maturity, the note will return to its par (or nominal) value.
Additionally, bond interest payments are subject to federal income tax but exempt from state and local taxes. In some cases, this is higher than taxes on dividends. Still, bond issuers are obligated to make such payments. In contrast, IBM faces no legal obligation to continue its dividend.
Also, like with a stock, investors can reinvest their interest payments into more notes or other forms of Treasury bonds. However, those purchases will be subject to the prevailing interest rates at that time.
Investors who lack much risk tolerance should choose the Treasury note. Given its guaranteed return, they will not have to worry about volatility.
Nonetheless, for investors comfortable with buying stocks, IBM is a surprisingly strong buy. The cloud industry is in growth mode, which should propel IBM stock to a long-awaited turnaround. Moreover, IBM has repeatedly shown it wants to hold on to its Dividend Aristocrat status. This should supply its income investors returns that are not only larger than the bonds offer, but also likely to increase in size.
IBM Corp. is making some big changes to its data storage services, announcing today that it will bring Red Hat Inc.’s storage products and associates under the “IBM Storage” umbrella.
The aim, IBM said, is to deliver a more consistent application and data storage experience across on-premises and cloud infrastructures. It’s a big move that will see IBM Spectrum Fusion data management software adopt the storage technologies of Red Hat’s OpenShift Data Foundation as its new base layer.
Even more interesting, perhaps, is that the open-source Red Hat Ceph Storage offering will be transformed into a new IBM Ceph storage offering. IBM said this will result in a unified, software-defined storage platform that’s better able to bridge the architectural divide between data centers and cloud computing providers.
The computing giant said the move is in line with its software-defined storage strategy of a “born in the cloud, for the cloud” approach that will unlock bidirectional application and data mobility based on a shared, secure and cloud-scale solution.
IBM Systems General Manager of Storage Denis Kennelly said the shift is designed to streamline the two companies’ portfolios. “By bringing together the teams and integrating our products under one roof, we are accelerating IBM’s hybrid cloud strategy while maintaining commitments to Red Hat’s customers and the open-source community,” he insisted.
The company presented the changes as a big win for customers, saying they will gain access to a more consistent set of storage services that preserve data resilience, security and governance across bare metal, virtualized and containerized environments. More specifically, IBM is promising that customers will have a more unified storage experience for container-based applications running on Red Hat OpenShift, with the ability to use IBM Spectrum Fusion, which is now based on Red Hat OpenShift Data Foundation. Doing so will provide higher performance, greater scale and more automation for OpenShift applications that require block, file and object access to data, the company said.
As for IBM Ceph, the company said this will deliver a more consistent hybrid cloud experience with enterprise-grade scale and resiliency.
Furthermore, by unifying IBM’s and Red Hat’s storage technologies, customers will be able to build a single data lakehouse on IBM Spectrum Scale to aggregate all of their unstructured data in one place. Benefits will include less time spent on maintenance, reduced data movement and redundancy, and more advanced schema management and data governance.
Industry watchers were united in their belief that the changes would be of benefit to customers. Steve McDowell of Moor Insights & Strategy told SiliconANGLE that today’s move makes a lot of sense because it enables IBM to leverage the storage strengths of both companies.
McDowell explained that although IBM Spectrum is considered to be one of the most comprehensive data management platforms around, its foundation predates the rise of cloud-native technologies. On the other hand, he said, Red Hat OpenShift was built from the ground up to support cloud-native workloads.
“IBM is evolving Spectrum Fusion to take the best of Red Hat’s efforts, and is using Red Hat’s storage software as the base for its IBM-branded products moving forward,” McDowell said. “It makes a lot of business sense for IBM to leverage R&D from Red Hat into its more traditionally proprietary systems. It also gives IBM an easy path to better serve the needs of containerized workloads.”
International Data Corp. analyst Ashish Nadkarni said the two companies are now “speaking with one voice on storage” and finally delivering on the synergies between them that were mentioned when IBM acquired Red Hat in 2019.
“The combining of the two storage teams is a win for IT organizations as it brings together the best that both offer: An industry-leading storage systems portfolio meets an industry-leading software-defined data services offering,” Nadkarni said. “This initiative enables IBM and Red Hat to streamline their family of offerings, passing the benefits to their customers.”
IBM also moved to reassure users of Red Hat’s open-source technologies that it will remain fully committed to them following today’s announcements. As part of the deal, IBM will take over Premier Sponsorship of the Ceph Foundation and, along with Red Hat’s teams, continue to drive innovation and development. Both IBM Ceph and Red Hat OpenShift will remain 100% open-source, the company added, and will continue to follow an upstream-first development model.
McDowell said today’s move would likely make some users nervous about the prospect of Red Hat’s technology becoming more proprietary over time. “IBM has been very careful since it acquired Red Hat in 2019 to keep Red Hat’s open-source business segregated from IBM’s branded offerings,” he said. “This is the first time we’re seeing IBM cross that that line, and it’s natural to wonder how blurred those lines will become.”
Still, McDowell said, he’s inclined to believe IBM’s promises as it has been very deliberate about keeping Red Hat’s storage technologies open-source.
“Red Hat OpenShift Data Foundation and Ceph will still be available as they always have, though its evolution will undoubtedly be more strongly guided by the needs of IBM’s storage business,” the analyst continued. “Overall this is a net positive for IBM and its customers. It makes good business sense and there should be minimal impact to Red Hat’s existing community.”
IBM said the first storage solutions to launch under the new IBM Ceph Storage and IBM Spectrum Fusion banners will arrive in the first half of 2023, so users will have plenty of time to digest the changes.