IBM's Sense Of Innovation

Yesterday, I was treated to an extravagant " powerful, even " display of new IBM technology.

April 1, 2004

2 Min Read
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Yesterday, I was treated to an extravagant " powerful, even " display of new IBM technology. The devices (you will now recognize and please excuse the pun above) were all driven by some form of Big Blue's POWER technology. POWER5 server blades were on parade, as well as Apple's G5 computer and the supercomputer Blue Gene (you'll now excuse IBM's cleverness), which runs on the POWER4 architecture. It was an impressive technological array, laid out at the oh-so-cool W Hotel on Lexington Avenue in New York City, in the core of the Big Apple.

All of this is miles away from company headquarters in Armonk and even farther away from the IBM birthplace of Endicott, N.Y. While top-level IBMers at the event, including Nicholas Donofrio, senior vice president of technology and manufacturing, Irving Wladawsky-Berger, vice president of technology and strategy, and Bernard Meyerson, chief technologist and vice president all were nostalgic about the debut of the POWER architecture dating back to Feb. 15, 1990, I couldn't help but think about the strides " more like leaps " technology companies, particularly IBM but also HP (see Running On HP), have made in the past 40 years.

Back in the 60s, IBM managed to get it all together to introduce the System 360, the company's first mainframe that was upwardly code compatible. It was no easy feat technologically, obviously, but it was difficult internally as well. There was in-fighting, back-biting, all the makings of a good melodrama or soap opera. (More about this at http://www.serverpipeline.com/18600066) The point is that Big Blue was determined to create a new high-end platform, and it did. While perhaps that spirit of innovation has not always been evident at the company, it is apparently alive and well there now.

First and foremost, IBM is a systems company. All of this focus on the POWER processor is a means to an end: optimizing technology, so it can become pervasive. As Dr. Wladawsky-Berger said at this morning's briefing, the only way technology will become ubiquitous is for it to become accessible. To that end, IBM has recognized that open systems is the route to the future.

The way to get ahead is to BE ahead. Innovation is at the center of all this. Innovation is often the result of collaboration, and such collaboration is greatly eased by the use of open systems. No more worries about proprietary systems. Everyone is speaking the same language.After all, even the most ego-centric among us has to admit that sometimes two minds are better than one.

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