Innovation Through Infrastructure

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December 27, 2017  3:23 PM

Using machine learning to bolster unified endpoint management

Michael Tidmarsh Michael Tidmarsh Profile: Michael Tidmarsh
Endpoint management, MDM

Using Machine Learning to Bolster Unified Endpoint Management

Machine learning is critical to your future. According to IDC, 40% of all digital transformation initiatives will be supported by cognitive/AI models by 2019. However, if you’re looking to modernise your approach to endpoint management, you don’t have to wait until next year. You can leverage machine learning now. Here’s why and how.

Why unified endpoint management?

The first step in leveraging the benefits of machine learning is to understand where there are gaps in your overall approach to endpoint management. If yours is like most companies, you support a wide range of devices, running various platforms and different operating systems within those platforms.

Centralizing management of that environment has been like herding cats. Traditional solutions—typically mobile device management (MDM)—have not been up to the task. They are cumbersome to use and don’t provide centralised visibility and control for all your endpoints. This means your organisation is exposed to heightened risks of security breaches, compliance violations and cost overruns.

There is a new class of unified endpoint management solutions that offer much greater control and protection. These new solutions are cloud native and offer a way to centralise management of all devices under a single pane of glass. IT can much more efficiently manage diverse devices, ensure timely updates and consistently apply and enforce policies. These solutions are also more agile and less expensive than traditional MDM because they offer cloud scalability, simplicity and economics.

Why machine learning?

The most effective, advanced and intelligent versions of this new class of cloud-native unified endpoint management solutions also leverage machine learning as an integrated part of their core functionality. Machine learning delivers contextual analytics and actionable insights that allow you to strengthen security, identify new opportunities and reduce costs through smarter and more efficient lifecycle management of your devices.

Here’s an example of how it can work: The machine learning engine reads hundreds of thousands of sources of information and discovers that 5% of Android devices are running without the latest security patch. An alert goes out to Android users. But what about users of iOS devices? They may be experiencing similar vulnerabilities.  The system understands that it should conduct a similar scan over iOS devices to determine which ones are not using the latest security patch. There is no need for manual intervention: The system sends out the appropriate bullet point with a recommendation on how to remediate the problem.

Machine learning is also valuable in resource management and lifecycle management. With the right solution you can leverage advanced analytics to help the organization make more informed endpoint decisions, including  those around spending. Machine learning capabilities enable you to:

  • Discover best practices for user productivity.
  • Receive automatic recommendations to improve IT optimization and address potential security threats.
  • Define which insights are most important for your organization.
  • Assess the impact of best practices or security risks to your devices, users and applications.
  • Act on the intelligence to identify business opportunities or remediate security threats.

Taking the next step

It is important to regard machine learning as just one function—albeit a very exciting and innovative function—within a holistic and unified approach to endpoint management. Machine learning provides extreme value when it is leveraged as part of a broader solution that lets you manage all of your endpoints from a single pane of glass, regardless of form factor, platform or operating system version. Machine learning enhances the capabilities of the solution with actionable insights and contextual analytics. Your organization can be more secure and more strategic.

When evaluating potential unified endpoint management solutions that incorporate machine learning, any search will lead you first to IBM MaaS360 with Watson. That’s because this is the first solution that truly uses machine learning as part of a cloud-native approach to unified endpoint management. You get the benefits of machine learning, plus all of the additional benefits of a cloud-native model—enhanced agility, simplified deployments and cost savings through cloud economics.

To learn more about how machine learning can benefit your organisation, visit IBM here for a 30-day free trial of IBM MaaS360 with Watson.

December 27, 2017  3:22 PM

Top 6 things to look for in a unified endpoint management solution

Michael Tidmarsh Michael Tidmarsh Profile: Michael Tidmarsh
Endpoint management, MDM

Unifying the management of your various endpoint devices is essential in 2018. Mobility is more critical than ever to successful business outcomes, while risks are increasing, regulations are more stringent and the impact of security breaches are more harmful. It’s a perfect storm.

The question is not whether to unify endpoint management, but how to give your IT teams and users the greatest flexibility and the most effective security safeguards. That’s where we come in. Here are the top six things to look for in a unified endpoint management solution in 2018.

No. 1: Ease of use

If you’re using legacy mobile device management (MDM) solutions, or if you have no solution at all, you well understand the complexity involved in managing your endpoints. You’re also probably keenly aware of the lack of features/user friendliness in existing solutions. Your admins are probably weary from all the manual processes involved in updating systems and enforcing consistent policies. It doesn’t have to be that way. In 2018, you can deploy a simple-to-use, user-friendly cloud-native unified endpoint management solution. This will simplify all aspects of mobile endpoint management by giving you a centralized, single-pane-glass console to view, manage and secure all of your devices.

No. 2: Support for all platforms

Users demand extraordinary levels of convenience, flexibility and reliability. IT consumerization leaves you no room for error and you are at a competitive disadvantage if you don’t empower your workforce with BYOD. That means you are supporting a wide range of endpoints, including laptops, tablets, smartphones, wearables and Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Plus, myriad platforms and versions of those platforms: iOS, MacOS, Android and all the various flavors of Windows. You may still have users fondly attached to their Blackberries. You must support and secure all these devices. With the right unified endpoint management solution, you get a consolidated view of device security status and user activity of all devices, regardless of form factor, platform or operating system version.

No. 3: Machine learning

Machine learning is a new capability in unified endpoint management and most solutions do not offer it, which puts them at a distinct disadvantage to those that do. With machine learning you can use advanced analytics and actionable insight to identify risks before they cause damage, while also achieving efficiencies that are simply not possible with legacy solutions. For example, if Android users receive a security alert that they are running without the latest patches, the system can automatically trigger a similar alert to users of other operating systems.

No. 4: Expense management

One of the biggest challenges with giving users a high degree of flexibility is that they can abuse their privileges—if you don’t have the proper controls in place. Soon you can find yourself paying overage charges because users are streaming movies on company-managed devices. With a unified management platform that uses machine learning, you can identify where and when users are breaking policy and take remedial action. You can also use machine learning to be smarter about device lifecycle management, thereby saving the organization money and reducing risk.

No. 5: Native malware detection

Hackers are increasingly targeting mobile endpoints for malware. Twenty percent of security professionals say their organizations have experienced a mobile breach, and 94% expect the frequency of mobile attacks to increase, according to a survey by Dimensional Research. Ransomware is a particularly insidious threat: Ransomware payments reached a billion dollars in 2016, up from just $24 million paid in 2015, according to statistics from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation. A unified endpoint management platform can significantly reduce risk if it incorporates native malware detection and defence with automated remediation capabilities.

No. 6: Cloud-native

It’s 2018, which means it’s time to leverage cloud services wherever possible. The benefits of using a cloud-native unified endpoint management solution are significant:

  • Faster deployments.
  • Lower costs for both Capex and ongoing operations.
  • Cloud economics for more accurate budgeting.
  • Easier to scale, much more agile to use, less stress on IT operations teams and admins.
  • Assurance that you always have the latest software versions.
  • Automatically updated code as platform vendors release expanded APIs.


If your organization is using an older MDM solution, or if you are still manually managing endpoints, you are bearing unnecessary costs and taking unnecessary risks. Granted, endpoint management has not been easy. But it is now.

With a cloud-native solution, specifically MaaS360 with Watson from IBM, you can simplify endpoint management, reduce risk and gain control over all your myriad mobile devices and platforms. You also take a giant leap into the future by using the machine learning capabilities of IBM Watson to identify opportunities and efficiencies through contextual analytics and actionable insights.

Don’t wait until your organization has been breached. Contact IBM here and take advantage of a free 30-day trial.

December 27, 2017  3:21 PM

Forget MDM: 2018 is the time for unified endpoint management

Michael Tidmarsh Michael Tidmarsh Profile: Michael Tidmarsh
Endpoint management, MDM

It’s time to take a smarter approach to endpoint management. The unfortunate reality is that most organisations have not made endpoint management a top priority. On one level, this is understandable. The proliferation of devices and platforms has made unified management difficult using traditional mobile device management (MDM) solutions.

Legacy MDM solutions are often not kept current because they are not simple to use and scale. In addition, they typically can’t integrate with one another and don’t make it easy for IT administrators to apply and enforce management policies.

In 2018, this posture is too risky. And it’s no longer necessary: Today there are cost-efficient cloud-native solutions that use machine learning to bring advanced unified management capabilities to all endpoints—laptops, desktops, smart phones, tablets, wearables and Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

In this blog post we discuss three key reasons that make unified endpoint management essential in 2018. In a companion post we discuss the top 6 things to look for in a unified endpoint management solution. And in a third post we discuss why machine learning must be a critical aspect of your unified endpoint management solution.

First let’s look at the three critical risk factors that make unified endpoint management the only way to go in 2018:

Risk Factor #1: The Changing Regulatory Climate, Particularly GDPR

With the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) deadline coming in May 2018, it is essential that all businesses—large, midsize and small—prepare now. GDPR requires continuous compliance and levies huge penalties for breaches of personal identifiable information. It also requires immediate notification to the proper authorities. Unified endpoint management can address your compliance challenges in a robust and systematic way. With the right solution, you can bring management of all devices, including BYOD, smartphones and IoT, into a single pane of glass for visibility and control. You can centralise patch management, policy consistency and enforcement to enable continuous compliance and ensure early warnings of potential problems.

Risk Factor #2: A More Dangerous and Sophisticated Threat Landscape

More than 60% of security executives say mobility comes with a greater number of security risks and concerns than expected, according to research from International Security Media Group. And threats continue to grow as hackers increasingly seek to exploit mobile vulnerabilities. Research from ATT reveals that:

  • Employee mobile devices were the primary source of breaches (51%) due to the exploitation of known devices over the past year.
  • More than a third of respondents said IoT devices were the primary source of a data breach experienced over the past year; 68% expect IoT threats to increase in 2018.
  • Ransomware has eclipsed almost all other cyber threats as a top concern, cited by nearly 50% of respondents.

Endpoint protection gaps are caused by a multitude of issues, including lack of visibility and inability to support and patch all of your devices consistently and currently. Remember, it only takes one vulnerable endpoint for an intruder to penetrate your system. You will have a much better chance of succeeding if you modernise your approach with a cloud-native unified endpoint management system that enables you to consolidate management of all types of devices, regardless of form factor, platform or operating system version.

Risk Factor #3: The Growth of Rogue User Behaviour, Including Shadow IT

When it comes to user behaviour, what you don’t know CAN hurt you. Rogue user behaviour can lift its ugly head in a number of ways; software-as-a-service applications such as Box and DropBox; shadow IT initiatives; failure to follow BYOD guidelines, and the use personal applications, such as Gmail or Netflix. Some of these activities can be dangerous, impacting compliance and security. Others can be expensive, with the company incurring overage charges when users stream movies. The right unified endpoint management solution not only gives you single-pane-of-glass  visibility; it also gives you a single management console to consolidate endpoint management tasks across all devices with machine learning for contextual analytics and actionable insights.

Taking the Next Step

Mobility is an important differentiator in business today. Organizations that safely and securely empower mobile users achieve competitive advantage and make their workplaces more attractive in recruiting and retaining employees. But increasing mobility can also mean increasing risk in compliance, security and the impact of rogue user behaviour.

A cloud-native unified endpoint management solution is the best way to mitigate your risks and empower your teams in 2018. Of all the solutions on the market, only IBM MaaS360 with Watson can identify risks and opportunities through the machine-learning capabilities of Watson. To learn more about how IBM MaaS360 with Watson can help you modernise your approach to endpoint management, visit IBM here.

December 19, 2017  2:19 PM

Top 6 factors in choosing the best CMS for 2018

Michael Tidmarsh Michael Tidmarsh Profile: Michael Tidmarsh
CMS, Content Management

It’s 2018, which means it’s time to modernise your approach to content management. We’re in the era of machine learning, cloud computing and digital transformation. If your content management system (CMS) doesn’t have cloud agility and isn’t powered with machine-learning capabilities, then you are officially in jeopardy of falling beyond your competition.

Fear not. The path to a faster, smarter and simple-to-use CMS is clear. And, if you choose wisely, you’ll end up with a solution that makes life easier for both marketers and developers by leveraging artificial intelligence to improve agility, business smarts and speed to market. Get ready. Here are the six factors that will help you choose the best CMS for 2018.

Factor No. 1: Headless Design

The rush to headless CMS models has been a boon to developers and a bane to marketers. In 2018, you don’t have to settle: You can utilize a solution that delivers great tools for marketers and developers. By leveraging a cloud-native headless solution, developers can get the rich API environment they need, while marketers get easy access to their most critical tools, such as email marketing systems and personalization engines.

Factor No. 2: Machine Learning

IDC predicts 40% of all digital transformation initiatives will be supported by cognitive/AI models by 2019. Why wait till next year to build for the future when modern, simple-to-use CMSs are already available? With a CMS powered with machine learning capabilities, you can quickly and easily find the right content for the right platform, whether for the Web, mobile apps, kiosks, cars or any other potential use case.

Factor No. 3: Lower Costs Via Cloud Economics

A cloud-native CMS delivers huge benefits in speed, costs, agility and functionality versus an on-premises solution. With a cloud-native hub, marketers can consolidate and access data from locations all around the world, scaling easily as requirements change. More than that, the organisation lowers costs by using a pricing model based that supports multiple users under one price. It’s 2018 and per-user pricing is a relic of the past. And an expensive one, at that.

Factor No. 4: Omni-Channel Delivery to Support Developers

To accelerate creation and delivery of new content, services and features, front-end developers require a rich array of APIs with tools that enable the development of sites either headlessly or not. The CMS should enable developers to integrate content on all channels, without duplicating, so it is always up to date. In addition to demanding a wide array of APIs, look for a solution that uses a command line client so developers can work without the CMS getting in the way.

Factor No. 5: Simple to Use and Elegant in Design

The CMS should be both simple to use and built for teams, empowering marketers and developers to be faster, more agile and more collaborative. Marketers are far more effective when they can easily organize and orchestrate their content to execute campaigns. Developers can do a better job when they can easily provide marketers with the tools they need to quickly and easily leverage content across all channels.

Factor No. 6: A Coordinated Content Ecosystem

With the right solution, the CMS can be a content hub for all kinds of content from a wide range of sources – Web, marketing emails, social networking posts, the mobile push platform, merchandising campaigns and more. One of the biggest challenges for marketers is organizing the massive amounts of constantly changing content at their disposal so that they can use it most effectively. With a modern CMS that leverages cognitive content management, what had been a challenge can be transformed into a competitive advantage.

Taking the Next Step

One of the best ways to evaluate the best CMS for your organization is to try it for yourself. Potential customers of IBM Watson Content Hub can take advantage of a free trial offer to determine how they can leverage the benefits of a headless, cloud native CMS that is powered with the machine learning capabilities of IBM Watson artificial intelligence. For information on how you can take advantage of a free trial to modernize your approach to content management in 2018, please visit IBM Watson Content Hub.

October 10, 2017  2:37 PM

Are you GDPR ready?

Michael Tidmarsh Michael Tidmarsh Profile: Michael Tidmarsh

Organisations are becoming aware that the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) may require a transformational shift in how to manage the personal information of EU data subjects – but they may not know the best approach to take.

The current challenge is less about falling foul of breaching the new data protection regulations which become enforceable in May 2018, and more about knowing what is required to avoid the potential financial and reputational damage of a breach.

A potential fine of up to $20m or 4% of global revenue (whichever is greater) for a GDPR breach is galvanising action, but many are struggling with aspects of the journey towards GDPR readiness, and we believe having a roadmap and the right partner can assist with safe arrival.

The GDPR journey

Richard Hogg, global GDPR & governance offerings evangelist at IBM Cloud, points out that companies are at different stages of the journey, but may be struggling with the full ramifications of the new rules and the next steps.

“GDPR is all around the personal data of data subjects, which includes any employees, and any external customers and clients you have. Data privacy regulations across the 28 EU states have raised the bar for obligations surrounding personal data. You must know what data you have, where it is stored, how it is processed, secured and protected,” says Hogg.

EU data subjects, have new rights. For example, a customer may no longer want a business relationship and has the “right to erasure”, which means the deletion of any personal data held on them. They can also submit a subject access request to discover their personal data held by an organisation, which must comply within a month without charging a fee. The right of portability means data can be easily switched to a new supplier; and GDPR prescribes strict data quality.

Organisations must have explicit consent from data subjects for their data processing purposes. Data transparency is fundamental and data security and privacy is vital.

If there is a breach of GDPR, a company must report this within 72 hours to the proper regulatory authority and possibly the data subject.

Role of the data processor

Many organisations will turn to a cloud service provider to help with these GDPR challenges, but using a third party – what the regulation calls a data processor – is not a way to abdicate responsibility for ensuring compliance, because that obligation stays with the company as the data controller. Nonetheless, using a cloud service provider can undoubtedly help ease readiness and reduce load and work.

“One of the biggest challenge facing organisations is that they don’t know what personal data they have in multiple systems, with no clear view of where it is from and where it goes to during processing,” says Hogg.

IBM Cloud can help with these challenges by conducting a privacy impact assessment (PIA) to provide a Record of Processing Activities, which is an obligation under Article 30 of GDPR.

“A PIA can help with determining data lineage, and categories of data and how it is processed and the requirement of consent. It surveys across the enterprise and identifies potential gaps against GDPR policies,” says Hogg.

Following analysis with a PIA, which can take just weeks, IBM Cloud can help you migrate your data to its platform to help simplify your GDPR readiness journey by categorising and protecting data.

Accelerating compliance

High-level data mapping, which identifies data at risk of breaching GDPR, can be accelerated using IBM tools. They work from the bottom-up to search for pre-defined data types and catalogue what data is where.

“You can identify and delete obsolete data and determine whether you need explicit consent for data processing from a data subject,” says Hogg.

IBM Cloud can help organizations identify where their data resides – in the cloud or on premises – and help to discover and map for GDPR readiness.

“Organisations could choose to move more of their data to the cloud going forward. IBM Cloud can help with infrastructure deployment around security and privacy of data processing. They can benefit from its strong capabilities for data privacy, security and protection,” says Hogg.

If unauthorised access occurs, IBM Cloud offers “incident management as a service” to help clients discover the source of the problem.

“GDPR gives organisations only 72 hours in which to report a breach. Discovery commonly takes a company 150 days. IBM Cloud can help a client meet that deadline. It has monitoring ability in spades,” says Hogg.

For a GDPR readiness assessment visit or speak with a cloud seller about GDPR readiness.


Clients are responsible for ensuring their own compliance with various laws and regulations, including the European Union General Data Protection Regulation. Clients are solely responsible for obtaining advice of competent legal counsel as to the identification and interpretation of any relevant laws and regulations that may affect the clients’ business and any actions the clients may need to take to comply with such laws and regulations.  The products, services, and other capabilities described herein are not suitable for all client situations and may have restricted availability.

October 10, 2017  2:34 PM

Simplify GDPR readiness with IBM Cloud’s platform

Michael Tidmarsh Michael Tidmarsh Profile: Michael Tidmarsh

Trust can be viewed as a key factor amongst clients and service providers working together towards preparing for readiness with the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). These stringent regulations come into force in May 2018 to ensure that personal data is processed adhering to strict privacy and security requirements.

Fines of up to €20m or 4% of global revenue can be levied for non-compliance with how the personal data of EU data subjects is processed, stored and accessed – which could be enough to put some companies out of business.

However, choosing a third party to handle data processing to simplify your organisation’s journey to GDPR readiness, does not mean you hand over responsibility for that data if any breach of the regulations occur.

The data processor

GDPR includes the concept of a data controller and a data processor –  [i]“data controller” means a person who (either alone or jointly or in common with other persons) determines the purposes for which and the manner in which any personal data are, or are to be processed

“data processor”, in relation to personal data, means any person (other than an employee of the data controller) who processes the data on behalf of the data controller.

“processing”, in relation to information or data means obtaining, recording or holding the information or data or carrying out any operation or set of operations on the information or data, including—

  1. a)  Organisation, adaptation or alteration of the information or data,
  2. b)  Retrieval, consultation or use of the information or data,
  3. c)  Disclosure of the information or data by transmission, dissemination or otherwise making available, or
  4. d) Alignment, combination, blocking, erasure or destruction of the information or data

As such, the choice of data processor is critical, and IT directors and data protection officers should consider the benefits around working with an experienced cloud service provider.

Crucially, a provider should be able to supply the evidence to show it adheres to specific security and privacy standards. One way for a cloud service provider to do this, under GDPR, is to adhere to a Code of Conduct, which is designed to do precisely that.

EU Cloud Code of Conduct

IBM Cloud is one of the the first organisations to declare [ii]24 IBM Cloud infrastructure and IBM Cloud Platform services to the EU Cloud Code of Conduct (“Code”). Development on the Code begun in 2013 and it is the only Code developed in collaboration with EU authorities and the cloud computing community specific to GDPR.

The Code provides assurance to organisations that data processors signed up to the Code are focusing on data privacy, security and information governance to assure GDPR’s strict requirements are adhered to.

Furthermore, it is the only Code that is independently governed, by the monitoring body of [iii]SCOPE Europe. [iv]It is also the only Code that covers the full spectrum of cloud services from software as a service (SaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS) through to infrastructure as a service (IaaS).

IBM Cloud has already signed up 24 of its IasS and PaaS services to the Code since March 2017 and can help its clients towards GDPR readiness.

“The Code comes from existing security standards – ISO 27001, ISO 27018 and will map to emerging data privacy standards such as  ISO 27552, and it requires evidence that companies adhere to standards,” says Jonathan Sage, government and regulatory affairs executive at IBM.  He goes on to clarify “Self-declaration of compliance has no impact. Ticking a box saying you’ve done all that is required is not enough. Behind the Code there are supervisory controls that will document and manifest whether cloud service providers really do comply.”

A quality standard

IBM has 16 datacentres in Europe which gives customers choice about data residency and whether this needs to be within the EU, including a new datacentre built in Frankfurt offering a Bluemix platform. Clients are reassured that IBM Cloud infrastructure has signed up to a Code that’s transparent and its services can provide a quality standard that is GDPR-specific.

“Transparency is very important to the Code. It means that clients can check that third party audits or other mechanisms to comply are in place, rather like a one-stop shop. It can save them a lot of work as it is can offer assurances to customers and to the data protection authorities on GDPR readiness,” says Sage.

Organisations working towards compliance with GDPR and concerned about meeting the May 2018 deadline can be reassured that by working with IBM Cloud they can be well-positioned in their readiness journey.

A tool to reach compliance

IBM Cloud, as a signatory to the EU Cloud Code of Conduct, demonstrates its commitment to helping assure that the personal information of EU data subjects is kept private.

“No company can claim they are compliant with GDPR as it is not in existence until May 2018. The Code is a tool to reach compliance and a great way of driving compliance for cloud service providers, and their clients,” says Sage.

By engaging with the Code early, IBM Cloud can demonstrate its internal change programme towards GDPR readiness.

“The fact it is demonstrable and externally transparent is proof to the market. IBM Cloud had an important role in developing the Code and there is a real buzz in the community with co-developers. It is a feather in our cap and shows we have taken leadership and offer transparency around GDPR readiness,” says Sage.

Clients wanting to know more about how IBM Cloud’s platform can help simplify GDPR readiness can visit


Clients are responsible for ensuring their own compliance with various laws and regulations, including the European Union General Data Protection Regulation. Clients are solely responsible for obtaining advice of competent legal counsel as to the identification and interpretation of any relevant laws and regulations that may affect the clients’ business and any actions the clients may need to take to comply with such laws and regulations.  The products, services, and other capabilities described herein are not suitable for all client situations and may have restricted availability.





September 28, 2017  4:10 PM

Think Beyond x86 Clustering For an Enterprise-Class Linux Solution

Michael Tidmarsh Michael Tidmarsh Profile: Michael Tidmarsh

Linux has made impressive inroads into enterprise-class computing environments because of its performance, security, scalability and global open source support network. As a result, more and more enterprise-class workloads—such as analytics, databases and transaction processing—are moving to Linux.

Now, dramatic increases in data volume and velocity are being driven by such trends as big data, pervasive enterprise mobility and the Internet of Things. This surge in data for lightning-fast transactions and transformative business insights has put big pressure on data center infrastructure to handle the load. The question is: What’s the best approach to meet those needs?

Clustering of x86 servers is one option that inevitably comes up. After all, x86 servers come with relatively low price tags, are easy to install and support a wide range of applications. For specific environments, like fast-growing small businesses or departmental applications, clustered x86 servers may be a good way to go.

But for enterprise-class, mission-critical workloads that demand high-end processing power, throughput, infinitely scalable storage, fast network connectivity and rock-solid security, x86 clusters are likely to come up short. There are several reasons why:

  • Economics: Despite a typically low initial capital expense, x86 clusters actually are likely to cost more money as those clusters expand and proliferate to meet increased need for more storage, processing power and connectivity. Adding more “oomph” to handle enterprise workloads means adding more servers, as well as more storage in the form of NAS appliances and expensive storage-area networks. Software licenses and support fees also are going to expand in lockstep with increased cluster size.
  • Enterprise workloads are built around applications that require a lot of memory (which often means expanding the x86 cluster farms). Also, not all enterprise applications lend themselves to cluster-based architectures—something IT executives and their business users can’t afford to find out after the fact.
  • Management and monitoring. More boxes mean more management complexity, especially if those clusters are built on different server brands and operating system versions. That makes automation more challenging, which in turns puts a bigger burden on IT staffs to monitor system operations and application performance.
  • For enterprise workloads, organizations want to limit the potential points of entry for hackers and other threat vectors. More servers and more clusters are going to increase the threat vulnerabilities, not reduce them.

Fortunately, there’s a better option: A mainframe-class Linux server with vastly improved economics. IBM’s LinuxONE server is optimized for enterprise-class Linux workloads that demand performance, scalability, security and manageability, as well as an attractive total cost of ownership model.

One major area where the IBM has focused LinuxONE is disaster recovery—a critical requirement for enterprise workloads that cannot afford downtime, or even short interruptions in application availability. “Because LinuxONE systems utilize a shared-everything data architecture, there is no need for multiple copies of files or databases,” according to an IBM-sponsored report issues by IT consultants Robert Frances Group. “This not only eliminates out-of-sync conditions, but also simplifies the set-up and execution of the recovery point objectives and recovery time objectives.”[1]

Three key principles underscore the IBM LinuxONE philosophy:

  • Open source delivered on the best environment for your organization—on-premises or in the cloud, be it public, private or hybrid.
  • Limitless flexibility and scalability for expanding workloads, combining the best of open source and enterprise computing.
  • Risk reduction, utilizing proven hardware and software platforms from a trusted source and heightened security features including blockchain technology.

As the performance, security and cost efficiency of Linux-based solutions becomes increasingly apparent, enterprise workloads are increasingly migrating to Linux. Smart IT and business decision-makers will continue gravitating toward purpose-built Linux solutions, rather than built-on-the-fly x86 clusters, to handle enterprise workloads in modernized data center environments

[1] “10 reasons LinuxONE is the best choice for Linux workloads,” Robert Frances Group, 2015

September 28, 2017  4:08 PM

Successful Blockchain Adoption Requires Smart Infrastructure Decisions

Michael Tidmarsh Michael Tidmarsh Profile: Michael Tidmarsh

Blockchain technology, initially associated exclusively with exotic new cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, is aggressively expanding its market footprint as organizations look to leverage its core capabilities in security and cost efficiency.

Analysts project blockchain adoption will increase more than tenfold between 2016 and 2021, eclipsing $2.3 billion in global revenues.[1] And data presented at the World Economic Forum indicates that 10% of global gross domestic project will be stored on blockchain technology by 2027.[2]

Although blockchain—a distributed ledger and decentralized database for secure transactional data—is most widely utilized in financial services because of its Bitcoin relationship, it also is widely used for such use cases as counterfeit prevention, trading market clearings, claims fraud, Internet of Things and public records management. Those and other uses make it very attractive in such industries as retailing, public sector, insurance and healthcare.

It’s easy to lapse into deeply technical discussions about blockchain’s underpinnings—algorithms, permissioning and hashing. But blockchain’s main benefits are widely agreed upon: It is a highly secure, scalable and cost-efficient way to maintain and validate rights and privileges for all kinds of digital transactions.

“Blockchain has no single point of failure,” wrote “If one node goes down, it’s not a problem because all of the other nodes have a copy of the ledger.”[3] With that strength, it’s easy to see the attraction of blockchain in an era when security threats are increasing—dramatically—in their frequency, geographic scale and magnitude of data compromised.

So, adopting blockchain technology seems like a good idea, regardless of industry or geography. But with a commitment to blockchain also comes a responsibility to make smarter, longer-lasting infrastructure choices that match blockchain’s security, reliability and cost efficiency.

What should you look for in your blockchain infrastructure? According to a report from consulting firm Pund-It (and commissioned by IBM), there are some essential capabilities and functionality you should require when evaluating blockchain infrastructure.[4]

  • Multi-tenant separation and isolation, to ensure that participating entities data and activities are walled off.
  • External attack security to protect blockchain deployments through encapsulated software in a secure, signed, trusted, appliance-style container.
  • Cryptographic key safety to prevent privileged users from creating snapshots of blockchain data.
  • Integrated protection, rather than technology bolt-ons that often leave data exposed and accessible to attacks.

As organizations increase their use of blockchain technology across multiple use cases in order to improve security and cost efficiency, the selection of the underlying platform and infrastructure is critical. IBM has made a strategic commitment to this technology with the IBM Blockchain Platform, powered by IBM LinuxONE systems.

IBM Blockchain Platform represents an integrated approach, because it allows organizations to develop, govern and operate blockchain networks. The platform aligns with the Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Project, an open source-based collaboration for blockchain development. IBM Blockchain Platform is optimized for cloud environments—specifically IBM Cloud—because it utilizes techniques designed to close potentially devastating blockchain vulnerabilities.

The platform is underpinned by IBM LinuxONE, a robust, highly available and mission-critical hardware system offering users the security, speed and scale required in blockchain use cases. IBM LinuxONE delivers rock-solid security through unique service containers and crypto-cards, while ensuring high throughput with dedicated I/O processing and high scalability supporting up to 2 million Docker containers.

Blockchain is a big, big deal for enterprises that need the combination of security, availability, performance and cost efficiency for their most important applications and workloads. That’s why IBM has made blockchain a major component of its enterprise solutions strategy via IBM Blockchain Platform and IBM LinuxONE.




[4] “Ensuring Secure Enterprise Blockchain Networks: A Look a IBM Blockchain and LinuxONE,” Pund-It Inc., August 2017

June 23, 2017  3:46 PM

Top 5 reasons SMBs should invest in software-defined hybrid cloud storage

Michael Tidmarsh Michael Tidmarsh Profile: Michael Tidmarsh
Cloud storage, Hybrid cloud

IT storage has become a critical decision point for small and midsize businesses (SMBs). Without the right storage solutions, SMBs run the risk of being overwhelmed by spiraling data growth, which can negatively impact IT costs, complexity, security and availability. At the same time, SMBs face the same pressures as larger companies to use data strategically to drive business operations, improve the customer experience and support digital transformation.

SMBs typically have the added challenge of tighter IT budgets and less IT personnel resources than enterprise companies. Therefore, the importance of managing return on investment (ROI) and delivering measurable business benefits can be even greater for IT decision-makers in SMB environments. Storage is a particularly important investment because data has become the lifeblood of most businesses and is growing significantly in volume, velocity and variety.

To address these issues, many SMBs have turned to public cloud storage options. However, using just the public cloud can be a challenge because IT has less control over costs, performance, security and compliance. In addition, if the public cloud storage is not centrally managed, the organisation can face additional risks caused by shadow IT. For those reasons and others, approximately 80% of midmarket customers are looking at how to integrate cloud-based storage with on-premises storage.[1]

The hybrid cloud storage environment created by the mix of public cloud and on-premises storage allows SMBs to maximise ROI while delivering the performance, capacity, scalability and flexibility required by developers, users and line-of-business managers throughout their organisations. The top five benefits of hybrid cloud storage for SMBs are:

  1. Improved ROI: With hybrid cloud storage, IT teams can manage costs more strategically, using the strengths of public cloud and on-premises infrastructure to their best advantage. For example, public cloud can be used to support seasonal spikes in demand and new infrastructure for DevOps, while on-premises storage can be used for applications where IT needs to maintain strict control over security and data protection. Both environments can be centrally managed from the same platform.
  1. Increased agility: With the right solution, IT organisations can use the storage platform of their choice, including all-flash storage or hybrid flash/spinning disk. They can also leverage features such as intelligent tiering and hybrid cloud object storage to maximise their investment. When IT is more agile, businesses benefit in a number of ways, including increased productivity, higher customer satisfaction, improved quality assurance and a greater ability to strategically leverage data analytics to meet the needs of employees, partners and customers.
  1. Reduced risk: SMBs can take more control over security, compliance and disaster recovery in a hybrid cloud storage environment. Hybrid cloud gives IT teams more options to support best practices in backup and reduce recovery time objectives and recovery point objectives. With disaster recovery as a service and backup as a service, IT teams can reduce overall storage costs and improve performance of production storage environments.
  1. Reduced complexity: With a software-defined model, IT teams can use automation and orchestration features in the management platform to streamline deployments, leverage shared resources and utilise the self-service capabilities of cloud environments. Software-defined hybrid storage solutions make scaling much simpler, and overall management is much less of a strain on IT resources—SMBs can have a single person managing the entire storage infrastructure from a single pane of glass.
  1. Ability to future-proof the business: SMBs are subject to the same volatility as larger organisations. Initiatives such as the Internet of Things, big data analytics and digital transformation are disrupting business processes across many industries. By leveraging a hybrid cloud storage platform, SMBs give themselves the best opportunity to maximise their storage investment over the next five years and beyond. The key to maximising hybrid cloud storage is to use a software-defined architecture. As noted by Neuralytix, “SDS provides a flexibility and consistency to span different deployment models with a consistent operational experience.”[2]


SMBs need to focus on the bottom line. They must invest in technologies that help them make more money now, while supporting the business through the unanticipated changes—and challenges—looming on the horizon. Software-defined hybrid cloud storage enables SMBs to improve ROI today with a platform that also prepares them for the future. It’s time to take the next step forward.

[1]SDS: The Road to a Hybrid Cloud Storage Strategy,” Neuralytix, May 2017

[2] Ibid

June 23, 2017  12:54 PM

Improving SAP HANA Performance, Resiliency and Flexibility: It’s a lot easier than you think

Michael Tidmarsh Michael Tidmarsh Profile: Michael Tidmarsh

Early adopters of the SAP HANA in-memory database were stuck with one infrastructure platform option: industry-standard x86 servers. As some of these organisations have discovered the hard way, limited options have left them with limited performance, resiliency and flexibility.

These limitations are becoming problematic for many customers. It’s been more than five years since SAP HANA arrived on the scene, and it is taking on a much more important role in driving innovation and competitive differentiation for many organisations. Some may be new to SAP HANA, while others have older x86 implementations. But wherever they are coming from, organisations need to get more out of their SAP HANA investments.

There is a better way. Companies are no longer confined to using x86 servers for SAP HANA. They can now use more powerful enterprise-grade Linux servers. This is an important development in the evolution of the SAP HANA market. By leveraging more powerful servers, IT teams can boost performance, reliability and flexibility while lowering operational costs.

What kind of an impact can IT make with more powerful servers? Some companies see a price/performance gain of as much as 80% using IBM Power Systems versus servers built on Intel Ivy Bridge EX. They also benefit from twice as many transactions per core, four times as many simultaneous threads per core, and about four times the memory bandwidth.

Cost savings are another benefit. IT can run as many as eight SAP HANA instances on a single server, versus two on an x86 server. This provides a greater ability to run mixed workloads and reduces energy, space and maintenance costs. It also reduces scale-out sprawl for organisations that need to refresh older SAP HANA appliances. There is also more flexibility, particularly when using Tailored Data Center Integration (TDI), which is more versatile than an x86 appliance. With TDI, organisations can maximise the value of existing server, storage and networking assets.

Dispelling the complexity myth

The combination of these benefits leads to better business results, including faster and more accurate insights, better forecasting, improved customer service, greater support for individual lines of business, higher availability and myriad other competitive differentiators. Such gains are particularly important as data growth continues unabated and companies embrace big data analytics as part of their digital transformation endeavors.

As attractive as it may be to maximise the value of SAP HANA, there is still one obstacle some organisations must overcome: the inaccurate belief and unnecessary fear that deploying these more powerful servers—or migrating to them from an x86 appliance—is overly complex and requires resources that many IT teams don’t have.

This is simply not the case. In fact, with the open architecture of IBM Power Systems, combined with the high levels of support customers receive from IBM and SAP, IT teams will discover that once they make the move, they will actually reduce complexity in managing ongoing operations and scaling their deployments. These are the facts:

  • IBM Power Systems use the same Linux interface as x86 appliances, which means that the tasks involved in configuration are very similar.
  • By running SAP HANA on more instances on a single server, IT teams can scale far more easily, without the need to purchase, deploy and manage more hardware.
  • IT can increase physical and virtual capacity on demand through a cloud architecture that enables components to be added without disruption.
  • Greater reliability and resiliency increase availability and productivity, while reducing the amount of time IT teams must devote to troubleshooting and problem resolution.
  • Migrating an existing database is not nearly as difficult as you might imagine, and there is plenty of easily accessible support from SAP and its customers. In fact, IBM and SAP are both leaders in customer support and committed as partners to helping customers accelerate digital transformation with SAP HANA.
  • By using a more powerful, flexible, scalable and resilient server platform, you future-proof your SAP HANA deployment. Your team won’t have to go through a refresh cycle nearly as often, which saves time, hassle and the complexity involved in specifying, purchasing and deploying new systems every few years.


SAP HANA has the potential to be one of the most important drivers of innovation and competitive differentiation—now and in the future. Organisations can get far more value out of their deployments by using a server platform that delivers greater performance, resiliency and flexibility, specifically SAP HANA on IBM Power Systems.

With this solution, organisations can leverage the same architecture that enables top performing high-performance computing applications. SAP HANA on IBM Power Systems not only delivers greater performance, but is also simple to deploy, manage and scale.

If you are holding back from moving to a better platform over concerns about making a change, perhaps it’s time to re-examine things and re-evaluate the risks and rewards. You may find that what you now think of as a risk will actually turn out to be a benefit.

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