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How to get thrown out of IBM Pulse 2012

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Well, I’m back from IBM Pulse 2012 and I’m only partially recovered. However, I thought I’d let you know some of the amazing things I saw and heard there while they’re fresh in what passes for my mind.

Sunday, 5:15 p.m. Session 2287: How Can You Affect the Development of Tivoli Products?

I yelled out answers such as “A letter writing campaign!” and “Demonstrating outside of IBM Headquarters!” before they shushed me, but it turns out that the answer is quite a bit nicer and doesn’t require a Guy Fawkes mask. IBM Tivoli (like IBM Rational) is now performing much of its development right out in the open – you can go to Rational Team Concert and see the roadmap, vote on the features to add to each product, and report problems. All of the magic happens on the Service Management Connect (https://www.ibm.com/developerworks/servicemanagement/) website!

Sunday, 6:30 p.m. Session 2128: Pulse Solution Expo Grand Opening & Welcome Reception

This was indeed a grand opening! 92,000 square feet of stuff (which sounds much more impressive than “8,547 square meters”) – around 100 IBM Business Partner exhibitor booths, over 100 IBM exhibition pedestals, several theater areas, a “meet the experts” area, an executive meeting center, and of course a wonderful cafe area.

There was far too much there to describe it all, but some of the highlights for me were:

  • At the IBM SmartCloud Provisioning (http://www-01.ibm.com/software/tivoli/products/smartcloud-provisioning/) pedestal, you could see virtual machines provisioned in (literally) seconds, and could get a USB memory key that contained the entire IBM SmartCloud Provisioning product, which you could boot and play with. There was also a hands-on lab where you could play with IBM SmartCloud Provisioning (and other products, including IBM SmartCloud Entry) in depth.
  • I got to talk in person with a number of colleagues from the IBM Service Delivery Manager, Tivoli Service Automation Manager, and Tivoli Usage and Accounting Manager (TUAM) booths – all IBM SmartCloud foundation products that we used inside IBM to create a private cloud for our own use.
  • Several of the booths were showcasing products to help with DevOps. DevOps was a big topic at Pulse 2012 – expect to hear quite a bit more about DevOps and how IBM products can help implement processes around DevOps principles.
  • Mobile applications were big, of course, with many booths showing products that allow control from mobile devices or present on mobile devices.
  • There was even a transparent mainframe on display! I asked, and I’m sorry to say that this is not an orderable option at this point in time. But if you think mainframes aren’t important in cloud, think again – Tivoli Service Automation Manager can provision Linux on System z guests just as easily as Linux on xSeries.

Trust me – I’m a better cloud architect than photographer.

I started collecting T-shirts from the booths, but people began pointing and laughing when I put on the tenth one. Next year perhaps I’ll put them into a bag instead of wearing them all.

Monday, 10:00 a.m. Session 2154: Cloud and Data Center Optimization Stream Keynote

This, of course, is my favorite topic right now and the session didn’t disappoint. With members from IBM, Kroger, and American Greetings, the panel discussed applications of cloud computing, including how fishers in Italy use cloud technologies to sell their catch while still out on the water. Check it out by clicking Cloud and Data Center Optimization at http://www-01.ibm.com/software/tivoli/pulse/library/ . They did not actually serve fish at this keynote, however, which I thought was a little misleading.

Monday, 1:30 p.m. Session 1687: IBM’s Experiences in Building and Delivering a Public Cloud

If you’re interested in being a cloud service provider, this presentation gave a great overview of some of what’s involved. I’ll warn you, though – it’s a little harder to be a cloud service provider than IBM SmartCloud Enterprise makes it look from the outside!

Tuesday, 2:00 p.m. Session 2267: Cybersecurity

This was one of the “meet the experts” sessions, which means you can sit at a round table with IBM experts on various subjects and ask questions. We all quickly agreed that we didn’t know exactly what the definition of “cybersecurity” was, but that it certainly sounded impressive. More seriously, we discussed advanced persistent threats (APTs), spear-phishing attacks, distributed denial of service attacks, and others. I think the real reason that cybersecurity is popular at this point is that with things like Stuxnet and other high-profile hacks, people are actually seeing computer security as something that directly affects the real world now and not just the geeks.

Interestingly enough, although I find IBM spam filters to be pretty good, earlier the same day I had gotten a message from UPS CampusShip with an invoice for my recent shipment. Because I had recently shipped something, I opened the HTML file – and then it tried to download and run an EXE file, which of course I did not allow. So, although I consider myself a security expert, this one almost got me – the message looked exactly like other UPS CampusShip notifications, and it even connected to my-ups.com (which of course is not run by UPS). If the attackers had used a local HTML exploit, it probably would have worked – which is perhaps why I wasn’t one of the experts in this session. I have to give the spammers kudos for timeliness, though.

Tuesday, 6:30 p.m. Session 2129: Pulse Palooza

Calling this a session is good for putting on the expense report, but it was really just a great party with an exclusive performance by Maroon 5. Also, an open bar and entire tables full of candy!

Wednesday, 9:00 a.m. Session 2132: General Session Day 3

All of the general sessions were good, but I found the interview with Steve Wozniak really fascinating. I think one of the most interesting things I heard was that Woz originally thought that almost everyone would learn to program – and when you had a problem, you could just sit down and program a solution to it. The idea that everyone would start selling pre-packaged, “factory-produced” software really wasn’t obvious at that point, which is amazing to think about today. He also talks about the early days at Apple, Steve Jobs, and absolutely refuses to admit that he might have an iPad 3 ahead of release. Check it out at http://www-01.ibm.com/software/tivoli/pulse/library/ (Woz’s interview begins at 56:50).

Wednesday, 11:00 a.m. Session 1066: IBM CIO Internal Cloud Strategy, Use and Experience

By far the best session at this conference, and perhaps the best ever in human history. I might be slightly biased because I was one of the presenters, however. Steve Uniack and I took the audience through the different cloud initiatives active in IBM – Analytics, Collaboration, Desktop, Storage, Production, and my personal favorite, the Dev/Test Cloud. Inside IBM, using the CIO Dev/Test Cloud we’ve managed to get server setup down from five days to one hour – and have driven real behavioral change in that developers no longer keep servers around for months or years that are only used occasionally. With the cloud, the developers can trash the instance when it’s no longer needed and click a few buttons later to get it back.

Wednesday, 2:00 p.m. Session 2140: DevOps Design for Deployment and Operations at Citi

Citi is using IBM products to allow a developer to spin up entire test environments in the cloud, connect the instances together, and deploy the code on those servers as quickly as clicking the “build” button. With this feature, developers can see the code active in “real world” environments with minimal effort!

Summary

This isn’t an exhaustive list – I attended many other great sessions before being caught and escorted out by security for taking too many T-shirts. If I met you at Pulse, it was a pleasure meeting you! If not, I hope to see you there next year!

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