A recap of IBM SmartCloud Live 2013 in Melbourne

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In an earlier blog post, “Cloud value: I don’t know how she does it – Part 1,” I mentioned that “Cloud can solve complex IT problems immaculately and handle turbulent business challenges with dexterity.” I concluded the series of three blogs by stating, “It is high time to consider cloud computing to reinvent business, be competitive and sustain in today’s challenging business world.”

Well, these statements become more evident after attending the IBM SmartCloud Live 2013 event in Melbourne and hearing firsthand from IBM thought leaders, clients, IBM Business Partners and analysts on a variety of cloud topics related to IT and business.

In this blog post, I will offer highlights of the event and sessions that I attended. SmartCloud Live 2013 was IBM’s hallmark cloud event of the year in Australia. It attracted a broad audience from business and IT who participated in interactive dialogue with IBM Cloud experts. The key message of the event was “Leverage cloud to reinvent your business.”

Andrew Stevens, Managing Director, IBM Australia and New Zealand

In his welcome speech, IBM Australia and New Zealand Managing Director Andrew Stevens mentioned why businesses today need to leverage cloud in this digitized world to gain a competitive advantage. Analyst reports and research have shown the advantages of cloud in transforming business models to sustain against fierce competition, enable innovations and facilitate faster time to market. IT and business leaders of organizations need to make the right decision to include technologies like cloud, mobile, big data and analytics to drive innovations and improve productivity. He stated that “This is not about technology, this is about leadership.” He urged businesses to act now as companies who are late to make the right decision may not survive in the competition.

Will Duckworth, Consulting Services Leader, IBM Global Business Services, Australia

Will Duckworth presented the opportunities arising from cloud computing as a driver of business transformations. The key takeaway from his presentation, “The Silver Lining: Reinvent your business with cloud,” was that in the era of smart, success will be driven by how well enterprises harness the power of technology to deliver unique value to customers with speed and efficiency. With research and analytics data, trends and examples, he illustrated how cloud computing as the new IT delivery model can transform businesses today. Mobile, social, big data and analytics can all relate to cloud computing and holistically deliver better efficiency and productivity gain. This reminds me of the key summary from IDC 2013 Technology Forecast.

“The ICT industry is in the midst of a once every 20-25 years shift to a new technology platform for growth and innovation. We call it the 3rd Platform, built on mobile devices and apps, cloud services, mobile broadband networks, big data analytics and social technologies.”

Technologies are changing at a very fast pace and as such it is imperative for organizations to adopt technologies to deliver better values for customers. Even the monopolies are considering adopting or have already adopted cloud computing to maintain their market dominance and offer innovative products. Will provided the example of Adobe offering cloud- based tools for graphics design (Adobe Creative Cloud). Users need not pay hefty license fees as in traditional desktop-based applications. Rather, they would pay monthly subscription fees to access the tools from any Internet connected devices. His was a thought-provoking session showing the need for cloud computing.

Following Will’s session, there was an interesting panel discussion called “Harnessing the Transformational Power of Cloud” moderated by Chris Morris, Associate Vice President, IDC Asia/Pacific. The panelists were:

  • Denis Curran, Head of Technology Strategy and Innovation, Enterprise Service and Transformation, National Australia Bank
  • Wal Williams, Business Manager, Cloud Services, Avnet Technology Solutions
  • Paul Chester, General Manager, Kalibrate

Chris Morris, Associate Vice President, IDC Asia/Pacific

It was evident from the panel discussion that cloud is not all about lowering the cost of IT operations. Cloud computing provides agility, scalability, efficiency, faster time to market and allows for expanding the business. Each of the panelists shared their views on how their organizations are considering cloud computing for strategic growth and transforming their business models. These organizations have been able to leverage cloud computing successfully to improve productivity gain, spur innovations and expand their businesses.

The panel also discussed inhibitors to cloud adoption and risk factors. Security concerns are one of the biggest perceived inhibitors for cloud adoption. However, many organizations fail to understand that cloud solutions provided by companies like IBM are equipped with great innovations and the smartest technologies, which are not available in conventional data centers. It was interesting to hear from Paul Chester, who compared robust security offered by IBM Cloud offerings to that of Alcatraz.

Denis Curran, Wal Williams and Paul Chester (from left to right)

He also compared the security offered from traditional data centers to that of a country jail. This analogy was to show that cloud offers better security than traditional IT. Business leaders need to overcome their fear of cloud security and consider it to be agile, flexible and innovative.

There were six booths of cloud SMEs in the foyer area, known as the IBM Cloud Expert Zone. These six booths addressed:

  1. Cloud strategy
  2. Your DIY cloud
  3. Managed Cloud Services
  4. Business software as a service (SaaS) solutions
  5. Migrating to cloud
  6. Partnering with IBM SmartCloud

After morning tea and networking in the Cloud Expert Zone, there were three different streams to choose from:

  1. Business Consideration Stream
  2. Technology Consideration Stream
  3. Managed Services Providers (MSP) Stream & Independent Software Vendors (ISV)

I chose the technology consideration stream, which was divided into three different presentations.

Technology Consideration Stream

It was great to hear firsthand from Tom Fifield, Community Manager of OpenStack. He took the audience through the OpenStack mission statement and its open source cloud offering that enables cloud solutions running on standard hardware and software in his presentation called “Open for Business.” Open standards will facilitate easy integration of cloud products from different vendors and eliminate the risk of vendor lock-in. IBM is a platinum sponsor of the OpenStack Foundation.

The next session was “Making OpenStack work for you,” by Andrew Yu, Technical Sales, Software Group, IBM A/NZ and Chris Frost, Service Management Solution Architect, IBM A/NZ. This presented how IBM is adding value to OpenStack by allowing clients to quickly combine and deploy various cloud services by lining up the compute, storage and network resources with an easy to use graphical interface that supports the use of architectural patterns. This will save time and money while increasing flexibility.

The last session was about cloud security by Neil Readshaw, Global Chief Security Architect, IBM Cloud Managed Services. Neil’s presentation “Security in the Cloud – You’re not alone” showed how organizations can successfully move their applications and data to private and public cloud environments while maintaining an acceptable risk posture.

Clients, business partners and IBM experts engaged in discussion during the networking lunch in the IBM Cloud Expert Zone. The audience had opportunities to ask additional questions and get further useful information during this period.

With this, the exciting and long-awaited IBM SmartCloud Live 2013 event concluded. If you need more information about IBM Cloud offerings, please look at the IBM SmartCloud website.

Remember, it is time to act now and see how you can leverage cloud to reinvent your business. You need to decide how you want to position yourself in the cloud ecosystem. Do you want to see your organization as a pacesetter, a challenger or a chaser? IBM Global Cloud study will provide you some food for thought.

Senior Managing Consultant at GBS Cloud Centre of Competence

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