Ascendant is a premier IBM business partner and an end to end solution provider and software reseller dedicated to our IBM technology specializing in web-based solutions.
I spoke to Jim Deters, Ascendant's President on our partnership and for a preview on the exciting announcements coming up at IBM Impact in Vegas next month.
Sandy: Ascendant has been a key provider of solutions based on IBM offerings for some time now, can you share with us why this partnership has worked? Jim: The partnership between Atech and IBM works because IBM is producing and delivering world-class and innovative technology that resonates in the marketplace. We in turn take this technology and create solutions and offerings for our customers that help them innovate and drive their business and, in turn, the planet forward. We often call ourselves IBM’s muse. Additionally, the partnership is successful because both Atech and IBM understand how to partner and share common values centered on the customer’s success. In many engagements, we have worked as an extension of one another’s teams, creating the optimal mix of talent and assets from our globally integrated organizations, to deliver for our collective customer.
Sandy: What types of solutions are your customers asking for in light of these challenging economic times? Jim: First, and the most obvious, solutions customers’ are requesting are those that reduce costs. Everyone has to do more with less and this is especially true when it comes to existing IT infrastructure investments – the applications and environments already running. Having deep experience in large, sophisticated WebSphere environments, we created an automation and configuration framework dubbed WICA. WICA is an acronym for WebSphere Installation and Configuration Automation. We were recognized with the SOA Innovation award at last year’s Impact for WICA. In short, it is a framework for reducing costs in SOA and WebSphere environments by automating the management and configuration of the WebSphere Infrastructure. IBM is now OEM’ing the asset and it will be launched as an IBM Rational product at this year’s event.
With WICA in place, we then focus on driving more throughput from the environment – further rationalization of the IT investment by consolidating or extending applications. We are working with many of our WebSphere Portal customers to do just that. We have used WICA to automate and manage the WebSphere Portal infrastructure and are now consolidating legacy and other customer applications onto WebSphere Portal.
After automation and software rationalization, our customers are selectively investing in new initiatives that are strategic to adapting their business to their industry’s changing landscape. We are working heavily in the health care space, both payors and providers. Additionally, we are currently engaged with several Blue Cross Blue Shields across the country to optimize their member portals and create more agile, online business processes. We have created and combined a unique set of capabilities for our customers. By combining user experience architecture, requirements engineering, and business value measurement with an SOA execution, we are helping health care payors align key business metrics to the user’s experience and then ensure end-to-end execution of the solution. The technical solution often encompasses many parts of the IBM platform, including WebSphere Portal, Process Server, Lotus Connection, DataPower, Rational Team Concert and Build Forge.
We are also helping customers across a variety of industries adopt and execute social computing strategies. We are currently working on many corporate communication and collaboration strategies and are creating “internal Facebook-like” solutions, extending online communities to partner communities. Working with a variety of large brands to improve their online shopping experience, we are stressing the importance of “social commerce” applications and strategies in the shopping experience. Commerce is everywhere and the impetus of the “shopping inspiration” usually doesn’t occur on the vendor’s e-commerce site. We are helping customers develop strategies to leverage Facebook, iGoogle widgets, ratings and reviews, and online communities within their WebSphere Commerce implementation.
Sandy: In spite of these challenges, I know that it is a very exciting time right now with the Impact 2009 show almost upon us, Without giving away any big surprises, can you share with us some of the excitement that Ascendant is preparing for the event?
Special note - check out Jim's Video!
Jim: We have a ton in store for Impact that align to the comments above and we are happy to have you get the word out!
First, on the social commerce track, we are doing making several exciting announcements. We will be running a VIP suite (check www.atech.com/IMPACT in coming weeks for the official schedule) to provide an intimate setting to meet and ask a variety of industry, Atech and IBM experts questions. Topics will include.
We have created a strategic partnership with Pluck, a valued IBM partner, and we will be showcasing WebSphere commerce integration through iRise simulations. iRise and Atech are strategically taking to market and entire suite of simulations for IBM software customers. At Lotusphere 2009, we launched a simulation starter for Lotus Connections. At Impact, we are focused on WebSphere Commerce, and specifically WCS and Pluck and a killer “social commerce start store.” Be sure to check out our South Park parody, to be released April 20th! It will be posted to www.atech.com/IMPACT
Industry aligned session for Health Care Payors. We are going to be highlighting our end-to-end capabilities through the eyes of a health care payor. The presentation will start from the very beginning of strategy definition & value measurement, user experience, requirements and process engineering through the technical solution architecture.
The launch of a new asset – the DataPower Automation Framework. Following the patterns of WICA, we have automated Data Power for the management across proxies and as part of an SOA strategy by streamlining the management of a Datapower infrastructure.
Lastly, we will be launching Enterprise Blue ™. Enterprise Blue is our suite of fully-managed, cloud based solutions. Atech and IBM are working closely with Amazon Web Services to help customers get the best of both worlds – all the power of IBM’s enterprise software with the flexibility and low-cost of leveraging Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2).
Jim, thanks for visiting with me on my blog and I can't wait to hear more about Ascendant at IMPACT.
IMPACT is less than two weeks away. Don't miss it.
Sign up here![Read More]
Sandy Carter: Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) -- Off the Record
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We have just launched a promotion to help your Business Partners save money on their Technical Sales Mastery tests. All they need to do is go to an Authorized Prometric Center use the code 20free4me and they will save 20% on any Technical Sales Mastery test they take. This offers expires on September 30, so make sure they get started soon.
For more details, please checkout following website:
Check here for the details![Read More]
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It was a pleasure to meet Peter Segdwick at IMPACT from Primeur! Primeur is a Silver Sponsor at IMPACT 2009! I took a few minutes to chat about how Primeur tools compliment the WS software offerings.
Sandy: Do you offer tools for WMQ file transfer--that work with the new version of WebSphere MQ? Peter: Yes we do. We have had the ability, in our Spazio product, to transfer files over WMQ for a number of years. Now that IBM has introduced WMQ File Transfer Edition, we fully support WMQ FTE as the product of choice for file transfer for WMQ users. We are very excited by WMQ FTE as we see this as a tremendous opportunity for IBM customers to further improve their RoI in their ESB/SOA infrastructure by implementing File Transfer alongside their message based services and applications. Overall, WMQ v7 really has opened up new benefits with its extended Pub/Sub and Managed File Transfer.
Sandy: How are users responding to the offer of your Security toolkit download? In the current economy, do you find that security is still something people are investing in as a primary need for their business?Peter:We have been very encouraged by the increasing interest in Security, both for our toolkit download and for our full function offerings. For a long time, companies have considered that link level security (SSL) is adequate, particularly for internal networks. We are now beginning to see interest in securing data at rest for both messages and files as companies now realise the threat of highly confidential data being compromised even when stored temporarily in queues. Securing data at rest is just one of the functions of End-to-End solutions, along with authentication and digital signatures.
Sandy: Can you tell us a little about the File extensions you've developed for WebSphere? How do your utilities enhance the value of the IBM software?Peter:We at Primeur have developed three extensions for WMQ File Transfer Edition. Our Spazio File Services Governance (Spazio FSG) provides monitoring, audit and reporting not only for FTE but also for all the commonly found Internet (e.g. FTP) and proprietary (e.g. Connect:Direct) file transfer protocols. This means that users can get a single and complete view of all their file transfer flows regardless of the protocols they are using. In capturing the information needed to do this, Spazio FSG also enables users to make productivity improvements of at least 18::1 in converting and modernising from, say, Connect:Direct to FTE. Our Spazio File Services Security Suite provides end-to-end security for messages and files in a WMQ infrastructure, and Spazio MFTS can seamlessly interface an internal FTE network to the outside world using Internet or Proprietary protocols. We will be explaining and demonstrating all of the above at our stand, S1, and also in Session 2287A on Wednesday afternoon where we are jointly presenting with Ben Mann, IBM’s WMQ and WMQ FTE Product Manager.[Read More]
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I have now talked to about 130+ partners! (Thanks for your time and honesty!)
A big request was how partners participate in Smarter Planet references! So IBM has now announced The IBM Smarter Planet Midmarket Business Partner reference selling guide.
This interactive PDF is a great resource for Business Partner references by industry, delivering real-life examples to help you communicate value and accelerate sales. This new guide is easy to use and will be updated quarterly with the most recent Business Partner references to help you talk to your clients and share information about Smarter Planet successes. Here's the link ( You must have your PartnerWorld Id)[Read More]
Big news! First the backdrop, our IBM Payments Framework provides industry specifics with accelerators and best practices, for deploying payments solutions offered by IBM and our business partners.
A new redpaper is now available on ibm.com that describes a business pattern for deploying a Corporate Payments solution using the Payments framework. The paper focuses on corporate treasury operations and how organizations can use SOA to construct solutions for corporate customers. It discusses the issues from both the bank’s and corporate client’s point of view.
It is very good! Check it out!
The REDBOOK! Get it here![Read More]
I had the great pleasure to attend BlogHer for the first time this year. How did I get to attend? A perfect storm really. 3 things happened that allowed me to attend: first, a customer had asked me to support them in their session and to talk about how my book on social media helped them with their strategy, second, I spoke with Charlene Li at the WITI conference and she knew the founders and secured me a ticket and then finally, I was asked to speak on how to leverage social media as the only real IBM presence at the conference.
So what is BlogHer? I pulled this from the BlogHer site. It was founded in February 2005 by Elisa Camahort Page, Jory Des Jardins and Lisa Stone. BlogHer’s mission is to create opportunities for women who blog to pursue exposure, education, community and economic empowerment. BlogHer is the leading participatory news, entertainment and information network for women online and creates opportunities for its members via a community hub (http://blogher.com), annual conferences and a publishing network of more than 2,500 qualified, contextually targeted blog affiliates. BlogHer provides the highest quality content on a range of topics, with all blogs continually edited to meet strict editorial standards, including content quality, category relevance and blog frequency
The Top 10 Ah Ha's 1. The Business BlogHer had a lot of great case studies. While not sold out on the business side, I found the case studies innovative and best practices. I have blogged on the specific case studies that I heard ... Allstate, Tropicana, Pepsi, Sprint, Coach and many others (THE Social Media Blog!.
2. Lots of Geek Labs - Hands on! I love the hands on labs. You could set up a new blog here with step by step instructions to learning HTML and PHP.
3. Networking The conference was setup to network. They did speeddating in a new and innovative way, and arranged the sessions and breaks to stimulate discussion.
4. Community keynote I attend a lot of corporate events and shows. Usually the keynoter is the CEO or GM in charge of the work. While powerful, I have not experienced a more moving and powerful keynote that BlogHer did on Friday night. It was a community keynote where bloggers were selected to read their blog entries. It was amazing. I am glad someone who had been here before told me to make sure I didn't miss it!
5. Swag. Again, going to CeBit or GiTex is an experience and everyone gives away their toys. But I have never seen the swag that was at BlogHer. From products, to free services on site, to designer scarfs, and vendors printers, servers, and phones. If you come, be prepared. This shows me that the vendors view this show as an important way to reach the tippers. One of our competitors was here for Small Business and I saw the bump in blogs on their products in the GB space go up 3x over the last 3 days.
6. Panels. Most of the sessions here were in a set of tracks on Geek Labs, Business, Leadership, Room of your own, Identity and Passions. But most of the sessions were panels. If you don't learn this way, it may not be the way for you!
7. Q&A's are LONG! Another culture here at BlogHer is to learn from a Q&A session. The sessions here are meant for learning not gaining exposure. I would say that in the sessions over 1/2 the time was spent answering questions from the audience.
8. Amazing Women in New Media. The BlogHer team brought out the stars. From Lisa Stone to GM of CBS, to Donna Bryne, etc. This is the place for the new adventurers in the social media world!
9. Purpose I was truly impressed by the purpose that I felt from all these women and men. These guys, while looking to monetize, are truly dedicated to their mission. I heard about blogs on the homeless, soberity, raising disabled kids, traveling, shyness, and the list goes on. Everyone I met loved what they blogged on. A great lesson in you do more of what you love -- for employers getting people into the right roles.
10. Fun I loved it. It was energeric, and fun. It energized me and showed me that one with a purpose can accomplish more than you can imagine! There were over 1999 parties. That's right.. suites to teach photography, small busines skills, word of mouth marketing, silk screening, etc.
Next Year: Next year the conference will be in NYC in August. Will I go? Absolutely.
The Future - Generation C This is the future. Everything is going online. 53% of women WW are online. Generation C -- which I have defined as the next generation who wants to co create, collaboration, and use their creavitiy. They are going to be around for a while. Join the exploration and see what works for you![Read More]
Gang, The PartnerWorld Smarter Planet home page now has been packed full of great deliverables for you on smarter planet! Smarter Planet for our Partners!
In particular an overview deck of the announcement for BPs plus a "why IBM?" brochure which highlights the role of business partners. There are also assets on Campaign Designer plus some of this content is available for content syndication.
Check it out and tell me what else you need!!![Read More]
Here is a whole set of things around Governments becoming more effective that I just learned and wanted to share!!!
IBM has helped the DVLA to become the largest provider of electronic services in the UK public sector and one of Britain's top 10 online retailers. More than 40% of UK motorists now buy their car tax discs online or over the telephone.
IBM leads the International Technology Alliance (ITA) a collaboration with the UK’s MoD and the US Department of Defense/US Army Research Laboratory that is tackling some of the most difficult fundamental science and technology challenges facing our armed forces. ITA in the UK is led by the IBM Emerging Technologies Laboratory in Hursley.
From the middle of 2009, the UK weather forecasts from the Met Office that you hear on the radio and see on your television will be brought to you from an IBM supercomputer. The supercomputer is supported by a new IBM data archive system which holds several petabytes of data and is one of the largest data repositories in the world - that's several million, million megabytes (or if you prefer several million, million, million bytes).
This is the first time in meteorological history that both of Europe's foremost weather forecasting centres - the Met Office and the European Centre for Medium-range Weather Forecasting (ECMWF) - have selected the same supplier . Once operational, they will be the two most powerful systems in the UK and are expected to bring a socioeconomic benefit of hundreds of millions of pounds over the next few years from better forecasting and climate research.
Southwest One, the first shared services joint venture in the country that includes both Police and local authorities, is on target to save the tax payers of Somerset County Council and Taunton Deane Borough Council, £200 million over 10 years and help the Avon and Somerset Police Authority protect and improve front-line policing.
At the UK Border Agency, IBM’s Semaphore system has tracked over 78 million passenger journeys through UK airports since 2005, and has issued over 33,500 alerts to the law enforcement authorities leading to more than 2,700 arrests.
IBM helps to keep the RAF fleet of over 500 aircraft in the air by tracking and controlling over 700,000 repairable assets and confirming that aircraft are serviceable for flight. Since 2004, IBM has helped the RAF protect UK Air Space through a real-time command and control system that at any moment in the day tracks the thousands of commercial and military aircraft in the skies above us, and enables the RAF to intercept any aircraft identified as potentially hostile or posing a terrorist threat.
Every month almost 100,000 MoD civil servants are paid through a system designed, built and supported by IBM. Every year, the Aeronautical Rescue Co-ordination Centre (ARCC) based at RAF Kinloss responds to more than 1,800 Search and Rescue incidents , saving lives through efficient co-ordination of information and assets through IBM Rescue Co-ordination System.
By the middle of 2009, four of the five worldwide top 100 supercomputers operating in the UK will be from IBM. They are at: the European Centre for Medium-range Weather Forecasting (ECMWF), the Met Office, a public sector organisation and Bristol University . The only worldwide top 100 supercomputer in the UK not from IBM, and in third position, is at Edinburgh University.
The Institute of Life Science (ILS) at Swansea University’s School of Medicine is using its IBM supercomputer, Blue C, to unlock unexpected insights from unstructured data - 20 new high quality research papers have been published in just over a year.
Cheshire County Council has achieved a 20% reduction in the time and cost required to perform in-home senior visits , and improved its ability to proactively manage the course of health and social care for senior citizens using a system designed and hosted by IBM.[Read More]
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While in Costa Rica, I had the pleasure of meeting with an innovative team for IT at Credomatic. Their leader & CTO, Alfonso Salvo, approaches the business with a focus on value.
Who is Credomatic? The company is a leader in Central America. Credomatic began its operations in Nicaragua in 1971. Subsequently, it expanded throughout Central America as the pioneer in the bankcard industry, forming Grupo Credomatic, a network of service providers of integrated credit card issuing and merchant acquiring services. The development of financial products and services combined with quality, state-of-the-art technology and experience has given Grupo Credomatic a leadership position in the Central American financial market. As one of the signature brands within the BAC Financial Network, Grupo Credomatic has been able to successfully adapt to changes in the competitive environment, thereby consolidating its leadership position in the payment systems industry in Central America. Grupo Credomatic has an extensive network of financial institutions across Central America, the Caribbean and Miami.
A wow team! What impressed me most about the team is their focus on the business. Their projects include Business Process Management. And a new exploration of Social Media. Watch this company for some best practices and leading IT practices!
Meet the team! [Read More]
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IBM, also known as Big Blue, is as big and distributed as any company in the IT industry. In fact, you could say IBM is the New York City of technology companies. Huge. Diverse. Proud to call itself No. 1, though not everyone may agree. And just as the Big Apple often sets trends for the rest of the country, Big Blue has a history of calling plays for the tech market. These days, IBM is heavily promoting its Smarter Planet initiative to add a layer of intelligence to the basic processes that run today’s world, including roads, water and power. It’s just the latest milestone for the 98-year-old company. Here is a list of things you just might not know about IBM.
A nice list of IBM's achievements: Check to read full article from eweek here![Read More]
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I am here in Costa Rica meeting with our Partner GBM and customers and had the honor of being able to meet the President of Costa Rica -- Oscar Arias Sanchez. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1987 for his efforts to end civil wars in Central American countries. He is an amazing man well versed in IT.
Along with Gabriela Llobet, they gave us an overview of IT in Costa Rica. There are over 700 software companies here with over 10.6% of the country's GDP coming from ICT. Given they do not fund an army they invest in training and technology. They are the #1 high technology exporter in Latin American and the 4th largest in the world. They receive about $1.9B foreign investment in IT -- more than China, Brazil or Mexico.
They are super creative and technology focused. I was very impressed with the customers and partner I met here. In addition, I sat with Dr Roberto Sasso. He has helped Costa Rica with a digital strategy.Check it out!http://www.clubdeinvestigacion.com/
And their Minister of Foreign Trade is on twitter! That's right! Social Media insight abounds! Follow Marco Vinicio Ruiz at twitter.com/maviru.
I will blog and post pictures for my next post on Costa Rica...not at midnight![Read More]
IBM Receives the 2009 ACORD Innovation Implementation Award & ACORD Infrastructure Platform/Middleware Award
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YEA! IBM Receives the 2009 ACORD Innovation Implementation Award & ACORD Infrastructure Platform/Middleware Award
The yearly ACORD award recognizes organizations that are implementing XML standards in unique and exceptional ways and organizations that enhance the utilization of ACORD Standards. The IBM team continued the 2008 award winning tradition with a Proof of Technology and Redbook that demonstrate implementation best practices for Insurance companies. With these best practices, IBM customers can deploy end to end SOA Solutions based on Industry Standards in ACORD and the IBM Insurance Process Acceleration Framework.
Smart Work is about transforming companies to make informed decisions, build deeper relationships and work with more agile business processes. The Strategy & Technology team has established SOA as the state of the art for Smart Insurance at ACORD. With our customers, we continue to raise the bar on ACORD implementations and Smart Work.
What should you do?
First, Download this redbook !
Second, see the great Showcase!!!
Finally, I'd like to thank Donald Buddenbaum, Brian Bokor, Qiang Wang, Bruce Wallman Ph.D., Stephanie Fetzerand Rufus Credle who made this valueable work possible![Read More]
Rocket Software is focused on developing and delivering software solutions to IBM mainframe customers deploying IBM DB2. In the first five years all of Rocket's products were rebranded and licensed to enterprises through IBM's worldwide sales channel. Rocket Software will be at IBM IMPACT 2009 and Sam Elias provides a preview about the benefits of SOA and IBM's Destination z community.
Sandy Carter: Seagull Software – now a Rocket Software brand – offers some exciting SOA solutions in the marketplace. Tell me how Rocket Software has helped customers realize the benefits of SOA to meet their needs to reuse and extend existing applications.Sam Elias:. SOA matches up with what our customers are looking for. We have a history of helping our customers at any point in their SOA adoption lifecycle. What’s attractive to our customers is that we allow their existing business applications to participate in whatever their SOA strategy is — in a non-invasive, cost-effective, and timely way. Our LegaSuite software [now a Rocket Software product] allows organizations to generate scalable solutions, such as new user interfaces and Web services, from their portfolio of existing business applications. This delivers many benefits to customers in all types of industries, from improving call center productivity to enabling customer self-service to integrating business applications both inside and outside the enterprise.
Sandy: As part of IBM's focus on Solutions for a Smart Planet, can you explain how Rocket’s LegaSuite software delivers smart solutions for customers requiring a dynamic infrastructure.
Sam:. Regardless of the size and breadth of the organization, integrating critical business infrastructure in a flexible, secure and seamless way is a challenge that all customers face. One example of this is in the financial sector with our banking customers. As banks are acquired and merged together, there are a common set of services that are used as part of the core application infrastructure. In conjunction with infrastructure platforms such as IBM WebSphere, Rocket’s LegaSuite software provides a cost-effective solution that allows customers to transition these changing (or dynamic) infrastructures seamlessly as application portfolio requirements change. We've used this SOA approach to help several banking customers avoid downtime as they transition to online banking services with limited to no disruption of service.
Sandy: Rocket Software is a longstanding member of IBM's Destination z community. Can you explain why this is important to Rocket?
Sam:. System z is key to many of Rocket's solutions, including LegaSuite. As a founding member of Destination z and a leading provider of System z solutions for the marketplace, it is imperative for us to play a leadership role in strengthening the market awareness of System z and the ecosystem of solutions available for this enterprise platform. Our customers benefit from the community and network of resources available through the Destination z programs, and the better we are connected through the IBM and partner channels the better we can serve and provide solutions for our customers' requirements.
Sandy: IBM recently made a preview announcement for CICS TS V4.1 and there will be further announcements at Impact. Why is this exciting news for Rocket and your customers?
Sam: We’re really excited about CICS 4.1, and it shows that IBM continues to "hit the mark" by being at the forefront of the latest technologies. CICS 4.1 is important for all of our enterprise customers because it continues to show that CICS is the state-of-the-art deployment platform for their mission critical applications. This is a constant challenge for the CICS architecture teams in many organizations as they continually compete with other platforms to remain strategic for the organization. From a solution perspective, Rocket Software has solutions in our portfolio that customers will be able to leverage from day one to take advantage of the new features of CICS 4.1. The new enhancements around Web 2.0 and event-driven architecture give customers greater flexibility and insight around their core business applications or ‘services’ that they rely on to run their business.
Great insights! Thank you, Sam. I am looking forward to meeting you at IBM Impact 2009 in Vegas next month.
Check out Rocket Software at the IMPACT Solution Center, E16 or virtually at IBM's IMPACT site http://www-01.ibm.com/software/websphere/events/impact2009/