Impact 2010 update with Andy Piper

Ray Kurzweil decides it time to rewrite the out-of-date human genetic software


developerWorks: This is a developerWorks podcast. I'm Scott Laningham. IBM's Andy Piper is at Impact 2010 going on this week in Las Vegas, USA, and he's nice enough to make time to give us an update on what's happening at this IBM WebSphere and Business Process Management-centric event.

Andy, how are you doing?

Piper: I'm really well, Scott. How are you?

developerWorks: I'm great.

Gosh, this conference has grown so much in its scope and there's so much to talk about now. Can you even get your hands around it anymore?

Piper: Right, so yeah, absolutely. It's come from the kind of WebSphere brand event for Software Group, but I think that the conference's tagline is the premier conference for business and IT leaders and we've got, as well as all of the technical content around the WebSphere brand and the stuff that IBM is doing in application middleware, we've also got this year a track for the Forbes Business Leadership Forum.

So for sure, there's a lot of focus on interesting topics of interest to business people, as well as looking at the technology on the SOA and BPM stuff that we're putting in place around that.

developerWorks: Now what about this year? What are the key themes that are standing out to you this year?

Piper: Well this year has been some great stuff. We've had some really nice presentations in the general sessions. We've had IBM's Steve Mills, obviously the leader of our software division. He gave a really good overview on Monday of the history and the evolution of our SOA and BPM over the last decade.

And this morning, Rob High, one of our Fellows, gave a really good presentation, which followed on from what Steve had to say but looked at it from a technology level. He kind of showed how we've come from the SOA foundation, the smart SOA stuff we were talking about, moving much more up to business agility.

So there's a lot of stuff about the ILOG product, the business rules, the ability to respond to change. There's a lot of stuff about elastic and virtual cloud environments, so cloud computing is really huge.

We had some big announcements this morning and some demos from Jerry Cuomo showing the new WebSphere CloudBurst appliance.

There's been some new DataPower releases. There's a new DataPower appliance, which is a caching device ... I think it's the XE 10 ... which sits at the edge of the network. And it's working with the department of Akamai. So WebSphere is going to be very closely aligned with the Akamai technology for doing edge caching and enabling customers to scale out.

I mean, there's just so much to talk about. So many things to look at.

developerWorks: You know, that agile, highly adaptive information technology, that's really at the core of all this from conference to the next these days, isn't it?

Piper: Absolutely. We've made some big announcements about acquisitions as well this week. So actually, at the beginning of the year we announced that we'd acquired Lombardi, so we're bringing a lot more human-centric business process management to our story. So that's really exciting. There's lots of interest. I've been talking to people over lunch and on the solution center floor about the Lombardi product, the WebSphere Lombardi edition that we've just announced.

What else have we got? We've just announced as well this week and it's getting a lot of interest from the analysts, we've announced that we're planning to acquire a company called Cast Iron who do lots of stuff to do with integrating up fee cloud services on an appliance, which is really exciting as well. So welcoming them to the IBM family.

developerWorks: Andy, what about big name speakers at the conference? There's always, of course, key IBM execs that you get to hear of. Thought leaders within and without IBM. But Dr. Kurzweil, I know you mentioned was there. You heard him this morning. Is that right?

Piper: That's right. He was the close out speaker for the general sessions. Amazing. When I first learned I was coming to Impact this year, that was the thing I was looking forward to the most.

developerWorks: Yes, he's such a fascinating thinker. Can you share a little bit about what he was talking about this time?

Piper: Yes, he gave a great presentation talking about the acceleration of technology in this 21st century. He was really talking and showing us how quickly technology has accelerated and grown. And how companies like Google and Facebook and Twitter have really just emerged from nowhere, or seemingly nowhere, in the course of the last decade or even the last few years.

Really democratizing, really quite disruptive technologies. He was also talking about how, he made a funny comment though that made me smile, about how our human body software, our genome, we've understood it now. We've analyzed the human genome. We've written it down. But it's out of date. [LAUGHTER]

Evolution created it millions of years ago and he was saying there are these genes that encourage our body to store fat cells and things because we might not be able to hunt a mammoth tomorrow. But nowadays we've got a slightly better control over our environment, so maybe it's time that some of our internal software was rewritten or needed some modification. So that was really cool.

And one thing that he said that really spoke to me, that I Tweeted myself actually, was that the goals of technology and the goals of our tools — and technology is just a tool of the human race, right — is to really extend our reach.

The way he put it was just the same way that when a man first picked up a stick to reach a branch a bit higher. That's what technology is. We are always using it to improve our condition. So, I found that fascinating.

developerWorks: Andy, before you go I wanted to ask you too about, I know there are a number of innovative big things that are going on at the conference and around the conference, and one of them is this social aggregation tool on the Impact 2010 Web site. Can you talk about that a little bit?

Piper: Yes. The guys running the social media for the event, Steve Lazarus and the team, they've done a fantastic job. So, they've come up with this concept called Social at IBM Impact 2010. So you can go to And what you get there is a nice aggregated view of everything that's been Tweeted about, being blogged about that's using the IBM Impact hash tag.

And if you're not seeing anything, right, you've got to register on the site for your content to be aggregated there. But it's a really nice dashboard and landing point for you just to see immediately who's blogging, who's Tweeting, what's of interest. You can divide it up by speakers and partners. You can look at all the photos and videos that are coming out as well. And there's a Trending Topics tag cloud. I'm just looking at that now and I can see that for today that we really focused more on the cloud and the SOA side of things. And those topics are coming straight out of the tag cloud at me so that's very cool.

developerWorks: Very neat.

Piper: There's another thing, actually, which is worth mentioning. Earlier in the week we announced the new Innovate game. We have this Innovate kind of brand of serious games going for a couple of years now. And last year we had the Innovate 2.0 that we launched. This year we launched the INNOV8: CityOne game, which isn't available yet on the website, but I think it's coming in the fall.

And that's going to be a really nice serious game for helping people to apply some of the concepts we talk about when we look at Smarter Cities and a Smarter Planet, to city management, say. Phaedra Boinodiris has done a brilliant job of that and there's some great stuff out there in the blogosphere if you want to read more about it.

developerWorks: IBM's Andy Piper at Impact 2010 in Las Vegas. Thanks for the time, Andy.

Piper: You're welcome, Scott. Glad to speak to you again.

developerWorks: Get more information at This has been a developerWorks podcast. I'm Scott Laningham.

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ArticleTitle=Impact 2010 update with Andy Piper