The Business Is in the Cloud

Business Intelligence
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IBM i on Power is now ready to be an ideal cloud server once people have prepared themselves to jump into cloud services.


With COMMON behind us, it's clear that there are four major trends coursing through the industry: mobile, social, cloud, and big data. It's also clear that IBM i is well-positioned to take its rightful place in the center of these emerging trends.


The latest technology refresh for IBM i, to be available May 18, will provide IBM i OS servers with the ability to do live partition mobility. This was the final piece needed in giving the platform the tools to be an awesome cloud server. And from what I can see, the business is in the cloud.


As yet, IBM i-based companies have held off moving to the cloud. What they're concerned about, I think, is moving to someone else's cloud. Look, if your system has Web access, it's vulnerable to someone hacking into it. Do you really think your security skills and procedures are better than those of cloud providers IBM, Verizon, or Connectria? Yes, you're a small fish in a big pond, and, hopefully, no one is ever going to try to hack your system. A cloud service provider, on the other hand, represents a bigger prize. We all know how many attempts are made every day to hack into the Department of Defense—it's about 100 a day. Businesses in the U.S. already lose $54 billion a year to fraud, while worldwide, identity theft costs them some $221 billion annually, according to IBM's X-Force end-of-2011 report. The problem is not the cloud; the problem is inadequate security—everywhere. Fact: the online world is dangerous.


The catch is, online is where the business is and where it will continue to be in the future. Why? Because it's so much less expensive to do business online that people can't afford not to be there. Also, the market reach is so much greater than any other vehicle that the sales opportunities are unlimited. Forecasters have predicted that businesses are going to have to be doing business online or, eventually, they will not be doing business at all.


So the IBM i community needs to get online—not just on the Web, which, for the most part, it already is, but in the cloud, right in the middle of the fuzzy stuff. The IBM i server makes an ideal cloud server, and that opens up all kinds of possibilities. Whether used as an internal, public, or hybrid cloud, the server itself represents a potential profit center to many different kinds of businesses.


For ISVs, the opportunity is obvious. But even if you're using your Power Systems exclusively for your internal needs, consider sharing the services you consume with another business that also needs them. Just because you're in the trucking business doesn't mean you can't offer additional route-planning services on the side to others in the business. They may turn around and help you out in ways you didn't expect. Sure, there are those individuals with whom we wouldn't want to share, but in the long run, we may be better off supporting each other with services than playing hard ball and competing in a vain effort to drive each other out of the market.


The business concepts that are emerging from the cloud, social networking, and mobile access suggest that trying to get things done entirely by ourselves is slow and outmoded. We can do things faster, generate more business overall, and be more agile if we're part of a much larger network, part of a crowd that is available to help us get the answers we need in order to move forward to where we want to go. Staying on course means having the data generated by the crowd at our fingertips, thus the interest in big data.


At the center of providing these services—cloud services—and processing this generated data will be a computer that is powerful, flexible, reliable, and scalable. A number of choices are out there. Does any single one come to mind? Yes, IBM i on Power. It's your friend and provider that's been running your business for years, and it can be your protector and business partner as you move forward into the cloud. The key is having expert security knowledge and support. As a friend of mine used to tell me as I was hunched over my computer, holed up in a spare bedroom: "Chris, the business is out there, not in here!" And today, the business is in the cloud, so we might as well put on our jump suits.