Category Archives: Reports

Intel’s Earnings: The Importance of Diversification

By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc.  October 31, 2018

The purported old Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times” is occasionally apropos for the technology sector and some vendors. Over the past few months, the times have been particularly interesting and painful for Intel.

That began with the surprise exit of CEO Brian Krzanich whose resignation was requested by Intel’s board of directors after an internal probe found that he had engaged in a consensual relationship with a subordinate, which the company said violated its anti-fraternization policy. Since then, Intel shares have trended steadily downward until last week’s quarterly (Q3 2018) earnings report reenergized buyers.

The sources of Intel’s good fortunes, along with some unexpected bad news from competitors, is worth further consideration. Continue reading

Intel, Rolls Royce and the Voyage to Autonomous Shipping

By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc.  October 17, 2018

Over the past decade or so, the IT industry has been in the thrall of what might be called the iPhone Effect, where vendors promote new technologies to consumers first, no matter how well or badly suited they are to consumer and home use cases. The strategy makes a certain sense given the impact Apple’s iPhone made—creating an essentially new market for web-enabled apps and content that eventually forced businesses to contend with mobility-obsessed employees via Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) initiatives and other efforts.

The problem is that other promising technologies have had serious problems in trying to catch the iPhone’s lightning in a bottle. So, strategies centering on consumer-focused products, like IoT (through Smart Home devices and services) and virtual reality (for home entertainment), have often faltered, sullying the reputations of the technologies and players involved. Some others—self-driving consumer cars are a good example—are growing in fits and starts, with vendors vying for position in markets that are years away from being commercially sustainable.

On the other hand, business-focused solutions leveraging many of these same technologies are proceeding apace. Industry-specific IoT and VR solutions are readily available, and autonomous systems for commercial transportation are evolving quickly. Why is that the case? Partly because enterprises are willing to invest in a new technology when they believe it can offer significant, even profound business benefits.

A good example is this week’s announcement from Intel and Rolls-Royce concerning the latter’s Ship Intelligence platforms and Intelligent Awareness System solutions for commercial shipping. The solution uses AI-enabled sensor-fusion and decision-making capabilities powered by Intel’s Xeon and 3D NAND-technologies to increase the intelligence, efficiency and safety of commercial ships. The two companies also believe that the Intelligent Awareness System will provide the foundation for future autonomous shipping systems.

Let’s consider this further. Continue reading

IBM Deepens/Widens its Commitment to Open Technologies

By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc.  October 17, 2018

That open technologies are still evolving and succeeding some two decades after the emergence of the pioneer Open Source Initiative and early commercial Linux distributions qualifies as, at the very least, a small miracle. Not only did open source products and standards challenge the orthodoxy of leading, seemingly indomitable vendors but many of those companies, including Microsoft, considered open source to be explicitly subversive and dangerous.

On the other hand, some vendors recognized and successfully exploited the potential value that open technologies offered to largely or entirely proprietary platforms. Those efforts were not without controversy. For example, IBM raised more than a few eyebrows by announcing that it would not just support Linux distributions but that the first platform to do so would be the company’s signature mainframe systems.

IBM’s open commitment didn’t begin and end with the mainframe. Over the past two decades, the company has continued to plow significant energy and billions of investment dollars into creating, developing and supporting a wide variety of open technology platforms and initiatives.

This week’s launch of IBM’s new AI OpenScale platform, its Multi-Cloud Manager and Security Connect services find the company breaking significant new ground while following a long familiar open technologies path. Let’s consider these new offerings and their implications for IBM and the broader market. Continue reading

How Lenovo’s Strategic Partnerships Help Data Center Customers Evolve

By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc.  October 10, 2018

Strategic partnerships between IT vendors have existed for decades, and mostly followed conventional synergistic pitches: By combining the products/expertise of vendors A and B, you can get C, or even D or E.

Twenty years ago, those relationships mainly consisted of system vendors and specialty ISVs of various sizes and kinds. But the continuing rise of Intel x86-based servers changed the balance due to customers adopting Intel x86-based servers and their corresponding moves from proprietary operating environments, like HP’s HP-UX and Sun Microsystems’ Solaris to Microsoft Windows Server and Linux distributions.

Further shifts occurred with the appearance of once unimaginable (or, at least, unimaginably expensive), increasingly available and affordable technologies. Those included in-memory applications, hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) solutions, and hybrid cloud computing operating environments, like Nutanix’s Enterprise Cloud OS.

Those changes required and inspired strategic partnerships to evolve, as well. Recent announcements by Lenovo about its longstanding relationships with Microsoft and SAP show how one vendor is pursuing those developments to its own, its partners’ and its customers’ betterment. Continue reading

IBM Watson Sparks Agricultural Innovation

By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc.  October 3, 2018

It’s no surprise that artificial Intelligence (AI) inspires reams of press releases and media coverage these days. The fact is that a confluence of IT trends and achievements have made AI more achievable and affordable than ever before.

At the same time, it’s wise to remember that companies’ announcements typically mirror their specific, if sometimes limited, talents and skills. So, in the case of AI, silicon vendors might focus on the importance of their products in machine learning performance. Or AI software vendors may tout the value their frameworks, algorithms and models bring to the AI table.

That’s all to the good since artificial intelligence is a very large pool with space for lots of talent. But keenly focusing on myriad, smaller elements often makes the AI market resemble the proverb of the blind men and the elephant. Do any vendors see, understand and effectively build out the bigger picture of AI? Absolutely, including IBM.

Broadly speaking, the company’s work in AI  goes back decades. But those efforts cover numerous of focus areas and specific vertical use cases. For example, IBM recently announced new Watson AI toolsets pretrained for nine industries and professions, including the Watson Decision Platform for Smarter Farms. Let’s look at that solution and consider how IBM’s work in global agriculture reflects its AI strategy and tactical plans. Continue reading

IBM – Prying Open the “Black Box” of AI with Trust and Transparency

By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc.  September 26, 2018

There are numerous reasons for IT industry vendors’ interest in and focus on artificial intelligence (AI) solutions and services. Though it has long been a goal for scientists and engineers of every stripe, advancements in foundational technologies have finally made AI commercially viable. Equally important is how AI can complement and support the solution of increasingly complex, thorny problems, meaning that it can be applied in numerous technical, industry, workplace and consumer scenarios.

In other words, effective AI-based solutions can be developed, and there’s plenty of work to be done. While that’s great news, critical AI-related trust and transparency issues have never been more important for vendors to address or their customers to understand. That’s especially true as vendors bring new AI solutions and services on line.

Recently in New York City, IBM executives outlined the state of the company’s AI efforts, the critical roles trust and transparency play in that process and the next steps needed to bring those projects in-line with the company’s multi-cloud strategy and vision.

Following those events, IBM announced new Trust and Transparency capabilities on IBM Cloud which automatically detect bias and explain how AI makes decisions, as decisions are being made, and can be applied to models built from machine learning frameworks and AI-build environments, including IBM Watson, Tensorflow, SparkML, AWS SageMaker, and AzureML.

Let’s consider the current and future state of IBM AI, along with why the company is focusing so much attention on related trust and transparency issues and solutions. Continue reading

Lenovo, NetApp and the Benefits of Innovative Strategic Partnerships

By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc.  September 13, 2018

Strategic partnerships are common cause in the IT industry. There are numerous practical reasons for this, including the inherent complexity of modern computing solutions, and single vendors’ inability to effectively address the subtleties of myriad specific markets.

But however well-intentioned, the fact is that some of these efforts fail utterly. Why so? Some are built on faulty assumptions or are ineffectively crafted. Others founder due to the partners’ alterations in course or their inability to deal with changing circumstances.

But many strategic collaborations do succeed. Those tend to include partners that are well-matched from the get-go, that share common goals and pursue individual efforts that, paired, deliver highly synergistic results.

The strategic partnership between Lenovo and NetApp announced today at Lenovo’s Transform 2.0 conference in New York City is likely to fall into the category of successful collaborations. Let’s look at the details of the announcement and consider why the companies’ outlooks are so bright. Continue reading

VMworld 2018 – The Journey from Disruptive Outsider to Legacy Platform

By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc.  September 12, 2018

As I was preparing to attend VMworld 2018 a couple of weeks ago, I realized how much history the company and I share. VMware was founded the year before I became an IT industry analyst. A few months after I started that job, a pair of VMware reps on their first analyst “tour” briefed us to explain and promote the company’s technology and strategy.

Further along, I was covering EMC in 2004 when it bought VMware, a deal spearheaded by EMC CEO Joe Tucci that still qualifies as one of the tech industry’s all-time best corporate acquisitions. In 2016, I was covering both EMC and Dell when the latter announced its plans to acquire the former, along with its 85% stake in VMware.

Both VMworld 2017 and 2018 took pains to emphasize synergies between the company and its new parent but for slightly different reasons. Continue reading

Dell Technologies IoT – Re-envisioning Computer Vision

By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc.  September 5, 2018

The Internet of Things (IoT) gets more than its fair share of media and other attention but has also tended to deliver considerably less substance to date than some vocal evangelists have promised. Why is that the case?

Two reasons spring immediately to mind. First, enterprise IoT is often unfairly saddled with the baggage of scores of so-called Smart Home consumer devices that have come and mostly gone. In fact, compelling and commercially sustainable IoT market opportunities mostly reside in vertical industry use cases.

More importantly, effective IoT solutions are far more complicated and require greater knowledge and expertise than any single vendor possesses. As a result, developing effective IoT offerings requires great technologies and integration skills, plus the ability to develop and manage relationships with partners with special expertise.

One vendor that has been able to avoid the former issue and successfully tackle the latter is Dell Technologies. Continue reading

Lenovo and Pivot3 – Partnering for Smart City Security

By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc.  September 5, 2018

Vendors’ routes to commercial opportunities take many forms but for some markets and situations strategic partnerships make great good sense. That’s particularly true in the case of edge computing and analytics where a Tier 1 vendor provides the core infrastructure platform and components that specialist partners use as a foundation for their own software and hardware offerings.

Lenovo has long followed this strategy so the company’s new partnership with Pivot3 to develop smart city solutions comes as no surprise. However, the companies’ individual strengths and expertise suggest that their common offerings should be valuable and robust. Let’s consider that more closely. Continue reading