IBM GTS: Enabling and Exemplifying Digital Transformation

By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc.  December 16, 2015

The idea of digital transformation gets a lot of airplay in the IT industry, and for good reason. In the developed world, computing solutions have infiltrated and enhanced business processes of every kind so it is imperative for organizations to examine and adopt impactful technologies. But that process is also far easier said than done which is where technology professional services come in.

While many companies and most of their employees know little about IT consultants, that lack of insight does nothing to detract from their importance. In fact, it isn’t an overstatement to say that without enterprise class IT services players, like Accenture, Deloitte, Infosys and IBM the current state of business IT would be far less defined and beneficial than it is. But why do organizations engage IT services professionals? Generally, because;

  • The projects require higher levels of skills/resources than the customer possesses internally
  • The customer determines that the service engagement is more cost effective, strategically advantageous and/or surer of success
  • The services vendor provides the best means for the customer to adapt to changing business technologies and/or gain competitive advantage

Some might think that IT services is suffering due to the public cloud and other disruptive technologies tripping many IT stalwarts. But that ignores the work that services vendors are doing to adapt to those changes. In fact, IBM’s Global Technology Services (GTS) organization hosted an analyst get-together in New York City last week to discuss just these issues. The result was an experience that helped me better understand the core value of IBM GTS and the broad scope of benefits it offers enterprise clients.

Disruptor or disrupted

The event kicked off with a presentation by Martin Jetter, SVP of IBM GTS, who painted the organization and its aims in broad strokes. Along with the rest of IBM, GTS was substantially reorganized beginning in January 2015. Prior to that, the group was composed of separate businesses; 1) project-based professional services that helped customers deploy and optimize internal/private IT infrastructures and solutions, and 2) strategic outsourcing whose clients hired IBM to substantially or entirely run their IT operations.

Today, those two businesses have been combined to form Infrastructure Services, which Jetter noted reflected the increasing importance of hybrid cloud among virtually all of IBM’s customers. In order to take full advantage of hybrid cloud, businesses must successfully optimize and orchestrate business processes, applications and data whether they reside internally or externally, or in combination. The point, Jetter noted, is that in new eras of digitization, like the one currently being driven by cloud, mobility and other innovations, one can be disrupted or choose to be the disruptor.

IBM GTS encourages and enables customers to pursue the latter path. To achieve this, the group offers a modular set of services – systems, mobility, networking, resiliency, cloud, security and technical support – that can be mixed/matched as the client prefers. Services can be rendered within the client’s own IT infrastructure or delivered from IBM Cloud’s global data center network, or optimized in tandem as hybrid cloud services.

Systems Services roundtable

The details of this process were discussed in roundtable meetings, including one focusing on GTS’s System Services. Led by Laura Sanders, the group’s GM (and formerly IBM GTS’s CTO), the session examined the critical issues driving businesses to engage GTS for systems assistance. Those include the massive surge in data and transactions, and increasing heterogeneity and complexity, as well as the need for integrated, flexible, end-to-end management solutions.

IBM GTS Systems professionals leverage what the company calls Integrated Managed Infrastructure (IMI) services, a flexible, scalable framework that supports management customization and features, like single view reporting, service automation and advanced analytics. The group also leverages a new solution, IBM Brokerage Services which provides customers a means to centrally plan, buy and manage software and computational services from multiple sources, including IBM and public cloud providers such as Amazon, Google. Microsoft and VMware.

Sanders noted that IBM’s recent purchase of cloud brokerage software vendor, Gravitant, will become an increasingly important part of the Brokerage Services. But the larger point is to enable and assist customers in deploying IT systems and solutions on their own terms. That agnostic, multi-vendor approach to customer service has long been a staple of IBM GTS. In fact, the group is among the largest purchasers of IBM competitors’ solutions – the point being that the services engagement is defined by the client, not IBM. New solutions like IBM’s IMI and Brokerage Services simply demonstrate how GTS has itself agnostically adapted to the new era of hybrid cloud computing.

Final analysis

Along with other service group discussions, the Analyst Salon was rounded out with detailed customer testimonials (several under NDA), Q&A sessions and meals with group executives. The event also provided time to observe a number of process/service demoes. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough time to see them all but I was impressed by demoes of IBM’s Predictive Analytics for Server Incident Reduction (PASIR, a solution for improving server resiliency) and the company’s new Client Innovation Center in Austin, Texas (led by Greg Boss, an IBM Master Inventor who holds over 200 patents).

Overall, I left the Analyst Salon with a greater understanding of IBM GTS and the work it does with thousands of organizations in hundreds of markets and vertical industries. In his closing remarks, SVP Martin Jetter noted that GTS has two essential kinds of customers; those looking to increase their stability and those pursuing aggressive growth. One could argue that those customer classes can encompass virtually any and every kind of company but perhaps that was Jetter’s larger point.

IBM has long been a company that is adept at “eating its own dog food” – that is, utilizing the same technologies and services that it promotes to enterprise customers. That allows the company to both remain at the leading edge of digital transformation and to pass along the experience and insights it gains to its clients. Those characteristics provide the foundation for IBM GTS, and are among the reasons that the company has long been and continues to remain a leader in technology service engagements.

Last week’s IBM GTS Analyst Salon offered substantial evidence of the group’s past achievements but it also demonstrated how well IBM has prepared itself for future success.

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