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

Dell Announces New/Updated Consumer and Small Business Solutions

By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc.  August 29, 2018

Following Gamescom 2018 where Dell announced refreshed Alienware desktop systems and new gaming monitors, the company introduced a raft of new and updated solutions for consumers and small businesses. They include:

  • Inspiron 2-in-1s with enhanced performance via Intel’s new 8th Generation Core processors, sophisticated design points and value pricing
  • Dell’s first premium consumer Chromebook, a 14-inch 2-in-1 solution that combines upscale Inspiron design and features, including 8th Gen Core CPUs, with the simplicity of the Chrome OS
  • XPS 13 2-in-1s with 8th Gen Core processors, plus updated XPS 13 with i3 offerings
  • Vostro 5000 laptops for small businesses with Intel’s latest Core CPUs
  • Dell Mobile Connect now provides enhanced support for iOS apps, texts and calls
  • The Dell 27 USB-C Ultrathin monitor combines aesthetic design points with functional dependability

Pricing and availability details are available at dell.com.

Partner advancements

When considering PCs and other devices, it’s important to keep in mind how much these products depend on innovative and fruitful collaboration. Sure, PCs carry the brand and imprimatur of a primary vendor. But like other complex products, ranging from the smallest consumer electronics devices to the latest digitally-enhanced automobiles, scores of partners contribute their own efforts and innovations to the mix. Continue reading

Lenovo’s Smart Display – The Long Road to Intelligent Appliances Just Got Shorter

By Charles King Pund-IT, Inc.  August 15, 2018

Appliances are so commonplace that it’s easy to forget the often long and difficult road that most travel to success. Sometimes it’s a simple matter of changing taste, like transition from the Autumn Gold and Avocado Green kitchen appliances of the 1960’s to contemporary consumers’ preferences for stainless steel. In other cases—landline telephone handsets are a good example—core design points can last for decades, masking massive behind the scenes changes in supporting infrastructures.

Ideas for compute-enabled smart home products have been around for over two decades but have mostly failed due to high cost, innate complexity and clunky design. Plus, the fact that many such solutions aped functions and features already available on PCs, then smart phones and tablets, reinforced their innate redundancy. If you already have devices that suit the vast majority of your needs, why do you need a smart appliance?

But that situation began changing with the introduction of voice-enabled technologies, like Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, and related consumer products, including integrated speakers, thermostats and lighting fixtures. Recently, Lenovo launched its new Smart Display which comes in 8-inch and 10-inch configurations and leverages Google’s Assistant and Home apps for intelligent interaction. Has Lenovo cracked the code for a new class of smart home products? Let’s look more closely. Continue reading

IBM Power Systems – What We Talk About When We Talk About Cloud

By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc.  August 7, 2018

Because something is commonplace doesn’t mean it is well understood. That point can apply to a laundry list of everyday events and activities but in the world of enterprise computing, it’s especially resonant regarding cloud computing.

Why is that important? Because cloud offers approaches to computing services and service provisioning that are both unconventional and potentially valuable to business organizations, especially enterprises. That’s become clear as larger companies increasingly choose private and hybrid clouds over the public services some cloud evangelists claim will eventually overtake and replace traditional IT.

It’s also important to understand these distinctions when considering new solutions, like IBM’s latest Power Systems servers that are designed to optimally support private and hybrid cloud and address the most stringent needs of the company’s enterprise customers. Continue reading