Converged Infrastructure Bets Are In: Where Are They Paying Off?

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IBM: The PureSystem Push


IBM PureSystems


IBM launched its PureSystem converged infrastructure servers a little more than a year ago, combining IBM hardware and software,including compute (either x86 or IBM Power processors), storage, networking and systems management technologies. The systems are based on an architecture called the IBM Flex System for managing hybrid cloud infrastructure environments.

IBM executives at the PartnerWorld Leadership conference in February said the Armonk, N.Y., company sold 2,300 PureSystems in 2012.

Only about one-quarter of potential customers specifically inquire about converged infrastructure systems, said Mark Wyllie, CEO of Flagship Solutions Group, a Boca Raton, Fla.-based solution provider and IBM partner. Instead they face IT or business problems for which converged systems are a potential solution.

One prospect Flagship is currently working with, for example, is running out of physical space in its data center and is looking to consolidate the Intel- and IBM-Power-based systems that have proliferated, Wyllie said.

Implementing a converged system is an IT architectural decision — not just adding another server or storage rack, Wyllie said. That can mean longer sales cycles. But it can also tie the customer closer to the technology and foster a long-term relationship.

"We're trying to drive the demand by setting the [IT] architectural discussion," Wyllie said. "It gives us a leg up in terms of [selling] additional capacity and future upgrades."

The PureSystem management console, which provides a single interface for managing multiple server platforms and storage systems, is "strategic" and a big selling point, he added.

Flagship has verbal commitments from two customers for PureSystems and another half-dozen in the works, Wyllie said. "It's early stage, but moving," he said.

Sirius Computer Solutions, a San Antonio-based IBM Premier Business Partner, also has high expectations for its IBM PureSystem business. "I think this has accelerated more than we had anticipated," said Mike Fischer, vice president of sales and alliances, noting in an interview the amount of interest from customers. "So we're all in."

"We've seen continued growth in the pipeline," he said, disclosing only that the company has sold "multiple" IBM PureSystem units so far and the company has a "substantial" pipeline for the current quarter and the rest of the year.

Sirius is primarily seeing interest from existing customers with x86-based System x and IBM BladeCenter servers who are looking to upgrade and consolidate those servers. Offering system implementation, consolidation and virtualization services are the big opportunities, Fischer said. "More than 80 percent of these systems are virtualized," he added.

Sirius has developed "prebuilt statements of work"—fixed-cost/fixed-price bids—for IBM PureSystem projects, Fischer said.

The solution provider has more than 80 sales and technical people with certifications to work with Pure Systems, and 20 of them are devoted exclusively to the product. "We fundamentally committed to this product line prior to its announcement," Fischer said, saying the company was the first to get PureSystem implementation authorization from IBM. Sirius also has PureSystems in five data centers. But Fischer couldn't quantify the company's overall investment.

Fischer declined to disclose financial details about PureSystems sales, including margin guarantees and other financial incentives IBM has offered. But he said: "IBM has done a really good job in putting the incentives out there for the channel." — Rick Whiting

NEXT: NetApp: FlexPod On Fire

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