According to IBM chairman and CEO Sam Palmisano the client PC era is over, dead and buried, and not just because the vendor sold its Thinkpad business to Lenovo. Cloud computing is the future, and to underline the point Google CEO and chairman Eric Schmidt shared the keynote stage at Big Blue's partner leadership forum in the US last week.
Schmidt delivered a keynote address following Palmisano's, and later the two CEOs participated in a discussion touching on such issues as globalization and cloud computing. Google and IBM collaborated last year on a compute cloud-type system -- a platform for delivering scalable IT capabilities as a service -- and then turned it over for universities to use. It was a pilot project, but it seems clear the two firms will be doing more.
Google wants enterprise customers for its applications, which are delivered as services via compute clouds. What it needs to help make that happen is IBM. Schmidt said IBM is one of the "key planks of the strategy" for reaching enterprise customers. "Customers like to buy from strong sales forces that provide real quality service, and IBM is the best at that," he said.
For his part, Palmisano offered a Google-like view of the universe when told his business-partner audience that the "PC is receding in influence" and is being replaced by network infrastructures. IBM backed-up that view with a number of announcements at the conference, including its Blue Business Platform to facilitate the delivery, complete and integrated software from either IBM or participating independent software vendors. Another cloud-like initiative was its Global Application Marketplace, which will include applications and services delivered via an online catalog directly to a user's server, as well as Web 2.0-like peer ratings of the products.
Steve White, program director of the software alliance leadership council at IBM Canada, said he's impressed with the collaboration between IBM and Google, and added partners would be well advised to take note and adjust their strategies accordingly and begin moving in the new direction.
"There's a lot of things going on (in the cloud) and IBM is helping (partners) bring it all together," he said. "I think the key thing for partners is are you going to get on the bus, or are you just going to watch it leave without you?"
And for cloud computing the future is now, White said. A lot is happening already, such as around software-as-a-service.
"IBM has a lot of programs that can help their partners already," said White. "It's about engaging."
Big Blue goes green
As part of IBM's green computing push the vendor used the Partner Leadership conference to launch new Active Energy Manager Software and an online energy assessment benchmark and expand its Energy Efficiency Certificates Program.
The software tracks energy consumption in data centers, with an eye to helping clients track the power they're using and make changes that can increase efficiencies and reduce costs. IT managers can set caps on power use in areas such as servers and storage, both IBM and non-IBM, as well as air conditioning. And the free on-line energy benchmark tool, located at ibmgreen.bathwick.com, helps partners and their clients measure their energy efficiency against their worldwide peers.