IBM PULSE is definitely the event for ITSM. Compared to other major vendors IBM encourages critics to join in and really tries to get discussion going on this conference. This makes it an event I definitely left with a lot of lessons learned.
This said and me being an attendee of PULSE 2008 in Orlando, I want to share some personal insight comparing these two exceptional events. In 2009 the economic crises and its palpable and coming impact on the IT industry are definitely looming over the event and have influenced it quite a bit. The most obvious change is the choice in examples in ALL IBM and external keynotes. All the examples came from the industries we expect to be least influenced by the economic crises. I.e. case studies these days focus on utilities (especially energy and energy grid), food and medical services.
The most stunning change however is the conference bringing IBM Tivoli back to its roots. The hot topic this year is dynamic infrastructure (nice article by Timothy Prickett Morgan). Even though this is a good marketing entry to get people interested in IBM´s approaches to cloud computing and most likely will positively influence sales of Tivoli Provisioning Manager TPM it also makes sure that even in keynotes talk about events, monitoring and system management are frequent and quite technical. Last year the hot topic was to hammer home the key drivers for modern ITSM solutions from an IBM point of view (visibility, control, automation) which was a fairly new and definitely innovative message. These are still around but now serve as a driver to promoting basic services. I, being a “fairly” technical person, enjoyed that shift in topic, because even though there is a lot of marketing and sales feeling around any conference of this kind, IBM PULSE 2009 managed to actually show most of the things speakers were on about rather than just brainwashing attendees to adopt new language and terminology.
Also coming from Germany, where serious issues concerning the job market are never addressed directly, I was positively surprised, that cost cutting, job loss and a growing competition between IT experts was directly addressed by keynote and session speakers. Actually discussing these topics with the affected people seems much less like sticking your head in the sand than anything that is going on back home.
Besides all the talk about events, event management, new versions and many many technical sessions for actual learning there were a lot of interesting announcements. Most of them went around the topic of cloud computing and/or dynamic infrastructure. For IBM the first step in cloud computing is mostly IT on demand (as John Willis and Michael Coté said in their first day wrap up video posted as a special edition of the “IT Management Podcast” that term was not bad either) and is now called dynamic infrastructure. I will come back to my interpretation of IBM´s positioning in the cloud market in a separate post shortly.
So the current situation brought forth some very honest words on the IT market, a lot of back to the roots talk about infrastructure, events, process management and managing your IT properly. Pulling the whole techie talk back up into an IT management and business perspective was quite hard for the keynote speakers. Luckily IBM has Doug McClure around to tie the whole technical perspective up to the business view not just on a tool level. Doug seemed to be a little torn on the possibility of actually getting BSM done in a large scale enterprise in the last couple of month and published quite a bit on BTM as an alternative – articles I really enjoyed, because they were really straight forward. But in his PULSE 2009 reviews (overall, day 1, day 2 and BSM special) he is back to connecting all the IT gadgets in ITSM to the real world of profit and service quality.
So my overall recap of IBM PULSE 2009 in the shadow of the economic crises is:
1. Dynamic infrastructure can prevail as it really offers IT on demand and IBM is actually able to deliver and made that quite clear on the conference.
2. The strategy is much back to the roots, talking a lot about system management, event consolidation and the like with BSM pulling these topics back onto a business level.
3. IBM strategists are obviously very closely following economic development, which can be seen from all the examples picked from utilities, food and medical services.
4. Automation is a key topic in all tracks (event consolidation, dynamic IT, service management, …) and getting rid of swivel chair interfaces via automation solutions is actually in the crosshairs now.