IBM’s early dominance of the IT industry stemmed from its status as the original vertically integrated computer manufacturer – a chip-to-command line supplier of hardware and software products that each bore the company brand. IBM systems were not the cheapest, nor were they necessarily superior to best-of-breed alternatives, but IBM could be relied on to make its own products work, spawning the legend that “no-one was ever fired for buying IBM”.
The power of that legend may have faded over the years, but IBM’s technology stack is still comprehensive. The company’s own microprocessors still drive its Z Series mainframe technology, while it also offers a family of Intel-based servers. Both of these are complemented by proprietary but increasingly standards-based systems management, database management and storage tools. IBM has a claim to being the true pioneer of virtual machine management technology, and its application server products and software development divisions have wide support and influence.
This portfolio, supported by IBM’s global services division, has allowed it to remain a trusted strategic partner to the world’s major businesses for five decades. The announcement last November of its latest IBM Smart Analytics Cloud products may actually add little to what the company can already provide, but it shows that IBM is not ready to be complacent. If the future of IT is to be about providing customers with services composed of ready-integrated technologies, IBM is ready and willing to compete on those terms.
How the vendors stack up
Larry Ellison’s company now has the technology required be a strategic supplier, but does it have the relationship skills?
The two IT giants’ commitment to co-operation and mutual interoperability is a practical reaction to industry moves