Monday, October 26, 2015

An Update from IBM Insight 2015

The annual IBM Insight conference is being held this week in Las Vegas, as usual at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Conference Center. And I have the good fortunate to be in attendance.

If you follow me on Twitter ( I am live tweeting many of the sessions I am attending at the conference. But for those of you who are not following along on Twitter, or just prefer a summary, here’s a quick overview of Monday’s highlights.

The day kicked off with the general session keynote which was delivered by a combination of Jake Porway (of DataKind), IBMers and IBM customers. The theme of the keynote was analytics and cognitive computing. The emphasis, in my opinion, of the event has kind of shifted from the data to what is being done with the data… in other words, the applications. And that is interesting, because the data is there to support the applications, right? That said, I’m a data bigot from way back, so it was a bit app-heavy for me.

That said, there were some insightful moments delivered during the keynote. Bob Picciano, Senior VP of IBM Analytics, kicked things off by informing the audience that true insight comes from exploiting existing data, dark data, and IoT data with agility driven by the cloud. That’s a lot of buzzwords, but it makes sense! And then executives from Whirlpool, Coca-Cola, and Twitter were brought out to talk about how they derive insight from their data and systems.

Perhaps the most interesting portion of the general session was the Watson discussion, led by Mike Rhodin, Senior VP, IBM Watson. We learned more about cognitive systems and how they get more valuable over time as they learn, which makes them unique in the world of computers and IT. IBM shared that there are more than 50 core technologies used by IBM Watson to deliver its cognitive computing capabilities. It was exciting to learn about systems that reason, never stop learning and drive more value over time.
Additional apps were discussed that let us learn about the various ways to choose wine, that nobody starts thinking about ice cream early in the week and that when the weather changes women buy warmer clothes; men buy beer and chips. You kind of had to be there, I guess!

Of course, this was only the first session of a long day. Additional highlights of the day included a high-level overview of the recently announced (but not yet released) DB2 12 for z/OS, the features that should be in a next generation database, and Gartner’s take on the state of big data and analytics. Let’s briefly address each of these one by one.
Firstly, DB2 12, which will be available in the ESP (early support program) in March 2016. There are a lot of nice new features that will be available in this new version. We’ll see a lot more in-memory capabilities which will speed up queries and processing. Buffer pools can be up to 16 TBs, even though today’s z systems can support only 10 TBs – IBM is planning for the future with that one!

And we’ll continue to see the blurring of the lines between static and dynamic SQL. How? Well, we’ll get RLF for static SQL and plan stability for dynamic SQL in DB2 12. IBM claims that we’ll be able to achieve up to 360 million txns/hour with DB2 12 for z/OS using a RESTful web API. Pretty impressive.

And there will be no skip-level migration for DB2 12... You have to migrate thru DB2 11 to get to 12.

OK, what about the features that should be in a next generation database? According to IBM a next gen DBMS should:
  • Deliver advanced in-memory technology
  • Be fast for both transactional and analytic workloads
  • Provide scalable performance
  • Be available, reliable, resilient, and secure
  • Be simple, intelligent and agile
  • And be easy to deploy and cloud-ready

Sounds about right to me!                                                                                        

And finally, let’s briefly take a look at the some of the Gartner observations on big data and analytics. The Gartner presentation was delivered by Donald Feinberg, long-time Gartner analyst on the topic of data and database systems. First of all, Feinberg rejects the term “big data” saying there is no such thing. It is all just data. He went on to claim that “big data” is perhaps the most ambiguous term out there, but it is also the most searched term at Gartner!

Feinberg also rejected the term data lake, saying “There is no such thing as a data lake, it is just a place to dump data.” He warned that it will  come back to bite organizations in a few years if they do not take the time to manage, transform, secure, etc. the data in the lake, turning it into a data reservoir, instead.

He also made the very interesting observation that BI/analytics was the number 1 priority for CIOs on Gartner’s annual CIO priorities survey and that it has been in that slot for 8 years running. But if analytics was really that much of a priority why haven't they gotten it done yet?

Of course, a lot more happened at IBM Insight today – and many more things were discussed. But I don’t want this blog post to become too unwieldy, so that is all I’m going to cover for now.

I’ll try to cover more later in the week as the conference progresses.

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