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By 30 November 2011 | Categories: news

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While introducing new smart computing technologies, IBM this week asserted that the world is on the verge of the next era of computing at a media briefing in Sandton.

Tikiri Wandarugala, the  senior server consultant for IBM system and blade centre, explained that the IT industry has predominantly been focused on increasing the efficiency of computers, by making them faster, cheaper and smaller.
 
He continued that the next era of computing lay in its smartness, elaborating that the inherent smartness or dumbness of a machine is determined firstly by its ability to accept feedback from the environment around it, react accordingly, and change the way it worked.

Vision of a smarter world

One example he gave of smart computing at work entailed how every bank in London may have all of its servers switched on during the day; however, when those servers were not in use they would automatically switch themselves off. He added that utilising servers which could smartly detect when they weren’t being used and switch off would have a greater benefit than using low energy consumption processors.

Another component of smart computing is using existing technologies in a different way. Citing the iPod as an example, Wandarugala  asserted that a revolutionary product often emerged from using stable and existing components innovatively. In the iPod’s case, this was combining the technology behind the LCD screen with that behind its selection wheel.

Additionally, the highly pertinent drive to find a way to manage resources more effectively was also necessitating the need for smarter ways of applying computing.

“Consider how much petrol is used for parking a car. If we could provide a system whereby the carpark could ‘tell’ drivers where parking spaces are available, this would save petrol and have an impact on how many barrels of oil need to be used by a country,” he added.

Whereas old fashioned thinking was simply to make the carpark bigger (and thus consume more resources), the company explained that the implementation of smarter systems that enabled innovative ways to address common problems could further result in a smarter planet.

In a similar fashion, being able to variably adjust the speed limit on a traffic clogged road could likewise enable a smoother flow of traffic and result in less petrol consumption, and decreased environmental impact.

The smarter enterprise

One area where the need for smarter computing was readily apparent lay in how organisations managed data.

Bevan Lock, the midrange disk storage product manager for IBM Systems Group in South Africa, pointed out that the amount of data being stored is growing dramatically, with every two years the data passing through an organisation doubling, while the budget to manage data typically remained the same.

The challenge of handling an ever increasing amount of data with the same resources meant that organisations would have to look at doing things differently.

In the business space, the company explained that as the world’s demand for data and services put a strain on IT resources, organisations could find themselves trapped in a vicious cycle in which rigid IT infrastructure and a lack of trusted data led to reactive decision making.

Exacerbating matters even more was the fact that attempting to solve these problems solely with additional IT investments often resulted in a more sprawling and costly infrastructure.

“The old ways of buying and managing storage have become less effective. Due to resource constraints – both physical storage and human resources – IT organisations must act quickly to optimise and simplify their infrastructure, as unchecked growth will only become bigger problems over time,” elaborated Lock.

Smarter storage

To this end, the company announced its Storwize V7000 Unified, which is a midrange virtualised storage system to complement virtualised storage environments that offers a highly scalable capacity not seen before in midrange disk systems. Lock explained that the V7000 consolidates block and file workloads into a single storage system for simplicity of management as well as reduced cost.

He enthused that the V7000 incorporates some if IBM’s top technology, typically only found in enterprise class storage systems. The product further features a dynamic, compact design, while using individual, modular components. This is intended to provide organisations with reduced space requirements and greater flexibility, while capacity and functionality can be added as needed over time.

To the point

According to Wandarugala, it was the economic situation globally that was driving the need to adapt – and sparking a very rapid evolution of technologies. He added much of the progression towards a smarter planet entailed managing waste more effectively, whether this was the waste produced while searching for a parking space or sitting in a traffic jam, or the waste produced by organisations who weren’t managing their storage smartly.

However, IBM’s ultimate message was clear: there are solutions, provided we think a bit more smartly. 

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