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LAS VEGAS:  Having set its sights on being a prime contractor, if not the architect, of the smarter planet, IBM has outlined an enhanced strategy for virtualization with integrated service management that focuses on four priorities: consolidation, management, automation and optimized delivery.

The company also rolled out new ‘building blocks’ — software and services — that allow clients to exploit physical and digital assets for improved operations, new products, and reduced costs. The announcements were made at Pulse 2010, to 5,000 attendees, including 1,000 from IBM’s channel.

Quoting IDC, IBM says the revenue for the virtualization-related ecosystem is expected to exceed $46 billion by 2013. With the data center’s boundaries expanding beyond traditional IT assets to include physical assets embedded with intelligent technology such as building facilities, water mains and office equipment, more than one trillion devices will be connected to the Internet by 2011, and digital data is expected to grow tenfold from 2007 to 2011.

The integrated service management theme is a huge opportunity for the channel, said Doug Brown, VP, Marketing Tivoli Software. It’s a $50 billion opportunity just for the software alone, he said. There’s more business than IBM can possibly handle by itself, so it’s looking for partners that can cover the spectrum from the data center into the building and the city itself.

"We’re at a tipping point," said Brown, where the degree of complexity and security exposure are becoming a problem. "It’s a combination of two trends: we really have an infrastructure problem to solve with our partners; and our partners have an opportunity to sell something today to help their customers on the journey."

The key to handling this explosion of connected devices and data is to combine virtualization with integrated service management software to provide visibility, control and automation of the data center, IT design and delivery and physical assets. Establishing good practices of integrated service management allows improvements in service, a reduction in costs and the ability to better manage risks, said Helene Armitage, general manager, IBM System Software, in a statement.

"By offering a cohesive portfolio to manage an infrastructure, IBM is helping clients create the infrastructure for smarter buildings, cities, utilities, offices, transportation systems and operations in every industry around the world."

IBM’s priorities for virtualization and integrated service management include: hypervisor neutrality; a single pane of glass to manage the entire virtualized infrastructure, including servers, storage and networking technologies; data center autopilot to enable systems, storage and networking technologies to dynamically sense and respond to peaks and other shifts in work load demands, as well as reduce the time it takes to deploy new application, or make changes to existing applications; and a path to the cloud, the ability to take advantage of emerging delivery models including cloud computing that allows data from applications or services to be accessed when and where it is needed. The company plans to introduce additional virtualization-related hardware, software and services later this year.

IBM announced more than a dozen new offerings to support its view of integrated service management as the ‘operating system’ of a smarter planet. These include: industry-specific solutions Advanced Water Management and IBM Maximo Real-Time Asset Locator for Aerospace, Energy & Utilities, Healthcare and Manufacturing from IBM Global Business Services; bundled hardware, software, and services for cloud initiatives (CloudBurst QuickStart Services); more than 1,800 ‘ready to deploy’ solutions combining IBM software with partner products in the Tivoli Open Process Automation Library (OPAL); the IBM Information Archive for  policy-driven management of information across its lifecycle; IBM Tivoli Provisioning Manager for Images enables clients to discover, capture, store, deploy and standardize all physical and virtual images in a single repository managed from a single interface; IBM Tivoli Security Incident and Event Manager automates the collection of distributed log information and tracking of abnormal behavior by privileged users; IBM Tivoli Storage Manager, IBM Tivoli Fastback and IBM Tivoli Fastback for Workstations ensure duplicate files are backed up only once and recovery is managed from a single console; and IBM Power7 with IBM Systems Director and VMControl enable a fully virtualized infrastructure providing rapid deployment at lower cost.