When I first heard the marketing for IBM's PureSystems, I must admit I was amused. They're calling these systems "expert systems," but when they describe what they mean by an expert system, it sounds like they mean a system that works like it's supposed to without having to monkey around with it for weeks. You know, like any system you've bought this century.
In other words, Big Blue is poking their head out of the Twilight Zone they've been inhabiting for years, proclaiming a miracle that they could actually sell a piece of technology that worked properly. Hallelujah!
To illustrate this admittedly snarky perspective, take a look at the IBM graphic below, which I found in an IBM PureSystems flyer. Apparently, the PureSystems value proposition is that you don't have to make do with "traditional systems," which IBM describes as being "up and running in months," "overpurchased and overprovisioned," "hard to maintain, complex, and brittle," etc.
The irony of these statements, of course, is that by traditional systems, IBM means the crap we've been selling you for years. Anybody who's tried to install WebSphere Application Server from the 80-odd CD-ROMs that IBM shipped knows what I'm talking about.
But perhaps I'm being too hard on IBM. After all, they claim to be turning over a new leaf. Let's not complain about the way things were, let's look at what they're selling today. Fair enough.
Perhaps the most interesting angle on the PureSystems messaging is that IBM is billing certain configurations of the tool as a Private Cloud in a box. Preconfigured, template-driven, and essentially turnkey, PureSystems offers virtualized compute, network, and storage in one integrated package. Furthermore, it comes in three basic configurations: PureFlex for IaaS, PureApplication for PaaS, and PureData for Big Data. Each configuration comes in multiple sizes, maxing out with the 10-rack PureData system sporting a whopping 1,120 CPU cores and 1.28 petabytes of storage.
If this monster works as well as IBM says it does, it represents some serious enterprise firepower. But is it a Private Cloud in a box? In part, perhaps. The automated management and fully virtualized compute, storage, and network is much of what we mean by a Cloud, but I couldn't find any mention of automated self-service provisioning in the marketing. Without this critical feature, I'd be hard-pressed to consider PureSystems a Cloud.
But even if such capabilities are present, there is still the question of maximum capacity. What if you need more than 1,120 CPU cores? Buying another PureSystems won't help, since you'll have two separate systems instead of one seamless Cloud. And there's the rub, not just with PureSystems, but with virtually every Private Cloud in existence. Because they all have a maximum capacity, they don't hold a candle to true Clouds like the Amazon's AWS. Many finite "Clouds" do not add up to the "infinite" elasticity that the market leader can provide.
PureSystems, PureFlex, and PureApplication are IBM trademarks.