A few days ago I had a discussion on some aspects related to the business aspects of Pure Systems. As this subject attracts my interest since long time I wanted to share some thoughts here.
1. Some background first (skip this if you are not interested in discussions about engineering software systems)
IBM did an excellent job in terms of raising awareness on the fact that technical expertise can be packaged and reused in various steps of the software construction and delivery process (see, e.g. http://youtu.be/N5i0VxPhgng).
Back in spring 2012 when I first heard that idea (and when the PureSystems initiative was still known under codename “Troy”) I found that IBM succeeded in putting the concept of “pattern” in its right level of abstraction in the IT community.
Beyond architecture patterns in software, the history of engineering is coupled with the notion of “patterns” or more general “models”. Specifically in the domain of software engineering people from the Model-Driven Engineering field could find in PureSystems patterns a nice example of executable models capturing technical qualities of a system (I prefer the word “technical qualities” over “non functional aspects or requirements”).
2. The “non-technical” part now (skip this if you are not interested in business/economics aspects of software)
PureSystems offers for the first time the ability for many different players of the software and IT industry to package their expertise into patterns. I believe it would be beneficial for IBM to move from its current “Patterns of Expertise from IBM” to “Patterns of Expertise for all”.
This is about transforming the business model of IBM’s PureSystems (and same thing for their exalogic friends – and beyond Oracle to all other big players of the software industry) into a universal platform for deployment of patterns of everything that could be packaged and deployed as a piece of business software.
PureSystems Centre is an important part of the strategy but this is clearly not enough. Apple got it right for consumers and the appstore. IBM has to find the way to transform the PureSystems Centre into something meaningful for businesses. Unfortunately, when talking about business software the analogy with appstore breaks. IBM has to invent a new business (and revenue) model from scratch.
Beyond PureSystems Centre the heart of the matter is the transformation of IBM itself (and Oracle, and others). IBM, as any big vendor, has a revenue model based on selling hardware, middleware and services. Sales people are measured on quarterly targets and their performance is tracked on a weekly basis. There is no room yet in such organizations for selling patterns of expertise. There is no revenue recognition for sales people in the field for selling such “exotic” things, especially if the pattern is created by a third party company (ISV or otherwise).
Some people including myself believe that pattern of expertise is the first step towards patterns that capture business added value. No matter how these are called, the cloud offers an immense space of opportunities for software companies to package their business experience and SELL business solutions.
So far IBM got it right in terms of engineering a cloud infrastructure able to receive patterns of technical and business expertise, I am eager to see the same results in terms of business transformation of IBM itself; and beyond IBM, of the whole software industry.