IBM and Its Deep Understanding of Google

October 5, 2009

In May 2008, I wrote “IBM and Google: Replay of IBM and Microsoft?” When I wrote that article I had learned that IBM had responded to an inquiry about IBM’s knowledge of Google’s next generation database system. IBM’s response was, in effect, “We have these Google guys right where we want them.” My view in May 2008 was then and is today that IBM does not have a very good idea of what Google’s technical thrust is. IBM points to its working with Google to foster better university instruction in programming distributed systems and other buddy buddy activities.

Imagine my delight when I read “IBM Undercuts Google with Discount E-Mail Service.” IBM has been in the email game for years. The company tried its hand at Internet services and ended up dumping the business on the “old” AT&T, which still offers a variant of that IBM service. And, as most professionals, know, IBM offers the wonderful Lotus Notes system, the Domino server, and quite remarkable collaboration features. The fact that dedicated engineers are required to keep the system up and running is a feature of the ancient technology that underpins these systems. Have you tried to recover a Lotus Notes mail store? Pretty exciting and definitely a reason to get pizza and Jolt cola at 3 am on a Sunday morning.

The Associated Press reported that IBM is back. I can’t quote from the AP story. The addled goose is unable to buy stale bread to feed the goslings, let alone compensate a legal eagle to protect the flock. Read the original story. For me the key points boils down to one sequence of word associations:

Discount. Price war. Desperation.

What’s this mean? Simple. Google is a growing force in the enterprise sector. IBM, in my opinion, may want to pay attention to its DB2 business, not Google’s email challenge. When DB2 gets clipped, IBM is going to have to boost its consultants’ billing rates to make up for the revenue loss. Google’s next generation data management system is coming and based on my research, Google will offer better performance and more features with its Googley business model.

Yep, IBM has those guys right where it wants them. Great phrase. I would flip it around. Google has IBM right where Google wants IBM – in the discount email business and ignoring the DB2 killer headed IBM’s way.

Stephen Arnold, October 5, 2009


One Response to “IBM and Its Deep Understanding of Google”

  1. Gavin Bollard on October 5th, 2009 8:56 pm

    I’m not sure what you were doing at 3am in the morning but recovering a notes mail store is pretty simple. Not something we do often – because we don’t need to but a simple task nevertheless. Try recovering an exchange one for comparison.

    IBM’s moves into cloud computing aren’t new. Notes/Domino is a proven OS-independent product with a very impressive uptime record. It may give Google a run for their money in the business arena but more importantly, it provides a very viable business alternative to the Microsoft product line.

    It will be interesting to compare uptime between the three offerings once they really start to compete with each other.

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