IBM and Price Cuts: Is Watson a Factor?

February 17, 2013

I read “IBM Cuts Price of Watson Based Power Servers.” I have no clue if the story is correct, half current, or incorrect. What’s important is that thought the notion of a Watson related price cut newsworthy.

The Power7 based servers were hot stuff several years ago. CPU performance is no longer the gating factor as it was in the days of STAIRS III. Input output, memory subsystems, and various types of latency make a system fast or not. Heck, careless programming can make Google’s zippy boxes howl with pain when its innards suffer a computational cramp.

The write up asserts:

IBM will roll out eight new Power Systems for entry level starting at $5,947. The new systems include Power Express 710, 720, 730 and 740 family of products…. IBM will also introduce two new PowerLinux Systems – 7R1 and 7R2 – optimized for IBM InfoSphere BigInsights and InfoSphere Streams big data analytics software. The company will also introduce two new Power Systems – 750 and 760 – for midsized and large enterprises.

The hot item in the story in my opinion is this reference:

The new systems are based on IBM’s Watson system and are powered by its Power7+ microprocessor technology. These will enable users to build and deploy infrastructure for private and hybrid clouds, as per a release.

The write up includes the now obligatory baloney about the big data, cloud and caching tactics for performance.

If the story is incorrect, no big deal. Any publicity is good, even for a dog movie like “Heaven’s Gate” and its expensive roller skates. If the story is half correct, why is Watson making an appearance in juxtaposition to “entry level.” Is the vaunted Jeopardy winning technology not generating sufficient revenue to payback the development time and the sunk marketing costs? If the story is correct, I am interested in the fact that high end information technology has to be bundled at lower prices.

Years ago, I was told by an informed person that IBM knew what it was doing when it came to search and information retrieval. Maybe the company will come to dominate the enterprise market for big data, analytics, and smarter search. On the other hand, hasn’t IBM travelled this road before and yet the journey continues.

Stay tuned to Jeopardy or monitor the cancer related news stream. Watson is with us along with a Power7 chip which may be experiencing some symptoms of rheumatism.

Stephen E Arnold, February 17, 2013


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