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POWER > Business Strategy > Open Source

How IBM’s Inclusivity Is Moving Technology Forward

welcome, open, innovation, power
Illustration by Stephan Walter

The “Welcome” sign is up at IBM and it’s attracting a wide array of companies, organizations and individuals to collaborate, innovate and build client-focused solutions for hardware and software.

IBM’s inclusivity is creating a new business model to help clients gain a competitive advantage because of system improvements in speed, memory and consolidation. It’s also generating more business for ISVs who benefit from a growing universe of POWER* users for their applications. And, IBM and its OpenPOWER Foundation partners are actively supporting innovative approaches.

This open-innovation approach is rapidly gaining acceptance as other thought leaders see the wisdom of combining talents to generate the best outcome for the end user. Traditionally, the term “open” connotes the open-source software movement where companies, thought leaders and individuals contribute to base building blocks from which users innovate independently, explains Calista Redmond, director, OpenPOWER Global Alliances at IBM. “IBM is taking this several layers deeper in the stack. Open innovation now applies to software and hardware.”

“The level of investment and momentum is incredible, as is the productivity of OpenPOWER members. We’re not just telling the market what we are doing. We’re showing it.”
—Calista Redmond, director, OpenPOWER Global Alliances at IBM

IBM and its partners are looking to optimize workloads all the way down to the chip. The company is enabling open innovation on the POWER architecture, allowing clients to incorporate any number of advances within the system.

Those advances range from optimizing memory, acceleration and interconnection as well as leveraging different hardware resources within the system using open firmware and opening up the application stack. The end result is a fully configured solution, not just a piece of software that works with other software. “Open development creates both the base building blocks and the glue between them,” Redmond notes. “You keep all of the interfaces open so that companies, individuals and end users can still add their secret sauce on top of and around those base building blocks.”

Fundamental Changes

Fundamental changes in the industry mean open innovation is critical, Redmond says. Moore’s Law no longer applies so you can’t rely on a new chip to solve the problems of slowing systems. If you can’t count on the chip, then you must depend on optimizations that can be packed around it.

At the same time, workload demands are changing and evolving. Today’s workloads are more complex and require fluctuating capacity and performance. The volume of data is rising along with the need for faster processing of that data. This is true whether the demand arises from cloud computing, analytics or high-performance computing.

100+ projects are being developed for POWER by OpenPOWER members
15 new pieces of hardware were unveiled at the OpenPOWER Summit in March

Additionally, the consumption model itself is morphing as client requirements evolve. In the past, traditional systems providers like IBM provided systems directly to enterprise-sized users. But now users are more diverse. Some consumers want to “pay by the drink” in the cloud. “They want to consume exactly the level of compute, networking and storage as they need it,” Redmond says. On the flip side, massive scale-out data centers are buying hundreds of thousands of systems, undertaking their own development and buying systems directly from the manufacturer based on their own blueprint.

Finally, the entire open software ecosystem has become more mature. A robust enterprise-class industry based on open-source software operates best on open interfaces where workloads can be optimized.

Shirley S. Savage is a Maine-based freelance writer. Shirley can be reached at



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