Key Takeaways from IBM Think 2019

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By Bo Gebbie, Vice President, Sales, Services and Marketing

During the week of February 11, IBM hosted IBM Think 2019 in San Francisco, CA.  In addition to Think, the annual IBM PartnerWorld Conference was also held during the same time.  Hosting these events together saw almost 30,000 attendees descend on San Francisco for the week.

Evolving Solutions had several team members and clients attend the event.  It was an outstanding opportunity to learn about IBM’s 2019 strategic imperatives, new solution announcements and new channel program enhancements.  Additionally, the event afforded us the opportunity to network with hundreds of clients and IBMers from across the country.

As I reflect back on Think, there were several key take-aways for me.

  • Hybrid Cloud is where it’s at. According to the IBM Institute for Business Value, clients are already using between two to 15 clouds.  These environments might be on-premise or in the public cloud.  As the number of cloud silos continue to grow, clients need an easier way to connect the applications, no matter where the data resides.  During Think, the IBM Cloud Integration Platform was announced.  This platform is “designed to securely connect applications, software and services from any vendor regardless of whether those systems are on-premises, in a public cloud or a private cloud,” according to IBM.
  • Data.  Data. Data.  According to IBM CEO Ginny Rometty, “only 20% of the world’s data is searchable.”  Applications such as Office365, CRM, expense management, etc. were the “easy apps” to get into the cloud.  There is 80% of data out there that is critical to an organization’s overall success.  Those core systems will be the focus of the next era.  How do clients utilize that data to make gather meaningful business insights, and make-real time decisions?  IBM is placing big bets on “the next 80%” to help grow its solution portfolio.
  • Artificial Intelligence will transform how we all work. Many people still think of AI as something you would see in a Sci-Fi movie.  But, according to Rometty and several executives we spoke with, AI will be embedded in applications or layered on top of them in the future.  AI will enable new or improved business processes.  AI will enable every single person to do their job in a more efficient or data-led way.  AI will not replace jobs; rather it will augment how we do work.  I like the theory, and look forward to seeing how this plays out over time.
  • Red Hat is key to IBM’s future. The IBM executives could not say a ton about the Red Hat acquisition, since the deal has not closed yet. But, every single IBMer was excited for what Red Hat can bring to IBM in terms of new client opportunity, innovating the product stack and keeping IBM relevant to the next generation of buyers.
  • Holy moly, the Moscone Center is huge. One of my non-business learnings is that the Moscone Center in downtown San Francisco is enormous.  It is no small feat to fit tens of thousands of people into one place!

Over the next few months, we will have Evolving Solutions team members at several of our other strategic partners’ premier conferences.  We will share our insights from those events on our blog.

I am looking forward to returning to San Fran next May for Think 2020.  Hope to see you there!

Bo Gebbie joined Evolving Solutions in January, 2017 as the Vice President of Sales, Services and Marketing. In this role, he is responsible for the sales, pre-sales services, post-sales consulting and marketing pillars within the organization. He is a member of the Executive and Management Teams, and represents the organization externally on vendor and partner Advisory Councils.

Before joining Evolving Solutions, Bo was an IBM executive, serving last as Vice President of Server Solution Sales, North America. In that role, he had sales and profit responsibility for a $3B portfoilio across Power Systems, z Systems and the Server Linux brands. Prior to that, Bo was the Business Unit Executive, Power Systems Sales, North America.

Like what you read? Follow Bo on LinkedIn.

Emerging Technology Trends to Watch in 2019

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By Liz Young, Marketing Coordinator

I recently hit up one of our visionaries here at Evolving Solutions, our CTO, Michael Downs, to get his take on the technological trends we can expect to see in the coming year.  Michael evaluates emerging and disruptive technologies.  He brings together the real-world experience our team possesses to help our clients implement solutions that are agile, offering as much longevity as technology allows.

He offered some really great insight on some pretty cool emerging technologies and I had to share three of them because I think they are something to look forward to.


IT Automation is the trend that keeps coming back. We’ve been talking about IT automation for decades, but it has taken on increasing relevance with most infrastructure now able to be treated as code for deployment and changes. This has allowed developers to integrate the development automation they already created with deployment automation for infrastructure.

The rise of both containers and “server-less” application development models have made automation required. Managing a container that might only run for less than 30 seconds before it’s deleted simply can’t be managed with more traditional manual processes.


After several years of crypto currency hype and over-promise for solving every enterprise problem, some practical and realistic implementations are starting to emerge.

In spite of the reputation for Blockchain supporting interactions between completely untrusting, anonymous parties, the “permissioned Blockchain” model, where the participants are known is showing significant promise for enterprise use cases.

Deriving value from enterprise Blockchain implementations usually necessitates a consortium. We recommend you identify others in your industry or value chain who would also benefit from a shared ledger and work with them on use cases.

Quantum Computing

Undoubtedly the most futuristic and uncertain area of emerging technology. Tremendous energy and time is being spent on Quantum Computing research by companies with the resources, capabilities and interests to achieve breakthroughs. IBM (  and Google ( both have significant efforts and are  enlisting developers to experiment with algorithms and programming models through their respective portals and cloud based offerings.

In addition to the technical challenges related to making a commercially viable Quantum Computer, use cases that truly take advantage of the unique computational paradigm of Quantum Computing are still being developed. Physical Chemistry, cryptography and certain artificial intelligence use cases seem the most promising, but until more people outside of research laboratories begin to understand the true nature of Quantum Computing, it’s potential will remain limited.

Automation, Blockchain and Quantum Computing are just a few of the technologies that should make 2019 interesting.   I know Evolving Solutions will be watching these technologies for their potential in helping our clients solve their organizational challenges so stay tuned to our blog and social media for more!

Liz Young - Evolving Solutions

Liz is the Marketing Coordinator and is responsible for the digital/social strategy, content creation and campaign execution for Evolving Solutions. She handles all online platforms including the Evolving Solutions website, blog, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.

Liz works with the incredibly talented sales, consultant, and architect teams to ensure we offer the best support to our clients. From creating collateral, to planning world-class events, Liz works to ensure our best foot is always forward.

With more than 15 years of marketing experience, Liz is also pursuing a journalism degree at the University of Minnesota.

Like what you read? Follow Liz on LinkedIn.

Michael joined Evolving Solutions in 2014 to develop solutions for our clients across hardware and software, both on and off premise. He brings over 18 years of creating architectures to solve complex business problems including big data, high performance computing, integration, automation and end user computing.

His broad technology, business and industry experience provides valuable perspective to our clients working to implement innovative technologies to support their success.

Like what you read? Follow Michael on LinkedIn at

5 Signs Your Organization is Ready for the Cloud 

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Cloud is pretty much a way of life these days.  If you haven’t made the move to cloud, there is a good chance you could be feeling left out; left wondering what the hype is all about, and what cloud solutions can do for your organization.  Cloud can be a lot of things, from gaining a competitive edge through cloud computing solutions, to being used as a backup and recovery tool, the possibilities cloud offers are virtually limitless. 

So, how do you know if your organization would be well-served using any of the many cloud solutions that are out there?  If you can relate to any of these obstacles, it may be worth looking into what cloud can do for you. 

Is your data center nearing end-of-life or capacity thresholds? 

Cloud offers scalable options fit for most budgets and needs.  Plus, it always evolves, so you don’t have to worry about what happens when you reach end-of-life or a certain threshold. 

Has the management of legacy IT systems become burdensome? 

With certain cloud products, you can spend time on new projects rather than maintaining existing infrastructure, and there are many types of system monitoring utilities to choose from, so you can keep tabs on everything that’s happening with your environment. 

Are you uncertain of your IT needs and requirements, but must meet key business deliverables? 

Cloud solutions provide you with the freedom and flexibility to change services depending on demand.  This saves money and allows the most efficient use of your resources.  Plus, you pay only for the users and storage your company needs. 

Do you have a new application requirements for mobile/distributed users? 

The cloud is making it easier to work anywhere, with any device. Cloud computing offers easier access across all devices and new ways to get the job done. 

Do you have offsite requirements, but no desire or ability to have another data center? 

When you take advantage of cloud computing, you’ll enjoy the major benefit of reducing your IT assets. This is because you only pay for the performance and space you need, reducing your capital expenditures.  

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, taking a closer look at cloud solutions might be a worthwhile endeavor.  Through customizing cloud options to meet your needs, many of the chores weighing down your workload today, can be easily managed, leaving you to work on other things. 

Bluemix Cloud Computing Solutions Drive Value for Businesses

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By Doug Polen, Evolving Solutions Software Sales Specialist

Can Walmart really influence its vendors to migrate away from AWS cloud computing solutions?  If I was a supplier to the retail behemoth, I’d certainly want to consider my options.  AWS is the Uber of the cloud marketplace, but there are other players in the marketplace that offer viable cloud solutions.   Consider IBM’s Bluemix…

You may ask – what is IBM Bluemix, I’ve never heard of it?  Is that Softlayer?  IBM has a cloud computing solution?  These are things I have heard multiple customers say to me over the past couple of months as I have been working to create brand awareness in the Upper Midwest.  Bluemix is IBM’s IaaS and PaaS cloud solution, the IaaS components were previously branded under IBM’s Softlayer acquisition.  Earlier this year, it was merged with the Bluemix PaaS catalog of offerings which was originally launched back in 2014.

Why should you care about Bluemix now that IBM has gotten serious about IaaS and PaaS cloud computing solutions?  There are many finite details, but the top reason for a medium to large enterprise would be Private Cloud.  Many organizations are just fine with sharing their cloud environments in the public space, but as organizations embrace Hybrid Cloud models going across multiple data centers and cloud providers, how do you know your “stuff” is secure?  IBM is able to offer Public, Private, Semi-Private and Local cloud computing solutions for customers to choose what makes sense in their world…while this is likely to change, it can be a very compelling reason for customers to opt with Big Blue.

As a customer, you’ve got options.  It all depends on the use case and what you are trying to accomplish.  Based on my interactions with the IBM teams and my customers, there are some key offerings within Bluemix that are Hot on the Truck at the moment:

  • VMWare Solutions (Hytrust, Veeam & Zerto alliances)
  • Virtual Servers
  • IBM Watson Services for Cognitive Computing Capabilities
  • Weather Company Integration
  • Websphere Application Server
  • Data & Analytics Services
  • Application Integration with API Connect and App Connect

I am excited to see IBM break down many of the silos that previously made it challenging to work with.  Given the robust catalog of offerings, there are multiple ways to procure these cloud tools and services (pay/go, gift card model or subscription).  If you are an existing IBM software customer, be sure to consider the Bridge to Cloud programs at renewal time, you could get a low cost test drive of the Bluemix platform for a couple years.  Nothing on your software renewal that is eligible to bridge…ask for a small sample of Bluemix, you’ll likely see some additional discounting on your annual maintenance bill.

We are Evolving Solutions, Let’s get to work and help you understand how Bluemix cloud computing solutions can bring value to your organization. Contact us today.


Doug Polen is a Software Sales Specialist at Evolving Solutions.












Cloud Security – Questions to Ask

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Cloud services can provide any-sized business efficiency and cost savings. Cloud services can also help free up time to allow for innovation and speed up time to market. For some companies cloud services can also provide better security.  IT teams wear many hats to keep their systems in tip-top shape as the world demands always on service.  Many teams are looking to trusted partners who offer solutions to help them manage.

When it comes to adopting a cloud solution, many put security on the top of their list of concerns.  In fact, IBM recently found that 76% of CIOs consider IT security their biggest risk. Security just like other criteria should be evaluated thoroughly when looking at a new IT service whether that service is cloud related or not. IBM Cloud pulled together these questions to ask when evaluating a cloud service:

  • Who is responsible for security? Understand who owns what once the cloud solution is in place. You may find that the provider does not take full security responsibility or uses a third party.  Depending on the skills  of your team, you will need to decide if you can handle the added security needs or perhaps you can work on a shared responsibility setup or you may want a vendor who has full cloud security expertise and handling
  • How do you evaluate if the security is adequate?  When it comes to security don’t stop your evaluation at the certificate level. Dig in and find out what and where the certification covers and what it means to your business. Better yet, look for a cloud service provider that covers security for the entire infrastructure and can help you manage regulatory compliance standards
  • What happens if something goes wrong? You must understand the provider’s disaster recovery process. In today’s always on world, quick recovery is crucial not only to your customers and employees but also to your bottom line

Finally, once the decision is made to move forward, be sure to clearly document the process, procedures and the division of responsibility for managing your cloud service.

Public or Private – It’s Not All or Nothing

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Many organizations are still in the decision making process when it comes to cloud solutions. Should we go private cloud? Should we go public cloud? Should the question be centered on which type of cloud to adopt or should the question really be centered on which cloud best fits your need? We think the latter is the right approach.

Judith Hurwitz writes for IBM’s Thoughts on Cloud, “There are times when a public cloud makes more sense and other times when private cloud is ideal,” she further adds, “There are times it makes sense for security and governance concerns to place workloads in a private cloud. When the organization must be accountable for customer data, it may find that that private cloud enables its users to track and govern data more predictably.”  And still other times, to build new infrastructure to support a need may be unfeasible and a public cloud solution offers an attractive alternative to support and move fast.  Of course, there are also times when your workload or business need requires a hybrid cloud approach.

Don’t get hung up on the type of cloud solution. First, understand the problem you are trying to solve or the new demand you are trying to meet. As an example be sure you know:

  • What sort of security and control is required?
  • What sort of processing, scalability and flexibility is needed?
  • Who is the ultimate end user?
  • What systems are currently in place and would they hinder or integrate well?
  • What benefit or new revenue will come from meeting this need?

Then sit down with a trusted partner and talk through which cloud solution is the right fit. By starting first with a thorough understanding of your needs, you can better ensure a successful cloud deployment for your organization – whether public, private or hybrid.

How Cloud Can Help Provide Data Insights

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Data, data, data. Businesses across all industries are faced with not only the challenge of storing and processing ever-growing data, but also utilizing it to draw actionable insights. Not only do businesses have their own internal data sources, but in today’s world there are also external data sources that can prove to be just as critical – but how do you process and integrate.

Maia Sisk of IBM’s Big Data and Analytics Hub blog provides this perspective, “while many businesses are aware of the potential value of external data—including event, social, weather, and geospatial data—many organizations don’t have the time or resources needed to fully leverage that data once they get their hands on it.”  External data is often unstructured, it can be fragmented, and all-in-all difficult to integrate with your own internal data. Even if integration does happen, as Mr. Sisk points out, many businesses still lack the internal expertise (or time!) to draw actionable insights from it.

Ms. Sisk points to cloud data solutions as the answer to help businesses make sense of external data sources. Before jumping in, she provides these considerations when choosing a partner:

  • Data variety. The cloud data solution provider should ensure that decisions are made based on all available data –open data, business-owned data.  It should also provide you access to high velocity data from mobile devices and Internet of Things sensors
  • Comprehensive. When looking at cloud data solution try to find one partner that can bring it all together. This will reduce the time needed to manage down the road
  • Real-time.  Look for a solution that processes data in real-time and can deliver actionable insights to a diverse set of end users

Finally, create a solid strategy. What does your company hope to achieve? What questions do  you want to answer? What systems do you have (or not have) to react to insights? Use this to communicate with potential cloud solution partners so your solution can be tailored to best meet your needs.

5 Things to Know About SaaS

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Many are familiar with the term software-as-as-service (SaaS), and in fact SaaS may be some organization’s first step into cloud solutions. Janet Whaley Sifers shares five things you may not know about SaaS on IBM’s Thoughts on Cloud.

SaaS as a solution to address digital disruption. Ms. Whaley Sifers writes, “We are seeing dramatic changes in how corporate value is created. Rather than being based on tangibles, today’s shared economy is more focused on intangibles—your brand, your intellectual property and your people.” How these are managed is key to an organization’s success. As digital disruption continues to drive us to consider new ways of engaging customers and news ways of operation, software-as-a-solution can provide businesses the flexibility to test and react quickly as well as the ability to scale up and down.

SaaS is secure.  Gartner analysts find that businesses can be safer in the public cloud than in their own data centers but the key is to have the right policies and procedures in place. Ms. Whaley Sifers looks to IBM’s Chief Information Security Officer, David Cass, for advice on what a cloud vendor should be able to deliver. Taken from her article, here are his recommendations below.

Vendors should be able to provide:

  • Security by design, achieved through a secure engineering framework
  • Enforced standards, tested processes and dedicated tools to protect your data
  • Operational security enforced by state-of-the-art scanning and intrusion detection
  • Global security incident process monitored at all times

The right vendor can make it easy to adopt a software-as-a-service solution. Again look to the processes and procedures proposed before moving forward and define a clear strategy.

SaaS can bring you access to cognitive computing.  Cognitive computing is in the news more and more and businesses are interested in moving from systems that process to “think.”

Finally, to quote Ms. Whiley Sifers, “With SaaS, every department is an IT buyer. This decentralization has changed the role of IT and how every organization engages with new apps.” Although IT may find this environment tricky at times, it also opens the door for IT to engage the business and become a thought-leader for driving new processes that bring a competitive edge to their companies.

Small Businesses Take Advantage of the Cloud

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As technology continues to change, it can be difficult to keep up especially for small businesses with limited IT budgets. Look to cloud solutions as a way to stay on top.

BizTech Magazine writes, “Technology is essential to any successful company, and as many small businesses make their way on the journey to becoming big businesses, they find that optimizing their use of IT can be a major challenge. Many small businesses lack the IT skills and resources needed to take full advantage of technological advances.”

Have you found that to be true at your own company? Cloud solutions can give any-sized business the access to timely services that are scalable, ready-to-use and many times budget-friendly.  Cloud services allow your team to more easily tap into industry expertise and best practice solutions. BizTech Magazine highlights the three most common ways that small businesses use the cloud:

  • Communications
  • Productivity
  • Data/Security

While communications and productivity may center around apps, a common data/security function that more businesses are looking into is disaster recovery-as-a-service or disaster recovery in the cloud.  DR in the cloud or cloud clustering containerizes your workload and enables the ability to treat disaster recovery and testing the same way data centers treat generators and electrical load.  It offers small businesses a reliable and affordable DR solution.  In fact, the Evolving Solutions team has written in detail about DR in the age of cloud infrastructure If you would like to learn more, check out our blog post.

Cloud can open up many opportunities for small businesses but it is important to remember that you must lay a solid foundation by first evaluating your needs to determine the right cloud solution.

If you are still on the fence about how cloud might help your business, we have a great opportunity for you to learn more. Join us February 11, 2016 in St. Paul, our team will discuss what is happening in the cloud industry and break down the questions (and answers!) you should ask to develop a solid cloud strategy.  After the discussion we will head over to the Xcel to watch the MN Wild take on the Washington Capitals. We invite you to register.

Transparency & Collaboration for Better Data Security

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David Cook of IBM’s Thoughts on Cloud writes, “Security breaches are a fact of modern life. These days, it seems that every time an attack hits the news, companies redouble their efforts to prevent another one—only to find themselves facing an even more insidious threat the next time around.” So what can you do to create a great data security process?

Mr. Cook points to transparency and collaboration as being key themes to keeping your data safe in an ever growing cloud, mobile and IOT device environment.  He also adds, “As businesses and technologies evolve, so do vulnerabilities and attack vectors. That means your data security program must change with them. If it doesn’t, your company’s exposure to risk will continue to increase over time.”  Here are Mr. Cook’s recommendations for developing a solid security program to protect your data:

  • Review new data protection technology and methods constantly –often times looking to outside providers to tap their expertise and resources
  • Be open to feedback. Collaboration and transparency are a key theme here.  First, listen to your employees. Get them involved and engaged with protecting the company’s assets. Next, don’t  forget about your customers. Mr. Cook writes, “depending on your industry, product or service, your company could benefit from letting your customers review your security program. And then listen to their feedback. Oftentimes, your customers will have expertise that can help improve your program”
  • Invest in third party audits. An outside resource can spend the time to review processes and procedures to identify gaps and opportunities.  Mr. Cook recommends SOC2 Type 2 or ISO 27001 certifications.
  • Turn mistakes into opportunities.  Don’t just fall into the routine of reporting why an incident happened instead turn those misses into actionable items that improve your data security

No data security program can ever be perfect, but if you keep evolving and learning from past mistakes and recognize opportunities, be open to tapping into the expertise of outside resources and engage employees and customers, you can develop a solid secure foundation.