In an email message addressed to me and a number of other recipients over the weekend, Platform Computing CEO Songnian Zhou referred to a blog post he wrote — he jokingly referred to it as the “world’s most long-winded” — that explains why and how his company’s acquisition by IBM unfolded.
The post covers Platform’s 19-year chronology as well as the big-picture evolution of distributed computing. It’s a good read, well worth checking out. Zhou knows his subject matter well, writes in a refreshingly jargon- and hype-free style, and he covers a lot of ground. What’s more, the post isn’t nearly as prolix as he make it out to be.
Breaking It Down
As for how the acquisition came about, Zhou explains that it was driven by market dynamics and technological advances:
“The foundation of this acquisition is the ever expanding technical computing market going mainstream. IDC has been tracking this technical computing systems market segment at $14B, or 20% of the overall systems market. It is growing at 8%/year, or twice the growth rate of servers overall. Both IDC and users also point out that the biggest bottleneck to wider adoption is the complexity of clusters and grids, and thus the escalating needs for middleware and management software to hide all the moving parts and just deliver IT as a service. You see, it’s well worth paying a little for management software to get the most out of your hardware. Platform has a single mission: to rapidly deliver effective distributed computing management software to the enterprise. On our own, especially in the early days when going was tough, we have been doing a pretty good job for some enterprises in some parts of the world. But, we are only 536 heroes. Combined with IBM, we can get to all the enterprises worldwide. We have helped our customers to run their businesses better, faster, cheaper. After 19 years, IBM convinced us that there can also be a “better, faster, cheaper” way to help more customers and to grow our business. As they say, it’s all about leverage and scale.”
In a previous post I wrote about acquisition, I wondered, as have others, about how IBM’s ownership of Platform and its technology might affect the latter’s ability to support heterogeneous systems encompassing servers from IBM’s competitors. Zhou suggests that won’t be a problem, that a post-acquisition Platform “will work even harder to add value to our partners, including IBM’s competitors.”
That said, even assuming that IBM takes a systems-centric view with Platform, continuing to allow the acquired company to support heterogeneous environments, one has to wonder whether Dell, HP and others will be as receptive to Platform as they were before. It’s a fair question, and those vendors, as well as Platform’s installed base of customers, ultimately will provide the answer.