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Still, DiDio sees two challenges IBM faces in the near-term: distinguishing and differentiating the PowerLinux solutions from its PowerAIX offerings, and beating back VMware's dominance in the server virtualization market. She predicts IBM will use its economies of scale to undercut VMware pricing.
From a competitive standpoint, DiDio said, IBM has scored impressive new customer wins -- particularly from among legacy Sun Microsystems customers who are disaffected over the changes Oracle has made to pricing, licensing and support contracts since 2010. But IBM will have to work harder, she said, to lure customers away from other server rivals like Hewlett-Packard or Dell and VMware, or Microsoft , Citrix and other x86 vendors in the virtualization space.
"IBM does have a clear-cut advantage when it comes to the intelligence that powers its systems. The much heralded Watson is leagues ahead of all comers in intelligent data analytics and is at the heart of IBM's Smarter Planet initiative," DiDio said.
"IBM is adapting Watson for all of its servers to perform accelerated, predictive analysis. The fact that IBM is now harnessing the power of Watson and making it available to the masses at an affordable price point augurs well for the mainstream success of its PowerLinux strategy."