Some days the jokes write themselves.
Did they mean “Second-Class Enterprise Life”?
It’s like Second Life, only more expensive, with even fewer people, and minus the interesting bits?
Can “Enterprise-Class World of Warcraft” be far behind? “Enterprise-Class Grand Theft Auto”?
Imagine the resplendently rendered virtual bus that drives up to your virtual headquarters full of virtual consultants…
Coming soon no doubt: a push for the mainframe to run your enterprise-class Second Life. (IBM’s mainframe site is a barrel of laughs all by itself. Slogan: “The Future Runs on System z”. And don’t miss Destination Z, “A vibrant community to help you make the most of your mainframe” featuring stock photography of cool kids at least three decades younger than the average mainframe operator. But I digress.)
It is a clever financial move. Once you’ve realized the cost savings from off-shoring your consultants, the next obvious step is to replace them with software agents that can be infinitely replicated and don’t need salaries. A people business like consulting scales profitably when you get rid of the people. Who will know in a virtual world? Suggestion: start giving any consultants bidding for your business a Turing Test. Prepare now for the inevitable.
Meanwhile, on a more serious note, timesharing is back with a vengeance yet there is no sign IBM has ambitions to be a major player in the cloud computing era. Instead they’re fiddling with avatars while the on-premise business starts a long, slow burn. Where is the “one billion dollar” data center capex announcement that signals their ambition to play with the Amazons, Googles and Microsofts? Perhaps it is harder to make a “billion dollar” commitment when it requires real dollars as opposed to “soft” and/or exaggerated dollars? Or has IBM committed all its free cash flow to financial engineering, forcing them to watch the next generation of computing from the sidelines? Selling servers and consultants by the hour is a far cry from offering (anything)-as-a-service. In the cloud world, if you build it as a vendor, you also have to be willing to operate it at scale. And enterprise-scale is dwarfed by Internet-scale, so enterprise chops are not enough. Outsourcing “your mess for less” isn’t a service. One can only speculate that virtual conference rooms in Second Life are inhibiting IBM’s ability to define their strategy. I am still hoping they do OnDemand 2.0 and kill two birds with one slogan.