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IBM's spectrum of new storage brands

IBM has rebranded storage products and introduced XIV as a software-only offering under a new overarching identity – IBM Spectrum. The decoder ring for these products is:

This name change will take a long time to become second nature for many in the storage industry. So, why change the names? Changes of product names occur more often than you might expect, and with greater frequency in some companies. There are common reasons for change. The first one is to reposition or re-launch a product or family. This can be effective in gaining attention and establishing a new direction for a product. The other is due to a change in the leadership of marketing. Some marketing leaders have a desire to establish a new order for their tenure and changing product names is often part of the makeover.

But, this rebranding by IBM is different. IBM has always had a collection of software and hardware storage products that have been developed independently, either internally or through acquired companies. The products typically served different purposes, although there have been overlaps. IBM famously had different organizations and sales for the different product areas, which made the products seem uncoordinated to their customers.

This re-branding is about moving to a coordinated portfolio of storage products. This change could be an important inflection point for IBM in storage. Managing a portfolio of products that can be incorporated into a set of integrated solutions for customers can lead to greater efficiencies in delivery.

Currently the portfolio does not include all of the high value offerings from IBM. Many customers have put their trust in IBM and purchased storage products that are integral to their business operations. Those customers expect IBM to continue to provide solutions to them and movement to an inclusive portfolio approach will be watched closely.

I think re-training to use new names will be difficult and frustrating. It will take time and require periodic referring to the decoder ring. But, it could be worth that if it really is a movement to a portfolio approach. The change in focus to having products to apply as a solution rather than independent software or hardware products can be positive for IBM. It is a major undertaking requiring changes at every level and with every message. It is a challenge.

(Randy Kerns is Senior Strategist at Evaluator Group, an IT analyst firm).