"You certainly don't have many customers who at this point in time are saying, 'I am going to totally change the way the data center is going to run next week,'" said Illuminata's Haff. "This is going to take a lot of time and a lot of gaining of confidence and a lot of changing of business processes."
"This is a ten-year story, and we're in year two," Schadler said. "The vision is very strong and getting stronger. There's still work to be done on the results, but when you compare it against CA or HP or Sun, IBM is way ahead."
IBM executives say they're confident that the buzzword IBM has in the past year turned into its mantra will be a good guiding strategy for Big Blue and its customers.
"We had lost our way," Sanford said of IBM in the early 1990s, before Lou Gerstner arrived as CEO and began engineering a company turnaround. "We have a whole sheet of lessons learned, and they go all over the map. Whenever we really lost focus on the customer, we could veer down the wrong path. We learned, do not, do not, do not lose focus on the customer. With on-demand, we're keeping the customer foremost and doing what they tell us they need us to do."