If you want to summarize Pulse in a single word, I think that word would be cloud. Pulse had four key themes: cloud, mobility, smarter physical infrastructure and Security/compliance. But, more than anything, it was cloud, how customers are moving towards cloud, and the systems management challenges of cloud that seemed to be the common thread that linked it all together.
After the general session there were breakouts into the four primary threads. The kickoff for the could thread was a panel discussion that included customers and IBMers. The most interesting statement of the session was made by the CIO of American Greetings who said (and I'm just paraphrasing), that cloud was important to American Greetings because it was important that they be able to use cloud to provide the consistency, integrity, and stability to open systems platforms that people take for granted with the mainframe. The mainframe was a platform that everyone could count on and they wanted to use cloud to achieve that same reliability in their other computing platforms. Interesting perspective, isn't it?