At its recent financial analyst day, AMD indicated that it intended to differentiate itself by creating products that were advantaged in niche markets, with specific mention, among other segments, of servers, and to generally shake up the trench warfare that has had it on the losing side of its lifelong battle with Intel (my interpretation, not AMD management’s words). Today, at least for the server side of the business AMD made a move that can potentially offer it visibility and differentiation by acquiring innovative server startup SeaMicro.
SeaMicro has attracted our attention since its appearance (blog post 1, blog post 2), with its innovative architecture that dramatically reduces power and improves density by sharing components like I/O adapters, disks, and even BIOS over a proprietary fabric. The irony here is that SeaMicro came to market with a tight alignment with Intel, who at one point even introduced a special dual-core packaging of its Atom CPU to allow SeaMicro to improve its density and power efficiency. Most recently SeaMicro and Intel announced a new model that featured Xeon CPUs to address the more mainstream segments that were not for SeaMicro’s original Atom-based offering.
“ITIL, ITIL, ITIL” is all that many of us hear these days when it comes to improving IT service management (ITSM) maturity or the availability of ITSM good/best practice and guidance (for the "Little Britain" fans out there imagine Tom Baker reading this intro). Many talk (and write) about the alternative or complementary frameworks, methodologies, and standards; but neither COBIT nor ISO 20000 (amongst others) have yet gained the market traction and collective consciousness of ITIL, the “ITSM best practice framework.”
ITIL is and will continue to be the de facto choice for most IT infrastructure and operations (I&O) professionals. Having said this, however, many I&O organizations continue to look at the possibilities of using multiple frameworks, methodologies, and standards in tandem to help better deliver against business and IT issues – what is commonly called an “ITIL plus” or “plus” strategy, e.g., ITIL plus COBIT.
Another body of service management good/best practice, the Universal Service Management Body of Knowledge (USMBOK), has long been lauded by ITSM thought leaders; but it has, to date, lacked the profile of ITIL in particular. Importantly, it works with, and is differentiated from, ITIL – it is not an ITIL competitor, more of a “companion piece” that supplements ITIL on both strategic and operational levels. Hopefully you noticed the deliberate naming of USMBOK – that there is no “IT” in it. It is about service management not IT service management – a solution to the issue that we often place too much emphasis on the “IT,” and not enough on the “SM,” element of “ITSM.”
On Monday, February 13, HP announced its next turn of the great wheel for servers with the announcement of its Gen8 family of servers. Interestingly, since the announcement was ahead of Intel’s official announcement of the supporting E5 server CPUs, HP had absolutely nothing to say about the CPUs or performance of these systems. But even if the CPU information had been available, it would have been a sideshow to the main thrust of the Gen8 launch — improving the overall TCO (particularly Opex) of servers by making them more automated, more manageable, and easier to remediate when there is a problem, along with enhancements to storage, data center infrastructure management (DCIM) capabilities, and a fundamental change in the way that services and support are delivered.
With a little more granularity, the major components of the Gen8 server technology announcement included:
Onboard Automation – A suite of capabilities and tools that provide improved agentless local intelligence to allow quicker and lower labor cost provisioning, including faster boot cycles, “one click” firmware updates of single or multiple systems, intelligent and greatly improved boot-time diagnostics, and run-time diagnostics. This is apparently implemented by more powerful onboard management controllers and pre-provisioning a lot of software on built-in flash memory, which is used by the onboard controller. HP claims that the combination of these tools can increase operator productivity by up to 65%. One of the eye-catching features is an iPhone app that will scan a code printed on the server and go back through the Insight Management Environment stack and trigger the appropriate script to provision the server.[i]Possibly a bit of a gimmick, but a cool-looking one.
Right now, the internet probably seems like the Wild West. Hackers are roaming around, seemingly attacking websites on a whim. Most recently, groups like Anonymous, the Jester, and Lulz Security (LulzSec – now supposedly disbanded) have been attacking and successfully taking down web sites of all types. Government and corporate, public and private, anybody seems as though they can be a target for these attacks. While their reasons for attacking a site range from political statement to simply for the fun of it, hacktivists and black hat trouble makers alike, the end result is that hacking is now a real cause of downtime.
The Dell brand is one of the most recognizable in technology. It was born a hardware company in 1984 and deservedly rocketed to fame, but it has always been about the hardware. In 2009, its big Perot Systems acquisition marked the first real departure from this hardware heritage. While it made numerous software acquisitions, including some good ones like Scalent, Boomi, and KACE, it remains a marginal player in software. That is about to change.
Data centers, like any other aspect of real estate, follow the age-old adage of “location, location, location,” and if you want to build one that is really efficient in terms of energy consumption as well as possessing all the basics of reliability, you have to be really picky about ambient temperatures, power availability and, if your business is hosting for others rather than just needing one for yourself, potential expansion. If you want to achieve a seeming impossibility – a zero carbon footprint to satisfy increasingly draconian regulatory pressures – you need to be even pickier. In the end, what you need is:
Low ambient temperature to reduce your power requirements for cooling.
Someplace where you can get cheap “green” energy, and lots of it.
A location with adequate network connectivity, both in terms of latency as well as bandwidth, for global business.
A cooperative regulatory environment in a politically stable venue.
It started as a blog called Giving Back To The IT Service Management Community – a personal plea for anyone involved in IT operations, IT service delivery, IT support, etc., to “give back” to the larger community. Hopefully it highlighted (or reminded us of) the need for the creation of lower-level, more granular, and ultimately more practical best/good practice information that is freely available to IT service management (ITSM) practitioners; as a quick start mechanism and/or to prevent the continued reinvention of the wheel by organizations wishing to better themselves.
Many (OK, some) ask “Where has this gone?” or “Where is the free content?” Great questions, but ones that I will conveniently avoid (hopefully like a skilled politician); although others involved, I expect and hope, will provide updates on this in the comments section below.
To some Back2ITSM might appear yet another forum for “the usual suspects” (bagsy me be Verbal Kint) to “socialize” themselves to their ultimate downfall. However, I beg to differ. I feel that this has legs, no matter how short those legs might eventually be; which brings me to the reasons for this quickly written blog:
I still need to feedback the limited but interesting responses to the Back2ITSM survey.
I want to publicize some Back2ITSM “coming soons.”
When I very briefly joined TCS (Tata Consultancy Services) as an IT service management (ITSM) consultant a year ago today, I met a fellow new recruit Sandy Winschief – a vendor/supplier management specialist armed with a pair of Six Sigma black belts. Sandy was/is a key piece in TCS’ Service Integration offering jigsaw and someone who made me think more about the relationships between IT infrastructure and operations (I&O) organizations and their suppliers.
Sorry, you said, “Service Integration”?
For those new to Service Integration I offer the following “definition” from a Forrester colleague’s “thinking”:
“To make multisourcing arrangements effective, customers must get suppliers to work together, both from the commercial and operational standpoint. The services integration layer, comprising elements of process, tools, service-level agreements (SLAs), and related structures, is absolutely critical to the success of these arrangements.”