AMD Acquires SeaMicro — Big Bet On Architectural Shift For Servers

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.

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Amazon's New Simple Workflow Service

Yesterday, Amazon launched an adjunct to its successful Amazon Web Service (AWS) elastic cloud offering. While we don’t normally comment on every product release, this one is significant — primarily because of who is doing it. The Simple Workflow service (SWF) clearly has nothing to do with Adobe’s Flash offering (although techno-nerds may initially think so, given the acronym).

So what was this all about? The business model is certainly interesting: an elastic, configurable workflow capability that’s distributed across any number of access points. Essentially, this will allow an organization to orchestrate processes in the cloud, linking participants up and down the value chain.

“Amazon Simple Workflow Service (Amazon SWF) is a workflow service for building scalable, resilient applications. Whether automating business processes for finance or insurance applications, building sophisticated data analytics applications, or managing cloud infrastructure services, Amazon SWF reliably coordinates all of the processing steps within an application.”

Pricing is initially free and then transitions into a blended, low-cost consumption model, with charges oriented around execution steps, bandwidth usage, how long the task is active, and signals/markers, etc. With usage charges at around $0.0001 per execution step, this gives you an idea of how small the operating overhead might be.

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Suddenly, Dell Is A Software Company!

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.

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Two Truths And A Lie: Software Development In 2020

When getting introduced to a new subject or new people, we sometimes play a game called "two truths and a lie." The basics of the game are simple: Anyone introducing a subject - or themselves - states two truths and one lie. The audience then has to identify what the lie is. 

Below, you will find three bullets related to our future of software development research. Two are truths as identified by our research, one is a lie: 

  • Software's fueling today's disruption, becoming embedded in everything to make technology useful, usable, and desirable.  
  • Software development expertise will increasingly be centered on Java, .NET, and proprietary development and application platforms. 
  • The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects software-development-related roles and jobs to increase at double the national average through 2020. 
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Will Emerging Markets Bypass The US On Cloud?

South Korea has better broadband than we do. Australia has faster wireless networks. And according to Forrester’s Internet Population Forecast, by 2013 the number of online consumers in emerging markets will dwarf those in the US and Western Europe. In Forrester’s Forrsights Budgets and Priorities survey, these same countries are putting far more priority on cloud computing than we are. Does this mean we could lose our lead in cloud?

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Cloud Adoption In Asia Pacific: Strong Signs Of Progress, But Not Everywhere

As of late 2011, more than half the organizations we surveyed in Asia Pacific excluding Japan (APEJ) are either currently using or actively planning cloud initiatives — 52% in fact. This number has nearly tripled since 2009.

But adoption rates alone don’t tell the whole story. Vendor strategists should also be closely tracking how organizations evolve from ad hoc, disjointed cloud projects to well-defined, effectively managed cloud procurement. Our recent survey results indicate a surprising degree of maturity across the region — along with some clear areas for growth.

  

Highlights: 

  • Centralized IT procurement of cloud services varies widely across the region. Australia (82%) and India (83%) currently lead in driving centralized procurement and management of cloud services through IT. Both markets are well above the regional average of 74%. This is no surprise for Australia, which is the most mature market for cloud computing in the region. But the strong results for India are surprising, and indicate the strong potential for a sharp increase in demand for cloud services over the next six to 12 months as early projects begin delivering positive returns. Only 66% of respondents in China are currently centralizing cloud procurement and management — not unexpected given the relative lag in cloud adoption in China relative to other APEJ markets.
  • Organizations in China are least likely to have a formal cloud strategy in place. Fifty-six percent of respondents in China currently see unsanctioned buying by the business outside of IT. This is the highest rate in APEJ by far, where the average is 35% and there are lows of 23% in Australia and 25% in Singapore.
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Pushing The Envelope - SeaMicro Introduces Low-Power Xeon Servers

In late 2010 I noted that startup SeaMicro had introduced an ultra-dense server using Intel Atom chips in an innovative fabric-based architecture that allowed them to factor out much of the power overhead from a large multi-CPU server ( http://blogs.forrester.com/richard_fichera/10-09-21-little_servers_big_applications_intel_developer_forum). Along with many observers, I noted that the original SeaMicro server was well-suited to many light-weight edge processing tasks, but that the system would not support more traditional compute-intensive tasks due to the performance of the Atom core. I was, however, quite taken with the basic architecture, which uses a proprietary high-speed (1.28 Tb/s) 3D mesh interconnect to allow the CPU cores to share network, BIOS and disk resources that are normally replicated on a per-server in conventional designs, with commensurate reductions in power and an increase in density.

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Deutsche Telekom Demonstrates Willingness For Cultural Change As Part Of Innovation Drive

I attended Trend Forum 2012 last week in Bonn, effectively an analyst day where Deutsche Telekom presented its innovation strategy. There was no focus on overall group strategy. Still, innovation matters greatly as part of the repositioning efforts of telcos. As the role of telcos in the value chain is weakening, largely due to increasing competition by over-the-top providers (OTTPs), telcos need to differentiate themselves increasingly via service provision and their ability to innovate quickly and prolifically. Failure to do so will cement their status as transport utilities for OTTPs.

Deutsche Telekom’s Core Beliefs focus on: a) building its platform business by partnering with software firms; b) leveraging the cloud by providing high QoS and secure connectivity; and c) leverage differentiating terminals through device management and customer experience provision. These Core Beliefs form the basis for pursuing its focus growth segments in digital media distribution, cloud storage, cross-device digital advertising, classified marketplaces, and mobile payment in addition to the core telco business. These targets match up well against our evaluation of best cloud markets for telcos.

A defining characteristic of next-generation network (NGN) infrastructure and the move towards cloud-based business models is openness. As a consequence, OTTPs increasingly deal directly with end customers across the network. Relationships between telcos and other members of value chain become more complex. Emerging cloud services by telcos need to become network agnostic to deliver cross-network solutions and ensure cloud interoperability. Deutsche Telekom has made significant progress in the recent past to adapt its strategy to these new telco realities.

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