IBM Raises The Bar On Converged Infrastructure With PureFlex And PureApplication Integrated Offerings

IBM Jumps On CI With Both Feet

Over the last couple of years, IBM, despite having a rich internal technology ecosystem and a number of competitive blade and CI offerings, has not had a comprehensive integrated offering to challenge HP’s CloudSystem Matrix and Cisco’s UCS. This past week IBM effectively silenced its critics and jumped to the head of the CI queue with the announcement of two products, PureFlex and PureApplication, the results of a massive multi-year engineering investment in blade hardware, systems management, networking, and storage integration. Based on a new modular blade architecture and new management architecture, the two products are really more of a continuum of a product defined by the level of software rather than two separate technology offerings.

PureFlex is the base product, consisting of the new hardware (which despite having the same number of blades as the existing HS blade products, is in fact a totally new piece of hardware), which integrates both BNT-based networking as well as a new object-based management architecture which can manage up to four chassis and provide a powerful setoff optimization, installation, and self-diagnostic functions for the hardware and software stack up to and including the OS images and VMs. In addition IBM appears to have integrated the complete suite of Open Fabric Manager and Virtual Fabric for remapping MAC/WWN UIDs and managing VM networking connections, and storage integration via the embedded V7000 storage unit, which serves as both a storage pool and an aggregation point for virtualizing external storage. The laundry list of features and functions is too long to itemize here, but PureFlex, especially with its hypervisor-neutrality and IBM’s Cloud FastStart option, is a complete platform for an enterprise private cloud or a horizontal VM compute farm, however you choose to label a shared VM utility.

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UPDATED: The TD-LTE Standard Will Drive Positive Changes In The LTE Industry

Airtel launched India’s first 4G LTE services in Kolkata yesterday. Airtel delivers the service using TDD technology, making it one of the few operators globally to launch a TD-LTE network. The majority of commercial LTE launches are still based on FDD technology, which begs the question: What impact will TDD have on the LTE landscape? Will TD-LTE get support from equipment manufacturers, or will it suffer a fate similar to that of WiMAX? What does it mean for operators? I believe that TDD will affect the entire mobile ecosystem. Here’s how:

  • Price parity between paired and unpaired spectra. Both paired and unpaired spectra will be viewed as media that deliver wireless service irrespective of the underlying technology; this will drive price parity between the spectra. The dichotomy between the FDD spectrum (used primarily for coverage) and the TDD spectrum (mainly for capacity) will disappear as technological advancements make it possible to achieve similar capacity and coverage on both spectra. Consequently, the “spectrum crunch” may diminish, as any spectrum will be satisfactory for the deployment of mobile broadband services.
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Employees Are Shelling Out Big Bucks To Ditch IT

The term "individual contributor" covers a lot of ground -- from brain surgeon to the shipping and receiving clerk at your local Wal-Mart. I'm not sure which of these two is a better fit for a virtual desktop, or which one has a Mac at home, but I do know that the individual contributors who spent their own money on technology last year to do their jobs, shelled out $1,252.60 on hardware alone, and another $556.90 on software. That's a heap o' cash.

When we asked them why they spent the money, 42% said it was something they use in their personal lives that they wanted to use for work. Another 27% said their own equipment is better than what their companies provide (presumably CT scanners, portable defibrillators and Sony PSPs can be ruled out). How do their companies feel about them using their own devices and software? 48% said their firms would either not approve, or make them stop using it.

Of course we know the usual reasons why: Security and company policy, and the "benefits" of centralized IT and shared services, among others. I don't know about you, but I always found "shared services" to be a bit of a sham. You know how it works: the VP with the biggest, high-profile project gets all of the services, and the rest of the plebes get to "share" the table scraps. Want a copy of Microsoft Project or a new laptop for that customer service rep who starts next week? Sorry…Steve's program is using all of the Project licenses, and all we have left in the closet is Pentium II desktops…but they have ergonomic keyboards!

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Man Alive, It’s COBIT 5: How Are You Governing And Managing Enterprise IT?

You think that this blog title is bad? Be thankful that I didn’t try something like: “There’s No Obit For COBIT.”

Anyways, today sees ISACA (an international professional association for IT Governance) release COBIT 5 – the latest version of its internationally recognized “Business Framework for the Governance and Management of Enterprise IT.”

As in previous blogs such as “It’s Time To Realize That ITIL Is Not The Only Fruit,” the industry’s obsession with ITIL needs to be both tempered and supplemented with more pragmatic guidance on IT management and IT service management. COBIT can help with this in spades. In fact, some would argue that ITIL should be used to supplement COBIT – try some of Rob England’s (The IT Skeptic, and a great supporter of COBIT) short COBIT blog posts on for size: “The difference between ITIL and COBIT for consultants: four words” or “COBIT 5 will be released in April.”

So What’s New?

ISACA states that:

“COBIT 5 builds and expands on COBIT 4.1 by integrating other major frameworks, standards and resources, including ISACA’s Val IT and Risk IT, ITIL (“the IT service management best practice framework”) and related standards from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).”

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Dell Gets Thin: Words to the Wyse

On the night of his 18th birthday, Gregg Allman drew a bull's-eye on his shoe, then shot himself in the foot to avoid the draft. If next week, Forrester's IT department declared that I should be expecting a box with a thin client PC at my desk, and I would be expected to use it instead of my MacBook Air for work, I'd be drawing a bull's-eye but not on my shoe. It would be on the box.

I suspect most road warriors and office workers alike would feel the same way. Ever try to go to a meeting in a conference room with a thin client? It's bolted to your desk. As long as all of the information you ever need for meetings is crammed between your eustachian tubes, you're good to go. If however you're like the rest of us, there are benefits to taking your computer (and applications and data) with you, like showing more than one other person what you've been working on.

That's where client virtualization (as opposed to simply VDI) comes in, and it's in this context that Dell's acquisition of Wyse makes some sense. Wyse makes thin and zero clients, as most of us hopefully know, and surely not by pure coincidence…so does HP. But thin clients as a standalone tool for most of us, is a non-starter. But as part of a mosaic of virtualization technologies that taken together offer me my work environment no matter where I am, have potential.

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Are Macs Vulnerable? Wrong Question.

The misinformation and rhetoric surrounding the recent discovery of the Flashback trojan for Macs is vehement, and says more about the historically stable state of Mac security, and the irrational way many think about it than it reveals about its weaknesses. Even long-time industry observers, who should know better, are jumping into the fray to say: See! I told you so! The Mac is vulnerable! Well…duh…that's not exactly news, folks.

Of course the Mac is vulnerable. EVERY internet connected device is vulnerable. What matters is probability, frequency and potential impact. So the correct question then, is whether or not your prevention, detection and recovery mechanisms are effective. For example, I'm not convinced that traditional anti-virus approaches are right for the Mac. The track record of these tools in the Windows world is abysmal in my view. They're among the most intrusive technologies  to the user - hogging system resources and making even basic tasks impossible as they inspect every file, every day, often several times a day. And…they're reactive. Think: death by a thousand papercuts over a period of years, only to be interrupted by a rare strain of encephalitis, followed by a partial lobotomy and organ transplant to get the patient breathing again, and you're in the ballpark. Application whitelisting will hopefully come to be seen as a better approach.

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IT Service Management And ITIL Thinking – Brawn, Brains, Or Heart?

Some great IT service management (ITSM) conversations with BMC this week got me thinking about ITSM people “stereotypes” and what we can learn from them in terms of communication, education, and ITSM  tool selection. It started from my mental 2D matrix that plotted organizational ITSM tool need against the axes of organization size, e.g. enterprise, and level of ITSM maturity – with the latter, in my opinion, being a better gauge as to the ITSM tool that is most appropriate.

Conversations about the people within the organizations, however, made me wonder about the need for a third axis of “ITSM mindset” which could further better help to pin down the type of ITSM tool for a particular organization through a now-3D matrix.

Did Somebody Mention Stereotypes?

Oops, yes that was me. My imagination conjured up three stereotypes, and perhaps there are many more, but I liked that they leant themselves to a collective description of Brawn, Brain, and Heart (oh yes, it's a little "Wizard of Oz").

Where the stereotypes are:

  • Brawn– this describes the traditional IT Hero mentality, it’s all about you and the IT. Very much an IT-centric approach to IT delivery. Probably no concept of IT services and no interest whatsoever in ITIL (the ITSM best practice framework). It’s all about IT muscle in dealing with a never-ending stream of IT issues – the proverbial fire fighting. Talking to a Brawn about ITIL wastes everyone’s time, they will never be interested.
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To Better Compete Into 2012, Infrastructure And Operations Leaders Must Do Things Differently

As the saying goes, “If you’re not different from your competition, by definition you can’t be better.” IT infrastructure and operations (I&O) leaders should take this to heart.

In 2012, we enter the "the age of the customer" where increased global competition combined with technology-led disruption erodes traditional competitive barriers across all industries. At the same time, it's easier than ever for empowered employees and application developers to circumvent the I&O group to take advantage of new desktop, mobile, and tablet devices as well as cloud-based software and infrastructure you don’t support. They're creating their own "greenfield" environments without your help.

 It's time for I&O leaders to do things differently. This starts by dispelling the notion that greenfield opportunities require significant financial investment and organizational change or are limited to startups and build-outs in emerging markets. Greenfield opportunities present themselves in every corner of even the most established and mature businesses, and those greenfields can be small, iterative, and agile.

This year, we will dedicate Forrester's Infrastructure & Operations Forums to the theme of "Leapfrog Your Global Competition: Design Your Greenfield Infrastructure Today." Join us May 24 to 25 in Las Vegas and June 19 to 20 in Paris as we tackle everything you need to capitalize on your greenfield opportunities of every scale across data center, desktop, mobile, and IT operations environments.
 

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Citrix Breaks Away From OpenStack

Today's move by Citrix to put its CloudStack IaaS solution into the Apache Foundation says more about the state of the cloud market than it does about OpenStack. As our Fall 2011 Forrsights Hardware Survey shows, about 36% of enterprise IT leaders are prioritizing and planning to invest in IaaS this year. That means they need solutions today and thus service providers and cloud software vendors need answers they can take to market now. OpenStack, while progressing well, simply isn't at this point yet.

Second, Citrix needed to clarify the position of its current open source–based solution. Ever since Citrix joined OpenStack, its core technology has been in somewhat of a limbo state. The code in cloudstack.org overlaps with a lot of the OpenStack code base, and Citrix's official stance had been that when OpenStack was ready, it would incorporate it. This made it hard for a service provider or enterprise to bet on CloudStack today, under fear that they would have to migrate to OpenStack over time. That might still happen, as Citrix has kept the pledge to incorporate OpenStack software if and when the time is right but they are clearly betting their fortunes on cloudstack.org's success. 
 
There are myriad other benefits that come from this move. Two of the biggest are:
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