A Killer Disease? IT’s Unhealthy Obsession With Itself

While sitting at a hotel desk at “silly o’clock” this morning preparing for the Forrester I&O Forum in Las Vegas, I saw a Tweet from Ian Aitchison of LANDesk that was an obvious but little realized truth:

“Is the IT industry unique in its obsession with its own possible future demise? The sky is always falling in. #ITRapture”

IMO the average IT organization does appear to be somewhat Chicken Little-like and my response of “I think it is because IT is obsessed with itself :)” started me off …

While we have not necessarily fallen in love with our own reflection, it is difficult to argue that we are not overly obsessed with what WE are doing rather than what the business is doing – as per yesterday’s blog  “Why Is IT Operations Like Pizza Delivery?”

Consider this exaggerated story

You meet two people at a soiree (that’s a posh cocktail party BTW). The first introduces themselves: “Hi, I’m Ian. I work for LANDesk. I do all sorts of product marketing nonsense.” The second does the same. Well, I say the same; there’s a big difference – “Hi, I’m Stephen. I work in IT.”

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Why Is IT Operations Like Pizza Delivery?

Whilst with a software vendor yesterday I reused a favorite IT service delivery analogy that was inspired by, or was it borrowed from, James Finister at least two years ago. At the Forrester I&O Forum in Las Vegas this Thursday I will use it again when Glenn O'Donnell and I present on "A Mindset Change Is Needed: Support The People, Not The Technology."

To me the analogy is indicative of the fact that despite all of the investments organizations have made in increasing IT service management maturity and IT service delivery we still seem to measure our relative success in terms of IT rather than business outcomes.

So consider this somewhat frivolous analogy: comparing IT operations to pizza delivery operations

The pizza company has a palatial store and has invested in the best catering equipment (read state-of-the-art data center). It employs highly-qualified chefs who take pride in creating culinary masterpieces. When the pizza leaves the store it scores ten out of ten on the internal measurement system. This is, however, measuring at the point of creation rather than the point of consumption.

Now consider the customer view of the pizza when it arrives: it is late, cold, has too much cheese, the wrong toppings (even toppings that are unrecognizable to the customer), and it costs more than the customer expected (and wanted) to pay.

How much of this example can be applied to IT delivery?

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Private Cloud: 'Everyone’s Got One. Where’s Yours?'

Sound familiar? Executives across the globe feel peer and competitive pressure to “get to yes” on private cloud. This burden falls on IT to provide a cloud solution — oh, and by the way, we need it by the end of the year. With this clock ticking, it’s hard to think about private cloud strategically. In fact, why not to just cloudwash your virtual environment and buy your team time? Many enterprises (yes, even those presenting at events) have gone down this road. And some vendors will suggest this as a short-term fix. DON’T DO IT.

You’re cutting yourself short on what you could achieve with this environment while losing credibility with the business and your peers. Sound overdramatic? The consumerization of IT is forcing IT to connect with the business or risk circumvention. For many, the existing relationship isn't great. And each future interaction could either improve or worsen that relationship. Promising the business a cloud delivered within your own data center, and then failing to provide basic functionality of a cloud will just make future initiatives and interactions even harder. In the meantime, the business will continue to circumvent your department. If you're going to invest the resources/time to build this environment and rope in rogue cloud users — make sure you get to cloud.

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The Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse For Client Management Vendors

Those of you paying attention in Sunday School may remember this thing called the apocalypse. Earl Robert Maze II was my Sunday School teacher, and he may be the most fearsome schoolmaster ever to scratch a chalkboard. One spitwad and there was sure to be a rapture. Mr. Maze would get pretty wrapped up in the lesson of the day and we'd all have to keep at least one eye on him as he paced back and forth. Not because we were worried about being asked a question, but because as he paced and talked, he'd build up globs of white something or other in the corners of his mouth, and every so often one of them would take flight and land on some unsuspecting front row pupil's hand, to their horror.

As luck would have it, I was late to class on the day Mr. Maze deemed that we were, at last, ready for the book of Revelation; I took the last seat -- In the front row -- Right in the line of fire. Sure enough, he was so worked up by the time he got to the part about the divine apocalypse, that one of those white gobs of goop chose that moment to set itself free and was headed for me like a heat-seeking missile. There was nothing I could do! And so to this day, the term apocalypse conjures up a frightening memory for me.

Which brings me to the current situation in the client management vendor landscape. The apocalypse was to be foretold by four horsemen representing conquest, war, famine and death (if you've ever worked for a company whose business has been disrupted, as I have, you've probably met with all four!). The four horsemen before us now in the client management market in the second quarter of 2012, are:

  1. The explosion of tablets and smart phones.
  2. The elusive management of client virtualization.
  3. SaaS-based client management vendors (see Windows inTune).
  4. New application delivery models (app stores, virtualized apps, etc).
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NVIDIA's VGX: Traction Control for Hosted Virtual Desktops

Driving in the snow is an experience normally reserved for those of us denizens of the northern climes who haven't yet figured out how to make a paycheck mixing Mai Tais in the Caymans. Behind the wheel in the snow, everything happens a little slower. Turn the wheel above 30 on the speedo and it could be a second or two before the car responds, and you'll overshoot the turn and take out the neighbor's shrubs.

Hosted Virtual Desktops are a bit like driving in the snow. Every link in the chain between the data on a hard drive in the datacenter and the pixels on the user's screen introduces a delay that the user perceives as lag, and the laws of physics apply. Too much lag or too much snow and it's hard to get anywhere, as citizens of Anchorage, Alaska after this years' record snowfalls, or anyone trying to use a hosted virtual desktop half a world away from the server will testify.

NVIDIA Brings Gaming Know-How to HVD
Last week I spent a day with NVIDIA's soft-spoken, enthusiastic CEO, Jensen Huang who put the whole latency issue for VDI into a practical perspective (thanks Jensen). These days, he says, home game consoles run about 100-150 milliseconds from the time a player hits the fire button to the time they see their plasma cannon blast away an opponent on the screen. For comparison, the blink of an eye is 200-400 milliseconds, and the best gamers can react to things they see on screen as fast as 50 milliseconds.

Latency in HVD is a Killer

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To Be Private Cloud, Or Be Public Cloud: Is That Really The Question?

Shakespeare wrote in his famous play Hamlet,"Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them? To die: to sleep; No more." He of course was talking about the betrayal in his family but the quote is just as appropriate today in the world of cloud computing. Because in the minds of many I&O professionals, the business is conducting the betrayal

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2012 Huawei Global Analyst Summit: Consumer Device Strategy Will Indirectly Benefit Core Business

Huawei hosted about 160 industry and financial analysts at its ninth annual analyst summit in Shenzhen, China in April 2012. The main takeaway for its consumer devices business was that consumer devices complete the end-to-end pitch for Huawei. Huawei showcased its growing capabilities across the wireless industry value chain. Most notably, Huawei made a foray into the smart devices domain with its own brand of smartphones and tablets. In 2011, Huawei shipped 20 million smartphones and 60 million mobile broadband devices like dongles. The smartphone market is already overcrowded with heavyweights such as Apple, Samsung, Nokia, and Motorola; thus, it might seem that Huawei may not be able to make a very profitable business from selling these devices. However, we believe that this move will bring indirect benefits to Huawei’s core Carrier Network division in the following two ways:

  • It spurs the uptake of smart mobile devices. Among all companies, Huawei is best suited to leverage manufacturing capabilities in its homeland, China, to mass-produce smart devices. Moreover, as it can manufacture processors in-house through its HiSilicon subsidiary, it can control and reduce the overall price of these devices. As price is a major buying criterion for consumers in regions like China, India, and the Southeast Asian countries, Huawei will be able to expedite the uptake of devices in these countries. Subsequently, the demand for data will increase and telecom operators in these countries will need to upgrade or roll out new technologies and networks (HSPA+, TD-LTE, FDD-LTE, dual-mode networks, etc.). This is where Huawei will benefit, as it will be able to position itself as an end-to-end supplier for telecom operators including hardware, professional and managed services, security solutions, servers, and storage.
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2012 Huawei Global Analyst Summit: Carrier Networks' Business Is Shifting From Hardware To Software

Huawei hosted about 160 industry and financial analysts at its ninth annual analyst summit in Shenzhen, China in April 2012. The event showed us that Huawei’s carrier network activities are becoming increasingly software-focused. Huawei is building up its network software and professional services capabilities. This drive is reflected in its SoftCom solution, driven by the cloud computing delivery model in the network space. Huawei is well aware of the role software will play for future distributed and virtualized network infrastructure and network-centric solutions, where the data center is effectively becoming the phone switch for ICT solutions. In fact, Huawei goes as far as to say that hardware will be fairly commoditized and that differentiation will be based on software. Huawei is a member of more than 130 industry standard-defining bodies; as such, it influences the development of industry standards. Huawei maintains its own silicon chip fabrication capabilities (HiSilicon), which help deliver opex reductions and greater energy efficiency as part of its networking solutions for wired and wireless (WiFi, WiMAX, and LTE) environments. Huawei has been designing and assembling servers for a decade and offers blade and rack configurations designed to support cloud and virtualization environments. Huawei’s security solutions, greatly enhanced by Huawei buying the remaining 49% stake in its Huawei Symantec joint venture recently, include firewall, VPNs, intrusion detection, application gateways, and unified threat management. Huawei also works with other leading ICT vendors to deliver solutions according to customer requirements. Huawei’s GalaX Cloud operating system delivers large scale virtualization capability for compute and storage resources in a cloud deployment. Huawei assists carriers and enterprise customers with design implementation and operation of deployments through its SmartCare Services solution, which monitors and ensures the

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2012 Huawei Global Analyst Summit: Enterprise is Part of the Plan

Henry Dewing with Dan Bieler, Katyayan Gupta, Tirthankar Sen, and Bryan Wang

 

                                           Buldings on Huawei's Headquarters Campus in Shenzen, China

  • Huawei continues its drive for more financial openness and transparency. In an effort to shed the image of a secretive non-listed company, Huawei provided detailed information about its financial and operational performance. In 2011 Huawei grew revenues by 12% to reach US$32.4bn and EBIT by 9% to US$3bn. The main regional growth was registered in Latin America, while a 9% cash margin was the result of their investment levels – particularly in the enterprise space. These financial figures paint the picture of a company that is still enjoying strong growth and sufficient free cash-flow to fund its expansion and innovation.
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ARM Arrives – Calxeda Shows Real Hardware Running Linux

I said last year that this would happen sometime in the first half of this year, but for some reason my colleagues and clients have kept asking me exactly when we would see a real ARM server running a real OS. How about now?

 To copy from Calxeda’s most recent blog post:

“This week, Calxeda is showing a live Calxeda cluster running Ubuntu 12.04 LTS on real EnergyCore hardware at the Ubuntu Developer and Cloud Summit events in Oakland, CA. … This is the real deal; quad-core, w/ 4MB cache, secure management engine, and Calxeda’s fabric all up and running.”

This is a significant milestone for many reasons. It proves that Calxeda can indeed deliver a working server based on its scalable fabric architecture, although having HP signing up as a partner meant that this was essentially a non-issue, but still, proof is good. It also establishes that at least one Linux distribution provider, in this case Ubuntu, is willing to provide a real supported distribution. My guess is that Red Hat and Centos will jump on the bus fairly soon as well.

Most importantly, we can get on with the important work of characterizing real benchmarks on real systems with real OS support. HP’s discovery centers will certainly play a part in this process as well, and I am willing to bet that by the end of the summer we will have some compelling data on whether the ARM server will deliver on its performance and energy efficiency promises. It’s not a slam dunk guaranteed win – Intel has been steadily ratcheting up its energy efficiency, and the latest generation of x86 server from HP, IBM, Dell, and others show promise of much better throughput per watt than their predecessors. Add to that the demonstration of a Xeon-based system by Sea Micro (ironically now owned by AMD) that delivered Xeon CPUs at a 10 W per CPU power overhead, an unheard of efficiency.

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