Plato used to define the human species as "featherless bipeds". This thought came to me this afternoon as I stood looking at the Venus de Milo in The Louvre (I'm in Paris for Forrester's I&O Forum) and pondered what Microsoft was about to unleash on all of us. Why, might you ask? Well, as the story goes, Diogenes (the guy who invented cynicism) plucked a chicken, brought it into Plato's Academy and declared: "Behold: I have brought you a man!" After this incident, "with broad flat nails" was added to Plato's definition.
It struck me that that's pretty much what Microsoft and its OEM partners have been doing to us with tablets for a number of years now. "Behold! I have brought you a tablet!" But of course, now we know that a "tablet" is a device that we can use with nothing more than fingers with broad, flat nails.
But there's more. Microsoft's ability to respond in its modern day Peloponnesian War with Apple, has been hampered by three things:
The PC OEM vendors remain one (maybe two!) steps behind Apple in making well-differentiated hardware. To wit: Ultrabooks are just now beginning to match the MacBook Air, and no one else has a Retina Display in their lineups.
They haven't had an operating system for tablets without styli or mice, or that will run longer than a few hours away from a power outlet.
The upgrade process for Windows PCs is labor-intensive. IT organizations upgrade operating systems only when Microsoft forces them to, so end users are frustrated. Nearly half of organizations are still on Windows XP 11 years after its release.
Virtualized workloads need virtualized network optimization to deliver peak performance wherever users work. We already have cloud-ready mobile applications, thanks to tremendous advances in server and storage virtualization in the last decade. And we certainly have cloud-ready users — they’re already more mobile and cloud-ready than most of our infrastructure. It's high time the network catches up, but the reality is that most existing networks still rely on point solutions that optimize performance for a limited set of applications.
WAN optimization and application delivery controllers have certainly proven their worth, but rigid appliance architectures have led to pockets of redundant optimization components, from the data center to the branch to the laptop. These "islands of optimization" should be the target of the next generation of network architectures. Just as server and storage virtualization freed up compute and storage capacity that was previously tightly linked to one server, array, or application, new network architectures must free up all the network optimization capacity currently locked up in point devices.
If you’re interested in how to rethink your approach to IT infrastructure and operations (I&O) to help your business better compete, I encourage you to read on . . .
As I prepared for Forrester’s Infrastructure & Operations Forum EMEA 2012 in Paris next week (June 19-20), I had the opportunity to connect with one of our industry keynoters, Christophe Guillard, who has led the CTO office at global healthcare company Sanofi since 2010. He is responsible for the strategic, financial, and process excellence of the New Global Infrastructure Services organization, which includes 800 collaborators, 110,000 users, and 400 sites worldwide.
At the Forum, Christophe will be joined by Ian M. Clayton, author, Universal Service Management Body of Knowledge, Gery Bonte, CTO, Saint-Gobain, and other industry keynoters. Next week, Christophe will share the comprehensive infrastructure transformation that took place at Sanofi. But below is a recap of our conversation that he will discuss further during his keynote:
DW: What were the main challenges you were faced with before you started this transformation?
CG: We embarked on our global IT transformation journey two years ago and, at the time, Sanofi IT was aligned to the structure of the company and mostly siloed within each business. As a result, collaboration across the different businesses and geographies was limited and some parts of our IT infrastructure were duplicated.
Jason Hurd is the son of an Idaho backcountry bush pilot, stands about 6' 5" tall and runs an aircraft maintenance shop at the Erie Municipal Airport in Colorado - about a mile as the crow flies from my office. Airplanes are in his blood, and you'd be hard-pressed to find a more interesting character or competent mechanic anywhere. His shop is not the cheapest around, but pilots who value their lives know that Jason's is the place to go if they want a thorough inspection and the work done right the first time. When an aircraft breaks down, the pilot can't just pull over to the side of the road, hop out and fix it. In fact, aircraft maintenance is about as mission-critical as it gets. Oh, and it's heavily regulated and operates on razor-thin margins, too.
His mechanics are all first-rate - Jason sees to that with high standards and expectations for both hiring and conduct. The shop is spotless and his employees are both competent and courteous. He runs a tight ship. What I find most fascinating when I visit his shop though is the incredible amount of money that his employees have spent on their tools. The rolling tool boxes ($8,500 each…without the tools) are painted with blazing yellow paint, and festooned with chrome Snap-On logos. But the real money is inside; the value of the tools can easily reach $50,000 or more - all paid for by the mechanics themselves, and each mechanic earns maybe $45,000 per year in salary - much less when they're fresh out of aviation school. And…when they're new to the job and making the least money is when they have to start building their tool inventories.
Earlier this week at its Discover customer event, HP announced a significant set of improvements to its already successful c-Class BladeSystem product line, which, despite continuing competitive pressure from IBM and the entry of Cisco into the market three years ago, still commands approximately 50% of the blade market. The significant components of this announcement fall into four major functional buckets – improved hardware, simplified and expanded storage features, new interconnects and I/O options, and serviceability enhancements. Among the highlights are:
Direct connection of HP 3PAR storage – One of the major drawbacks for block-mode storage with blades has always been the cost of the SAN to connect it to the blade enclosure. With the ability to connect an HP 3PAR storage array directly to the c-Class enclosure without any SAN components, HP has reduced both the cost and the complexity of storage for a wide class of applications that have storage requirements within the scope of a single storage array.
New blades – With this announcement, HP fills in the gaps in their blade portfolio, announcing a new Intel Xeon EN based BL-420 for entry requirements, an upgrade to the BL-465 to support the latest AMD 16-core Interlagos CPU, and the BL-660, a new single-width Xeon E5 based 4-socket blade. In addition, HP has expanded the capacity of the sidecar storage blade to 1.5 TB, enabling an 8-server and 12 TB + chassis configuration.
It’s no secret enterprises are using both private and public cloud. In fact, if you’re not, it’s hurting your business and IT organization because your competition is. In Forrester’s 2011 ForrSights Hardware Survey, 12% of respondents indicated that they had fully deployed private clouds, and 24% indicated that their business is using public cloud services. The real question today is, how mature are you in your overall cloud computing strategy? And are you holding back your company’s use of public cloud to get them to use your private cloud?
This is a mistake you can’t afford to make because as we detail in our latest report, “” your private and public cloud efforts should be separate, parallel paths. The numbers above show that the public cloud adoption path is moving at a rate of speed much faster than most companies' private cloud efforts —so you need to harness this, not try to restrain it. Your business is using public cloud services, regardless of whether your organization approves it or not. At this point, it’s in your best interest to embrace it and empower your business users.
Don’t worry that expanded use of the public cloud will obviate the need for a private cloud. Their values do not overlap. There are strong reasons for large enterprises to pursue both strategies.
Earlier this week Dell joined arch-competitor HP in endorsing ARM as a potential platform for scale-out workloads by announcing “Copper,” an ARM-based version of its PowerEdge-C dense server product line. Dell’s announcement and positioning, while a little less high-profile than HP’s February announcement, is intended to serve the same purpose — to enable an ARM ecosystem by providing a platform for exploring ARM workloads and to gain a visible presence in the event that it begins to take off.
Dell’s platform is based on a four-core Marvell ARM V7 SOC implementation, which it claims is somewhat higher performance than the Calxeda part, although drawing more power, at 15W per node (including RAM and local disk). The server uses the PowerEdge-C form factor of 12 vertically mounted server modules in a 3U enclosure, each with four server nodes on them for a total of 48 servers/192 cores in a 3U enclosure. In a departure from other PowerEdge-C products, the Copper server has integrated L2 network connectivity spanning all servers, so that the unit will be able to serve as a low-cost test bed for clustered applications without external switches.
Dell is offering this server to selected customers, not as a GA product, along with open source versions of the LAMP stack, Crowbar, and Hadoop. Currently Cannonical is supplying Ubuntu for ARM servers, and Dell is actively working with other partners. Dell expects to see OpenStack available for demos in May, and there is an active Fedora project underway as well.
I bet you are thinking, “Oh no, this looks like a typical Friday IT blog post” and it has all the key ingredients – It’s Friday-tick-has science fiction references-tick-has a weird title-tick – but please go with the flow with this one.