In 2011, my colleague James Staten and I published two light-weight vendor assessments on the private cloud and public cloud market. These solutions sit at the extremes of the IaaS market. To kick off 2013, I published a full vendor evaluation of a market that sits in between these two IaaS deployment types — hosted private cloud. Forrester's Forrsights Hardware Survey, Q3 2012 showed that 46% of enterprises are prioritizing investments in private clouds in 2013. While slightly more than half plan to build a private cloud in their own data center, more than 25% said they prefer to rent one. Hosted private cloud opens the door to a variety of benefits: 1) You reach cloud from day one. 2) Compute is dedicated from other clients. 3) It can enable future hybrid scenarios. 4) Easier-to-meet licensing and compliancy requirements. 5) Outsourcing the setup of the cloud and management of the infrastructure to focus on support and utilization.
Overall this report revealed no leaders, but it did show some strengths and weaknesses across the market and provide framework and sample criteria to assess vendors within this space. This research process also revealed some unexpected nuances within this space:
Hosted private cloud and virtual private cloud are often used interchangeably within the market — despite being distinct deployment types.
Level and method of dedication varies greatly by solution.
Layers managed differ greatly by solution.
Although agility is a benefit, few enable self-service access to resources to its end users. Ticket-based request systems are common.
Many enterprises are using hosted private cloud for some unexpected advantages:
Okay, I know it sounds a little dramatic… but it’s true.
Over the last four months, Forrester Analysts Andre Kindness (@AndreKindness) and Lauren Nelson (@Lauren_E_Nelson) evaluated providers of data center networking and hosted private cloud solutions. Andre got dirty in the plumbing (uhh, I mean networking), and Lauren had her head in the clouds. Each report represents months of vendor and customer interviews, demos, and analysis. In short, they did the heavy lifting so you don’t have to.
So what did they find?
While there are no “Leaders” – there are a number of "Strong Performers" and "Contenders." This means that if you’re thinking of investing in infrastructure that your increasingly digital business will run on, you will have to make tradeoffs. Here are a few highlights of each report:
Forrester’s Data Center Networking Wave™: Andre evaluated the eight most significant vendors across 85 criteria — Alcatel-Lucent, Arista Networks, Avaya, Brocade Communications Systems, Cisco Systems, Extreme Networks, HP, and Juniper Networks. Andre's assessment of the vendors' current offerings evaluated the completeness of each vendor’s solution to support a scalable, secure, standardized, shared, and simplified platform that would connect users to applications and data within a data center.
As I write this, I am in seat 1A of United flight 1607 from Philly to Houston. playing on the screen in front of me is CNBC. I make no secret of my disdain for much of the so called "news media" so I won't launch into my usual rant there (there are some superb journalists out there, but Murrow and Cronkite must be rolling in their graves!). I am bristling over the coverage right now that is focused on the 787's latest woes. As usual, the talking heads are clueless and painting a doomsday scenario for Boeing! It's a bunch of finance people who don't understand the engineering realities. They're smart bean counters, but not engineers. I am an old engineer, so let me shed light on what the Wall Street mouths don't know. There is an important lesson here for I&O leaders!
Emerson Network Power today announced that it is entering into a significant partnership with IBM to both integrate Emerson’s new Trellis DCIM suite into IBM’s ITSM products as well as to jointly sell Trellis to IBM customers. This partnership has the potential to reshape the DCIM market segment for several reasons:
Connection to enterprise IT — Emerson has sold a lot of chillers, UPS and PDU equipment and has tremendous cachet with facilities types, but they don’t have a lot of people who know how to talk IT. IBM has these people in spades.
IBM can use a DCIM offering — IBM, despite being a huge player in the IT infrastructure and data center space, does not have a DCIM product. Its Maximo product seems to be more of a dressed up asset management product, and this partnership is an acknowledgement of the fact that to build a full-fledged DCIM product would have been both expensive and time-consuming.
IBM adds sales bandwidth — My belief is that the development of the DCIM market has been delivery bandwidth constrained. Market leaders Nlyte, Emerson and Schneider do not have enough people to address the emerging total demand, and the host of smaller players are even further behind. IBM has the potential to massively multiply Emerson’s ability to deliver to the market.
The word 'transformation' is probably one of the most overused words in business and IT. I put my hands up and confess that in the past, as an enterprise management consultant, I have tagged IT management solution projects as 'transformations' as it just sounds so much sexier than the word 'change' or 'implementation'. Come on, you have to agree it does, doesn't it? But my call to you today is to help Forrester to eradicate the abuse of this word during 2013.
How can I help? We are currently working on The I&O Practice Playbook at Forrester which looks to address the I&O organisation of the future in terms of its people, process, technology and culture. Before I go on any further, I am going to say that in order to get to this 'future', I&O organisations really do need to go through true 'transformation' which can be defined as:
A major shift in people, processes, technology and culture. An example is an IT organization which wants to transform to be more customer-centric. The vision to be customer-centric will potentially require a change to people (skills, recruitment etc), process (structure, activities, measurement etc) technology (end-user, infrastructure etc) and culture (fostering customer-centricity).
To publish this post, I must first discredit myself. I'm 42, and while I love what I do for a living, Michael Dell is 47 and his company was already doing $1 million a day in business by the time he was 31. I look at guys like that and think: "What the h*** have I been doing with my time?!?" Nevertheless, Dell is a company I've followed more closely than any other but Apple since the mid-2000s, and in the past two years I've had the opportunity to meet with several Dell executives and employees - from Montpellier, France to Austin, Texas.
Because I cover both PC hardware as well as client virtualization here at Forrester, it puts me in regular contact with Dell customers who will inevitably ask what we as a firm think about Dell's latest announcements to go private, just as they have for HP these past several quarters since the circus started over there with Mr. Apotheker. Hopefully what follows here is information and analysis that you as an I&O leader can rely on to develop your own perspective on Dell with more clarity.
Complexity is Dell's enemy
The complexity of Dell as an organization right now is enormous. They have been on a "Quest" to re-invent themselves and go from PC and server vendor, to an end-to-end solutions vendor with the hope that their chief differentiator could be unique software to drive more repeatable solutions delivery, and in turn lower solutions cost. I say the word 'hope' deliberately because to do that means focusing most of their efforts around a handful of solutions that no other vendor could provide. It's a massive undertaking because as a public company, they have to do this while keeping cash-flow going in their lines of business from each acquisition and growing those while they develop the focused solutions. So far, they haven't.
The changing business and IT landscapes bring increased demand for IT (or IT services) AND increasing complexity. The slide below (a tweaked version of a genuine Glenn O’Donnell original) paints a picture of increasing complexity and an impending capability gulf; if it isn’t already here.
So can IT organizations cope by increasing their manual ability, usually by employing or buying in more people resource?
Even if they could get suitable resource (availability and recruitment can be issues), could the parent business afford the jump in labor costs as these continue to be a highly-visible element of overall IT service delivery costs? Adding more people doesn’t necessarily fit in with the now oft-quoted mantra of “do (or deliver) more with less.”
A recent webinar with ServiceNow looked at drivers for and opportunities from automation, and how to approach building the business case for service management AND automation. Where Forrester defines automation as:
“Tools that perform functions otherwise done by humans.”
If you want to cut to the chase (i.e. don’t want to read the blog) …
Last week I had the pleasure of talking to a large group of I&O pros about monitoring their growing virtual environments. It was a lively webinar conversation sponsored by Splunk and you can check it out here. We talked about how traditional monitoring approaches can fail in large-scale virtual environments because of the number of metrics to monitor, uncertainty about what metrics matter the most, and lack of expertise in setting reasonable thresholds for alerts and alarms. I discussed how this can lead to a “virtualization big data” problem and gave pointers on leveraging analytics to help tackle it.
My approach was inspired by a recent report published by my colleagues Glenn O’Donnell and JP Garbani, “Turn Big Data Inward With IT Analytics.” Their insightful overview of the IT analytics market shows how you should be putting the intelligence of analytics to work for you. If you’re struggling to monitor and manage your IT infrastructure complexity today, how will you handle tomorrow’s additional complexity? This report clearly makes the case for IT analytics as the way forward.
Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending Dell’s Technology Camp in Amsterdam. It was a full on day starting at 7.30am and I finally got back home at 11pm but it was a fascinating event. Dell is currently heavily in the news and various sources are reporting that over the coming weekend they are likely to go private. Going from public back to private is not an easy decision to take and Microsoft’s reported interest in Dell certainly makes this situation all the more interesting. This will be a big change and I am sure will be subject of detailed analysis and commentary next week.
For now, I would rather concentrate on an interesting conversation that I had with Sam Greenblatt, Chief Architect for Dell’s Enterprise solutions group. Sam needs no introduction as his career and successes are very impressive. As many of you may know, before Dell, he worked for HP as their CTO for webOS but he has also worked with Steve Jobs and many of the other founders of the modern IT market. As an Analyst, I am lucky that I get to speak with many senior executives and so I thought I would record this session for you. I apologize if the sound quality is not crystal clear but I am no Bill Talbott (famous Hollywood sound engineer) and we actually had to do this recording standing up in a kitchen area as the venue was one big open space. I was also fairly refrained in my questioning so as I could share the content a bit quicker with you.
It’s 15 minutes in length and here are the questions I asked:
(1) So what’s your role at Dell?
(2) What does success look like in this role?
(3) What would you say are three key strengths for Dell?
(4) What is the main challenge that Dell faces today?