Managing Application Performance In The Cloud Is A DevOps Team Effort

As businesses get serious about the cloud, developers are bringing more business-critical transaction data to cloud-resident web and mobile apps. Indeed, web and mobile apps that drive systems of engagement (how you interact with your customers and partners) are the reason why many companies look to the cloud in the first place. Public clouds offer the speed and agility developers want, plus the development tools they need. Once you’ve built a killer web or mobile app in the cloud and it’s in production, driving real revenue, who’s responsible for making sure it performs?

It’s a team effort. Developers have to think about performance management as they build, and IT operations teams need to design application monitoring and management into their cloud deployment processes up front. Why? Because there’s no time to do it later. You won’t have time to implement a new app monitoring solution for each new cloud app before you need to get it out to users. And once it’s out there, you need to be tracking user experience immediately.

In traditional IT, one of the reasons we could get away with limited insight into application performance was because we usually overprovisioned resources to make sure we didn’t have to worry about it. It’s easier to have excess capacity than to solve tricky performance problems – problems you might only see once in a while.

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Apple’s Healthy iPad Business

Apple’s earnings call yesterday (for the quarter ending March 30, 2013) revealed that its tablet product category, comprised of iPad and iPad Mini, is extremely healthy:

  • iPad quarterly sales rose year-over-year to 19.5 million compared with 11.8 million in the same quarter last year. This represented an over 65% increase. Seasonality effects – like the holiday season in many countries in November and December – meant that sequential-quarter sales dipped (as would be expected). What It Means: The iPad was the fastest-growing product segment for Apple by far. The iPad Mini has generated a new pathway for market penetration, while the iPad continues to be the market leader in its size category.
  • International – particularly Asian – iPad sales grew quickly. CEO Tim Cook called out successes in China (where iPad sales increased by 138%) and Japan. Apple plans to double number of stores in China from 11 to 22 in the next 2 years. What It Means: Having a healthy Asian business will be increasingly important to the iOS ecosystem as it competes with Android. (In China, for example, Android tablets enjoy a strong market presence). Apple is making the right moves to bolster its sales and its ecosystem in Asia.
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OpenStack Summit Report: Real Customers Building Better Products Faster With Open-Source Cloud

At the OpenStack Summit in Portland last week, the open-source cloud platform got real, to echo Forrester’s cloud team predictions for 2013. At the busy gathering attended by over 2,400, suits mingled effortlessly with hoodies and deep-tech design committee meetings were sandwiched between marquee-name customers sharing success stories. Three core themes drove the show, as outlined by Jonathan Bryce in the opening keynote: the OpenStack technology platform has matured, the ecosystem is vibrant, and the global user footprint now includes enterprise customers doing real business.

The show followed on the heels of the Grizzly release, the 7th release of the OpenStack platform. Along with stronger support for VMware and Microsoft hypervisors, Grizzly widens block storage options and includes 10+ new enterprise storage platform drivers and workload-based scheduling. A wide range of new network plugins expand the platform’s software-defined networking options and a sexier Dashboard to access, provision and automate resources.

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Forrester In Your News: Microsoft Takes Aim At Amazon's Cloud, Windows 8 Start Button, BYOD > BYOT, Digital Disruption . . .

I write this week's "Forrester In Your News" from my apartment in Boston. Forrester's Cambridge office just across the Charles River from me is closed today, like many in the area, as events continue to develop from Monday's tragedy at the Boston Marathon. For those of us in the U.S., and especially Boston, it's hard to think about anything else. But if you need to give your mind and emotions a rest, I offer you the following . . .

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Is IBM Selling Its Server Business To Lenovo?

 

The industry is abuzz with speculation that IBM will sell its x86 server business to Lenovo. As usual, neither party is talking publicly, but at this point I’d give it a better than even chance, since usually these kind of rumors tend to be based on leaks of real discussions as opposed to being completely delusional fantasies. Usually.

So the obvious question then becomes “Huh?”, or, slightly more eloquently stated, “Why would they do something like that?”. Aside from the possibility that this might all be fantasy, two explanations come to mind:

1. IBM is crazy.

2. IBM is not crazy.

Of the two explanations, I’ll have to lean toward the latter, although we might be dealing with a bit of the “Hey, I’m the new CEO and I’m going to do something really dramatic today” syndrome. IBM sold its PC business to Lenovo to the tune of popular disbelief and dire predictions, and it's doing very well today because it transferred its investments and focus to higher margin business, like servers and services. Lenovo makes low-end servers today that it bootstrapped with IBM licensed technology, and IBM is finding it very hard to compete with Lenovo and other low-cost providers. Maybe the margins on its commodity server business have sunk below some critical internal benchmark for return on investment, and it believes that it can get a better return on its money elsewhere.

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Collected Insights on Microsoft's Q3FY13 Performance

There is plenty of speculation in the industry this quarter about the future of Microsoft given the challenges facing Windows 8. Microsoft reported flat revenues in the Windows Division today, citing the transition in the PC industry overall. The good news is that Microsoft is a diversified business with strengthening enterprise multi-year licensing revenues of 16% as one good sign. New licensing models for Office and the release of Microsoft Azure IaaS platform are both positives, with Online Services Revenue up 18%.

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IT Service Management Benchmarks – For You By You

In a previous blog post, SysAid – a provider of IT management solutions – was kind enough to share some metrics/performance snapshots collected from its customers. As a quick recap, SysAid captures service desk benchmarking information through its customers’ use of its software (on an opt-in basis of course) for the benefit of all.

At some point we should sit down and compare the SysAid stats to those provided by HDI – a great independent source of service desk benchmarks – that’s a challenge to you Roy Atkinson … BTW, I hope the HDI 2013 event is going well in Las Vegas this week (the Twitter hash tag is #hdiconf13 for people, like me, who aren’t there). Anyway, back to those SysAid stats …

A selection of community-based service desk stats …

There are two points to note here: not all SysAid customers participate (according to its website, SysAid now has over 100,000 customer organizations); and I have cherry-picked a handful of the available stats from March 2013. There is also one caveat from me – there is no differentiation of organization size in these stats, we need to drill down further to account for any small or very large organization bias.

Percentage of incident tickets originating from the End User Portal, Average 60.31%

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OpenStack Goes Grizzly, Azure IaaS Goes Live. No Big Deal. Good

 

The OpenStack Foundation and Microsoft have released major updates to their cloud platforms and frankly there’s nothing really new or exciting here – which is a good thing.
Sure, there were over 250 new features added in the Grizzly release of OpenStack that brought several nice enhancements to its software-defined networking, storage services, computing scalability and reliability and it delivered better support for multiple hypervisors and better image sharing, too. The vSphere driver was given a significant update, Swift got better monitoring, and there's a new bare metal provisioning option, which was the talk of day one of the OpenStack Summit here in Portland, Oregon.
 
For Microsoft, it lifted the preview tag from its full Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) enhancement to the Windows Azure public cloud platform. It’s a big deal for Microsoft who previously didn’t provide this level of virtual infrastructure control but compared to the rest of the public IaaS market, it’s more of a “welcome to the party” announcement than a new innovation or differentiator. To sweeten its appeal, Microsoft added a pledge to match AWS pricing for compute, network and storage services and thus dropped its prices in these areas by 21-33%.
 
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Bring Back The Start Button, Microsoft!

ZDNet’s legendary Microsoft watcher Mary Jo Foley reported on an intriguing possibility for the rumored forthcoming Windows Blue update to Windows 8: That Microsoft could bring back the Start Button for desktop mode and/or allow users to boot directly to the desktop.

These are features that Microsoft should indeed provide to its customers in the next release.

Some analysts and designers might argue against these moves. To truly reimagine Windows, the argument might go, users must be taught a completely new way to navigate. Key to the Windows 8/RT user interface (UI) are charms, which take the place of the Start Button and which provide a simplified navigation system that’s particularly suited to touch screens. Users should segue to charms full time, even when they are in Desktop Mode, if they are to build a bridge to the modern UI.

Those claims might hold some truth. Yet Microsoft should reinstitute the Start Button anyway, because:

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IBM Makes Major Commitment to Flash

 

Wisdom from the Past

In his 1956 dystopian sci-fi novel “The City and the Stars”, Arthur C. Clarke puts forth the fundamental design tenet for making eternal machines, “A machine shall have no moving parts”. To someone from the 1950s current computers would appear to come close to that ideal – the CPUs and memory perform silent magic and can, with some ingenuity, be passively cooled, and invisible electronic signals carry information in and out of them to networks and … oops, to rotating disks, still with us after more than five decades[i]. But, as we all know, salvation has appeared on the horizon in the form of solid-state storage, so called flash storage (actually an idea of several decades standing as well, just not affordable until recently).

The initial substitution of flash for conventional storage yields immediate gratification in the form of lower power, maybe lower cost if used effectively, and higher performance, but the ripple effect benefits of flash can be even more pervasive. However, the implementation of the major architectural changes engendered across the whole IT stack by the use of flash is a difficult conceptual challenge for users and largely addressed only piecemeal by most vendors. Enter IBM and its Flashahead initiative.

What is Happening?

On Friday, April 11, IBM announced a major initiative, to the tune of a spending commitment of $1B, to accelerate the use of flash technology by means of three major programs:

·        Fundamental flash R&D

·        New storage products built on flash-only memory technology

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