Extremes of x86 Servers Illustrate the Depth of the Ecosystem and the Diversity of Workloads

Richard Fichera

I’ve recently been thinking a lot about application-specific workloads and architectures (Optimize Scalalable Workload-Specific Infrastructure for Customer Experiences), and it got me to thinking about the extremes of the server spectrum – the very small and the very large as they apply to x86 servers. The range, and the variation in intended workloads is pretty spectacular as we diverge from the mean, which for the enterprise means a 2-socket Xeon server, usually in 1U or 2U form factors.

At the bottom, we find really tiny embedded servers, some with very non-traditional packaging. My favorite is probably the technology from Arnouse digital technology, a small boutique that produces computers primarily for military and industrial ruggedized environments.

Slightly bigger than a credit card, their BioDigital server is a rugged embedded server with up to 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB SSD and a very low power footprint. Based on an Atom-class CPU, thus is clearly not the choice for most workloads, but it is an exemplar of what happens when the workload is in a hostile environment and the computer maybe needs to be part of a man-carried or vehicle-mounted portable tactical or field system. While its creators are testing the waters for acceptance as a compute cluster with up to 4000 of them mounted in a standard rack, it’s likely that these will remain a niche product for applications requiring the intersection of small size, extreme ruggedness and complete x86 compatibility, which includes a wide range of applications from military to portable desktop modules.

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Use The Cloud For Success Down Under

James Staten

Pop Quiz: If your company has conquered North America and Western Europe and is now looking for the next big market, where should you go? The no-thinking, because it’s obvious, answer is of course China. But if you want low cost of entry and a rapid return on investment you might want to aim a bit further South - to Australia.

While it isn’t as big a market as China (or even India) and may have a higher cost of living, which can make establishing a beachhead there expensive, Australia has significant enough similarities to the western world — a well-educated populace, a high income citizenship and desire for new technologies and innovations — to make success here far easier. And if you are doing ROI calculations around this decision, it has a key advantage over its Asian peers: higher acceptance of cloud services. 

How does greater cloud-readiness translate into higher ROI? Because your company can leverage cloud-based services to reach and serve Australian customers faster, cheaper, and with a better economic model that maximizes the profitability of crossing shores. And in our latest Forrester report, we show you how Australian companies are using the cloud and achieving success through this activity.

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IBM’s Cloud Platform Strategy Is Getting Legitimate

James Staten

After a slow and somewhat disjointed start, it looks like IBM is starting to build some serious momentum in the Public Cloud Platform game. 

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Gateways Will Accelerate Data Migration To The Cloud

Henry Baltazar
The last few days have been eventful in the cloud gateway space and should provide I&O organizations more incentive to start evaluating gateways.  Yesterday, EMC announced its acquisition of cloud gateway startup TwinStrata which will allow EMC customers to move on-premise data from EMC arrays to public cloud storage providers.  Today, Panzura launched a free cloud gateway and their partner Google is adding 2TB of free cloud storage for a year to entice companies to kick the tires on a gateway.  Innovation and investment in this area does not appear to be slowing down.  CTERA locked in an additional $25 million in VC funding last week to accelerate the sales and marketing efforts to support its cloud gateway and file sync & share products.
 
Though the cloud gateway market has grown slowly so far, this technology category is about to become mainstream.  Cloud Gateways are disruptive since they can facilitate data migration from on-premises to a public cloud storage service to create a true hybrid cloud storage environment.  Basically, a cloud gateway is a virtual or physical storage appliance which looks like a NAS or block storage device to users and applications on-premises, but can write data back to a public cloud storage service using the native APIs of that cloud.  
 
A number of use cases have emerged for cloud gateways including:
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Banks In Singapore And Hong Kong Must Step Up To The Cloud Challenge

Fred Giron

Last week I presented an overview of cloud adoption trends in the banking sector in Asia to a panel of financial services regulators in Hong Kong. The presentation showcased a few cloud case studies including CBA, ING Direct, and NAB in Australia. I focused on the business value that these banks have realized through the adoption of cloud concepts, while remaining compliant with the local regulatory environments. These banks have also developed a strong competitive advantage: They know how to do cloud. Ultimately, I believe that cloud is a capability that banks will have to master in order to build an agility advantage. For instance, cloud is a key enabler of Yuebao, Alibaba’s new Internet finance business. 80 million users in less than 10 months? Only cloud architecture can enable that type of agility and scale (an idea that Hong Kong regulators clearly overlooked).

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Your Technology Reflects The State Of Your Customer Experience Ecosystem, So Plan Accordingly

TJ Keitt

The business press has come alive over the past few weeks as companies as diverse as Delta, Facebook, and Tesla have publicly declared that they want to own software development for key applications. What should catch your attention about these announcements is the types of software these firms want to control. Delta is acquiring the software IP and data associated with an application that affects 180 of its customer and flight operations systems. Facebook is building proprietary software to simplify interactions between its sales teams and the advertisers posting ads on the social networking site. And Tesla has developed its own enterprise resource management (ERP) and commerce platform that links the manufacturing history of a vehicle with important sales and customer support systems. Tesla's CIO Jay Vijayan, in describing his organization's system, sums up the sentiment behind many of these business decisions: "It helps the company move really fast."

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HP Hooks Up With Foxcon for Volume Servers

Richard Fichera

Yesterday HP announced that it will be entering into a “non-equity joint venture” (think big strategic contract of some kind with a lot of details still in flight) to address the large-scale web services providers. Under the agreement, Foxcon will design and manufacture and HP will be the primary sales channel for new servers targeted at hyper scale web service providers. The new servers will be branded HP but will not be part of the current ProLiant line of enterprise servers, and HP will deliver additional services along with hardware sales.

Why?

The motivation is simple underneath all the rhetoric. HP has been hard-pressed to make decent margins selling high-volume low-cost and no-frills servers to web service providers, and has been increasingly pressured by low-cost providers. Add to that the issue of customization, which these high-volume customers can easily get from smaller and more agile Asian ODMs and you have a strategic problem. Having worked at HP for four years I can testify to the fact that HP, a company maniacal about quality but encumbered with an effective but rigid set of processes around bringing new products to market, has difficulty rapidly turning around a custom design, and has a cost structure that makes it difficult to profitably compete for deals with margins that are probably in the mid-teens.

Enter the Hon Hai Precision Industry Co, more commonly known as Foxcon. A longtime HP partner and widely acknowledged as one of the most efficient and agile manufacturing companies in the world, Foxcon brings to the table the complementary strengths to match HP – agile design, tightly integrated with its manufacturing capabilities.

Who does what?

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Top 10 Cloud Challenges Facing Media & Entertainment

James Staten

 

With video rapidly becoming the dominant content type on enterprise networks the issues being faced in the media market foreshadow the coming challenges for the rest of the market. And use of the cloud was very much in focus at the 2014 National Association of Broadcasters conference held in Las Vegas in the second week of April.

Most industries need a push to move aggressively into the cloud  -- and the media & entertainment market was no different. The initial push came from the threat of disruption by over the top (OTT) distributors, like NetFlix, who were primarily leveraging the cloud. “[We] aren’t going to be cold-cocked like music was,” said Roy Sekoff, president and co-creator of, HuffPost Live. As a result, video production houses, news organizations and television and motion picture studios are being the most aggressive. Now an upcoming shift to Ultra HD presents a new series of challenges including file sizes, bandwidth limitations, and new complexities for workflows, visual effects and interactivity.  

Here we present ten issues the media industry faces as it more broadly embraces the cloud, as observed first-hand at NABShow 2014. These ten issues show how going cloud changes how you think (planning), act (workflow), and engage (distribute). For Forrester clients there is a new companion report to this blog detailing what the industry is doing to address these challenges and how you can follow suit:

Change how you think: Strategy and planning

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Get Application Optimization Right in the Cloud Era

James Staten

There’s a new and refreshing trend in my conversations with CIOs and IT leaders — acknowledgement that cloud services are here to stay and a desire to proactively start taking advantage. But to get this right takes the right approach to application portfolio optimization. And we’ve just released a new version of our Strategic Rightsourcing tool that helps you do just that.

The decision to proactive embrace cloud services is quickly followed by two questions:

  • How to prepare my IT organization to be cloud-forward?
  • What apps to move to the cloud?
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Can Pricing Actions Make Google’s Cloud Platform Worth A Look?

James Staten

Usually when a product or service shouts about its low pricing, that’s a bad thing but in Google’s case there’s unique value in its Sustained-use Discounts program which just might make it worth your consideration. 

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