IBM Buys SoftLayer, But Will They Learn From Them?

James Staten

IBM didn't just pick up a hosting company with their acquisition of SoftLayer this week, they picked up a sophisticated data center operations team -- one that could teach IBM Global Technical Services (GTS) a thing or two about efficiency when it comes to next-generation cloud data centers. Here's hoping IBM will listen.

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Microsoft brings Windows Azure to China – is this the start of a new era?

Charlie Dai

Back in October 2011, Microsoft named the initiative to introduce Windows Azure cloud platform into the Chinese market “Moon Cake,” which represents harmony and happiness in Chinese culture. On May 23, 2013, Microsoft made the announcement in Shanghai that Windows Azure will be available in Chinese market starting on June 6 —  almost half a year after its agreement with Shanghai government and 21ViaNet to operate Windows Azure together last November. Chinese customers will finally be able to “taste” this foreign moon cake.

I believe that a new chapter of cloud is going to be written by a new ecosystem in China market, and Microsoft will be the leader of this disruption. My reasons:

  • The cloud market in China will be more disrupted. Due to the regulatory limitations on data center and related telecom value-added services operations for foreign players, the cloud market for both infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and platform-as-a-service (PaaS) has been an easy battlefield for local players, such as Alibaba/HiChina. Microsoft’s innovative way working with both government and local service partners to break through this “great wall” shows all of the major global giants, such as Amazon.com, the great opportunity from this approach to the Chinese market. We can anticipate that they will also enter the Chinese market in the coming six to 18 months.
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Hybrid Cloud Future? Too Late!

James Staten

I've noticed a bit of a disturbing pattern of late in my cloud discussions with clients. They have been talking about hybrid cloud in the future tense. If you are planning for hybrid down the road, I have a wake up call for you. Too late, you are already hybrid. 

If your company has even a single SaaS application in use today I can almost gurantee you it's connected to something inside your data center giving you hybrid cloud. So hybrid isn't a future state after you have a private cloud in place and IT Ops chooses to connect that private cloud to a public cloud. Look at it through the lens of a business process or application service which is composed of different components, some cloud-based, some on-premise. From an Infrastructure & Operations perspective, hybrid cloud means a cloud service connected to any other corporate resource (a back office app, your web site, your intranet, another SaaS app you have under contract and yes, even your private cloud). Any of these types of connections presents the same integration impact - whether you established the connection or not.  If you are like the typical enterprise, that answered our Forrsights Q4 2012 Software Survey, then you have more than six SaaS applications in place today (that you know about) so cloud integration is likely well in place today. And about one third of the developers who responded to our Forrsights Q1 2013 Developer Survey said they have already deployed applications to the public cloud. Twenty-five percent also admitted to putting application integrations in place. 

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

James Staten

 

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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VMware Takes the Cover Off Its Public Cloud

James Staten

Sometimes you can only coax a reluctant partner and I&O customer community for so long before you feel you have to take matters into your own hands. That is exactly what VMware has decided to do to become relevant in the cloud platforms space. The hypervisor pioneer unveiled vCloud Hybrid Service to investors today in what is more a statement of intention than a true unveiling.

VMware's public cloud service — yep, a full public IaaS cloud meant to compete with Amazon Web Service, IBM SmartCloud Enterprise, HP Cloud, Rackspace, and others — won't be fully unveiled until Q2 2013, so much of the details about the service remain under wraps. VMware hired the former president for Savvis Cloud, Bill Fathers, to run this new offering and said it was a top three initiative for the company and thus would be getting "the level of investment appropriate to that priority and to capitalize on a $14B market opportunity," according to Matthew Lodge, VP of Cloud Services Product Marketing and Management for VMware, who spoke to us Tuesday about the pending announcement. 

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The VMware Community Has the Innovator’s Dilemma

James Staten

 

This week at the VMware Partner Exchange, CEO Pat Gelsinger and his executive staff decided to demonize Amazon Web Services and their public cloud brethren in a very short sighted defensive move that frankly betrays the fact that they don’t understand the disruption they are facing. Pat, you and your market have the Innovator’s Dilemma, and the enemy isn’t public cloud but private clouds.

According to CRN’s article on the event, Gelsinger was quoted as saying, “"We want to own corporate workloads. We all lose if they end up in these commodity public clouds. We want to extend our franchise from the private cloud into the public cloud and uniquely enable our customers with the benefits of both. Own the corporate workload now and forever."

Forgive my frankness, Mr. Gelsinger, but you just don’t get it. Public clouds are not your enemy. And the disruption they are causing to your forward revenues are not their capture of enterprise workloads. The battle lines you should be focusing on are between advanced virtualization and true cloud services and the future placement of Systems of Engagement versus Systems of Record.

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Why Your Enterprise Private Cloud is Failing

James Staten

You've told your ITOps team to make it happen, you've approved the purchase of cloud-in-a-box solutions, but your developers aren't using it. Why?

Forrester analyst Lauren Nelson and myself get this question often in our inquiries with enterprise customers and we've found the answer and published a new report specifically on this topic.
Its core finding: Your approach is wrong. 

You're asking the wrong people to build the solution. You aren't giving them clear enough direction on what they should build. You aren't helping them understand how this new service should operate or how it will affect their career and value to the organization. And more often than not you are building the private cloud without engaging the buyers who will consume this cloud.

And your approach is perfectly logical. For many of us in IT, we see a private cloud as an extension of our investments in virtualization. It's simply virtualization with some standardization, automation, a portal, and an image library isn't it? Yep. And a Porsche is just a Volkswagen with better engine, tires, suspension, and seats. That's the fallacy in this thinking.

To get private cloud right, you have to step away from the guts of the solution and start with the value proposition. From the point of view of the consumers of this service — your internal developers and business users. 

I&O Looks Up at Cloud; Developers Look Down Into It

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How to Avoid the Hidden Costs of Cloud Computing

James Staten

We all know the conventional wisdom about cloud computing: it's cheap, fast and easy. But is it really that much cheaper? Or is it simply optics that make it appear cheaper?

Optics can absolutely change your perception of the cost of something. Just think about your morning jolt of coffee. $3.50 for a no-foam, half-caf, sugar-free vanilla latte doesn't seem that expensive. It's a small daily expense when viewed by the drink. It appears even cheaper if you pay for it with a loyalty card where you don't even have to fork over the dough and the vanilla shot is free. But what if you bought coffee like IT buys technology? You would pay for it on an annual basis. That $3.50 latte would now be about $900/year. For coffee? How many of you would go for that deal? That's optics and it plays right into the marketing hands of the public cloud services your business is consuming today.

But optics aside, is that $99/month per user SaaS application just another $20,000 per year enterprise application? Is that $0.25 per hour virtual machine just another $85 per year hosted VM? No, it's not the same. Because the pricing models are not just optics but an indication of the buying pattern that is possible. If you buy it the same way you do traditional IT, then yes, the math says, there's little difference here. The key to cloud economics is to not buy the cloud service the same way you do traditional IT. The key to taking advantage is to not statically and rotely consume the cloud. Instead, consume only what you need when you need it — and be diligent about turning off when you aren't.

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Hosted private cloud Wave complete but no leaders identified

Lauren Nelson

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:
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Amazon Targets Enterprise IT In Las Vegas: Insights & Observations From re:Invent User Conference

Michael Barnes

Amazon Web Services (AWS) held its first global customer and partner conference, re:Invent, in late November in Las Vegas, attracting approximately 6,000 attendees. While aimed squarely at developers, AWS highlighted two key themes that will appeal directly to enterprise IT decision-makers:

  • Continued global expansion. AWS cites customers in 190 countries, but the company is clearly pushing for greater penetration into enterprise accounts via aggressive global expansion. AWS now has nine regions (each of which has at least one data center), including three in Asia Pacific: Tokyo, Singapore, and Sydney. 
  • An expanded services footprint within customer accounts. The major announcement at re:Invent was a limited preview of a new data warehouse (DW) service called Amazon Redshift — a fully managed, cloud-based, petabyte-scale DW. As my colleague Stefan Ried tweeted during the event, with a limit of 1.6 petabytes, this is not just for testing and development — this is a serious production warehouse.
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