About six months ago in this blog I accused IBM of “cloud-washing” its solutions and services when it launched its Project Blue Cloud marketing campaign. Its aim with this effort was to lure customer conversations about cloud computing in its direction so it could learn what enterprises wanted from this new technology. IBM has had some legitimate cloud deployments and proofs of concept since then, but just this week announced the first product fruits of that labor.
I just came back from an exciting week in Orlando, FL, shuttling between SAP SAPPHIRE and IBM Cognos Forum conferences. Thank you, my friends at SAP and IBM for putting the two conferences right next to each other (time- and location-wise), and for saving me an extra trip!
Both conferences showed new and exciting products and both vendors are making great progress towards my vision of “next generation BI”: automated, pervasive, unified and limitless. I track about 20 different trends under these four categories, but there’s a particular one that is especially catching my attention these days. It went largely under covers at both conferences, and I was struggling with how to verbalize it, until my good friend and peer, Mark Albala, of http://www.info-sight-partners.com, put it in excellent terms for me in an email earlier today: it’s all about “pre-discovery” vs. “post-discovery” of data.
In yesterday’s Forbes.com HP VP and CTO Russ Daniels wrote a short commentary on how cloud computing can help reignite the global economy and his focus is what makes the difference. Where Russ differs from many others on cloud computing in that he is talking about the vision from a higher, business level than most others, who are down in the IT weeds most of the time. Where Nick Carr talks about cloud computing sending corporate data centers to the trash heap, Russ is looking at what new business opportunities can be enabled by the cloud.
The value of Sun’s Solaris installed base proved its worth once again this week as Oracle found it too tempting to pass up and pulled the trigger trumping IBM. A large percent of Oracle’s most profitable customers run their Oracle wares on Solaris and for them to fall further into the hands of the mortal enemy alone justifies the purchase. Sure, Oracle gains complimentary IP in Java, MySQL, and a very competent services organization but most of the rest is likely to end up off Oracle’s books.
It’s not every day that we read about a software maker buying a hardware company and that in itself is perhaps the biggest sign of things to come from this acquisition. Oracle, like Microsoft, enjoys healthy profit margins from a software-only business model. While Oracle is far more consulting-heavy than its Redmond rival, it profits rise above IBM, HP, Cisco and others because of its low cost of goods. Sun’s server and storage businesses don’t fit with this model and certainly don’t justify the further investment in the SPARC microprocessor that will be needed to keep this business healthy. So despite Oracle’s statement that, “Oracle plans to engineer and deliver an integrated system -- applications to disk -- where all the pieces fit and work together, so customers do not have to do it themselves,” expect Oracle to shop these units tout suite. Dell and HP are likely to bid for these businesses and do a strategic alignment on product collaboration like HP’s last year on the Oracle Data Warehouse.
In my recent BI Belt Tightening For Tough Economic Times document I explored a few low-cost alternatives to traditional, mainstream, and typically relatively expensive Business Intelligence (BI) tools. While some of these alternatives indeed were a fraction of a cost of a characteristic large enterprise BI software license, there were even fewer truly zero cost options. But there were some. For example, you can:
Leverage and use no-cost bundled BI software already in-house.Small departments and workgroups may be able to leverage BI software that comes bundled at no additional cost with BI appliances, database management systems (DBMSes), and application licenses. You can consider using these few free licenses from Actuate, IBM Cognos, Information Builders, Jaspersoft, Microsoft, MicroStrategy, Panorama, Pentaho, and SAP Business Objects for additional functions such as testing, QA, and prototyping. While these few free licenses are just a drop in the bucket in a typical large enterprise BI license requirements, do look around and don’t waste money on BI products you may already have.
The Open Cloud Manifesto, backed by its thirty-six firms that signed on with its debut, outlines core value propositions, points out challenges, sets goals, and then lists several principles of what an open cloud should accomplish. Until now, there has been no real attempt to define or restrict the term or use of the term "cloud", but it’s hard to view this effort as highly credible when many of the early cloud leaders did not sign onto it. Most glaringly absent are Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and salesforce.com. Why aren’t all vendors signing onto this manifesto?
Well, one such reason given by Microsoft was their discomfort of being asked to sign the document "as is" without any chance for input.
Intel did more than just introduce a faster server processor today with the introduction of the Xeon 5500; it enabled a greater level of differentiation to its server and storage vendor partners that ultimately will result in a broader set of choices and better ones for enterprise infrastructure & operations professionals. While the performance improvements of the 5500 in themselves are impressive, there is just as much to like in the new memory and I/O architectures and power efficiency. The new memory architecture triples bandwidth over the 5400 and brings back DDR3 allowing up to 18 DIMMs per CPU. This lets customers reach much higher memory configurations at a lower cost. While you have to add memory three DIMMs at a time, 36 GBs per socket is now achievable with low cost 2GB DIMMs. This is a significant boon to server virtualization where memory is typically the first resource to be fully utilized. Cisco is taking this capacity even higher in its UCS blade servers.
A big blue cloud overshadowed Sun’s announcement today unveiling their Open Cloud Computing platform. Media was a buzz today at rumors of a possible acquisition of Sun Microsystems by IBM. Still a rumor at this point, the story brings up many questions about how feasible this acquisition really is and if it makes sense from IBM’s perspective as well as Sun’s.
I always predicted that Open Source BI has to reach critical mass before it becomes a viable alternative for large enterprise BI platforms. All the individual components (a mixture of Open Source BI projects and commercial vendor wrappers around them) are slowly but surely catching up to their bigger closed source BI brothers. Talend and Kettle (a Pentaho led project) offer data integration components like ETL, Mondrian and Palo (SourceForge projects) have OLAP servers, BIRT (an Eclipse project), Actuate, Jaspersoft and Pentaho have impressive reporting components, Infobright innovates with columnar dbms well suited for BI, and productized offerings from consulting companies like European based Engineering Ingegneria Informatica – SpagoBI – offer some Open Source BI component integration.
However, even large closed source BI vendors that acquired multiple BI components over the years still struggle with full, seamless component integration. So what chance do Open Source BI projects and vendors with independent leadership structure and often varying priorities have for integrating highly critical BI components such as metadata, data access layers, GUI, common prompting/sorting/ranking/filtering approaches, drill-throughs from one product to another, etc? Today, close to none. However, a potential consolidation of such products and technologies under one roof can indeed create a highly needed critical mass and give these individual components a chance to grow into large enterprise quality BI solutions.