2014 Server and Data Center Predictions

Richard Fichera

As the new year looms, thoughts turn once again to our annual reading of the tea leaves, in this case focused on what I see coming in server land. We’ve just published the full report, Predictions for 2014: Servers & Data Centers, but as teaser, here are a few of the major highlights from the report:

1.      Increasing choices in form factor and packaging – I&O pros will have to cope with a proliferation of new form factors, some optimized for dense low-power cloud workloads, some for general purpose legacy IT, and some for horizontal VM clusters (or internal cloud if you prefer). These will continue to appear in an increasing number of variants.

2.      ARM – Make or break time is coming, depending on the success of coming 64-bit ARM CPU/SOC designs with full server feature sets including VM support.

3.      The beat goes on – Major turn of the great wheel coming for server CPUs in early 2014.

4.      Huge potential disruption in flash architecture – Introduction of flash in main memory DIMM slots has the potential to completely disrupt how flash is used in storage tiers, and potentially can break the current storage tiering model, initially physically with the potential to ripple through memory architectures.

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Networking Is A Hot Mess

Andre Kindness

A few weeks ago, Cisco announced plans for its “spin-in” investment, Insieme Networks: The newest next-generation data center network called, Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI).This new offering includes hardware (the Cisco Nexus 9000 series), new firmware (enhanced version of NX-OS), and a new controller (Application Policing Infrastructure Controller).

Even though Cisco’s ACI launch indicates the magnitude of disruption software-defined networking (SDN) is causing in the industry, and Forrester has provided our quick take on this announcement, I think we have a much bigger story at play here. We are only at the beginning – not middle or end – of sorting out the hot mess that networking is in. And for good reason. The network is the only technology in the business that touches every person, device, and aspect of the business. With that said, networking professionals are trying to support the data center team’s request for a private cloud, employees bringing their own devices and applications to work, and the business circumventing infrastructure and operations for backup-as-a-service or software-as-a-service. Don’t even get me started about the Internet of Things shifting the ownership of the network to non-information technology (IT) personnel or the business opportunity it could bring.

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Google Apps For Business May Be Doomed In Mainland China

Frank Liu

On December 10, Google announced that it is scrapping plans to build a data center in Hong Kong. Instead, it will double its planned investment in its Taiwan data center to $600 million. This undoubtedly worsens the already grave situation for about 32,000 Google Apps users in mainland China, as Google never officially launched Google Enterprise solutions for customers there.

Google Apps for Business users in mainland China have long faced challenges connecting to Gmail, Google Drive, and Google Sites. Previously, I predicted that Google would improve its relationship with the Chinese government and offer Google Enterprise (including Google Apps) from its new Hong Kong data center in 2014, improving customers’ access to the service. However, this week’s news has killed any hope of that happening.

This has a few implications for customers in mainland China and Hong Kong:

  • Uncertainty around Google’s Enterprise Business and Google Apps strategy will kill new business.When you don’t understand a vendor’s local sales and support strategy, you’re not likely to include it on your shortlist. Google faces losing new business from companies based in mainland China and Hong Kong companies with a mainland presence.
  • Enterprises planning to adopt cloud-based email and collaboration suites will look elsewhere.Google Apps isn’t the only suite option. Microsoft now offers Office 365 services in mainland China via a local data center in Shanghai. And local Chinese vendors like Tencent, Sina, and 163 provide more competitively priced hosted services.
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Does Your IT Infrastructure Best Support Your eCommerce Business?

Frank Liu

The growth in today’s online retail market in China remains staggering, driven by rapid increases in the total number of online buyers and online spending per buyer. Web-only retailers dominate this market, but the dynamic is starting to shift as an increasing number of traditional retailers embrace eCommerce, including local companies and multinational corporations. eCommerce companies are at the forefront of technology adoption to better support business. However, I&O professionals face several challenges:

  • Storage capacity, data sharing, and server efficiency cannot keep up with business growth. 
  • Online traffic peaks overload infrastructure, leading to poor client experiences.
  • Social media information overloads traditional analytics. 
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Dell, Tesla, Space X, and Taking Chances: From the Floor At DellWorld 2013

JP Gownder

DellWorld 2013 showcases the newly-private Dell’s rediscovered sense of mission: Founder and CEO Michael Dell described the new company as the “world’s biggest startup.” Freed from the short-term orientation required of publicly traded companies, Dell can accelerate its innovation and risk-taking while following through on its emerging vision.

That vision is to help enterprise customers Transform (e.g. migrate from mainframes to the cloud), Connect (e.g. provide mobile devices and device management services), Inform (e.g. leverage big data analytics through software and services), and Protect (e.g. employ comprehensive security solutions).

Michael Dell spent a good deal of time emphasizing that Dell now has the opportunity to make bigger bets. To underscore that message, he invited Tesla and Space X CEO Elon Musk to appear onstage. Musk knows how to make an entrance, riding into the convention center in one of his company’s cars:

Elon Musk told several stories while onstage, including the revelation that, during Tesla's darkest hours, he pretty much figured the company would fail. But he listed his favorite aspect of the Tesla business as creating a sense of "delight" among the car's buyers -- including Michael Dell, who purchased one online.

Musk's presence emphasized a number of admirable qualities to which the new Dell aspires. Risk-taking, entrepreneurialism, disruption, and strategic vision. “We need more people like Elon out there taking big risks,” Michael Dell said at one point, reemphasizing the theme of taking chances. 

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Meeting with Tech Mahindra – Insights and Reality Check on IT Automation

Richard Fichera

I recently had a meeting with executives from Tech Mahindra, an Indian-based IT services company, which was refreshing for the both the candor with which they discussed the overall mechanics of a support and integration model with significant components located half a world away, as well as their insights on the realities and limitations of automation, one of the hottest topics in IT operations today.

On the subject of the mechanics and process behind their global integration process, the eye opener for me was the depth of internal process behind the engagements. The common (possibly only common in my mind since I have had less exposure to these companies than some of my peers) mindset of “develop the specs, send them off and receive code back” is no longer even remotely possible. To perform a successful complex integration project takes a reliable set of processes that can link the efforts of the approximately 20 – 40% of the staff on-site with the client with the supporting teams back in India. Plus a massive investment in project management, development frameworks, and collaboration tools, a hallmark of all of the successful Indian service providers.

From a the client I&O group perspective, the relationship between the outsourcer and internal groups becomes much more than an arms-length process, but rather a tightly integrated team in which the main visible differentiator is who pays their salary rather than any strict team, task or function boundary. For the integrator, this is a strong positive, since it makes it difficult for the client to disengage, and gives the teams early knowledge of changes and new project opportunities. From the client side there are drawbacks and benefits – disengagement is difficult, but knowledge transfer is tightly integrated and efficient.

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India And China Will Lead Asia Pacific Enterprise Mobile Software Spending In 2014

Katyayan Gupta

Consumer mobility in India and China is flowing into enterprises. Recent Forrester survey data shows that nearly three in five IT execs and technology decision-makers in these countries — 58% in India and 57% in China — plan to increase their spending on mobile software (including applications and middleware) in 2014.

India has leapfrogged Australia/New Zealand and now leads the Asia Pacific region in terms of expected mobile software spending growth. China has made the biggest move over the past year, jumping from eighth place to second.

We believe that the high growth in mobile software spending in India and China is primarily due to:

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Mobile Mapping: Nokia Prepares For The Afterlife

Katyayan Gupta

At the recently concluded Tizen developer conference in South Korea, Nokia announced that it has licensed its maps and related functionality to the Tizen ecosystem. While no phone or tablet running the Tizen OS has yet launched, device manufacturers like Samsung, Huawei, and Fujitsu are backing it.

Mobile handset manufacturer Jolla, whose first phone ships on November 27, also announced that it has licensed HERE’s positioning services and map technology for its Sailfish OS. We expect more handset manufacturers to build devices for Tizen and Sailfish over the next 12 to 18 months, as both are open source and can run Android apps.

In my opinion, two key factors make Nokia HERE maps a tough competitor for Google and Apple:

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Three Vendors Rise To The Top Of The Private Cloud Market

Lauren Nelson

In Q2 2011, Forrester wrote one of the market's first private cloud vendor evaluations which scored vendors on ten criteria. Over the past two years private cloud has shifted from concept to reality with 55% of enterprise hardware decision makers planning to build an internal private cloud in 2014 (up from 29% in 2011) according to our Forrsights Hardware Survey, Q3 2013. Due to popular demand, Forrester decided to update this report with a full Forrester Wave evaluation composed of 61 criteria. Vendors evaluated in this report represent today's top software-only private cloud vendors -- ASG Software Solutions, BMC Software, CA Technologies, Cisco Systems, Citrix Systems, Eucalyptus Systems, HP, IBM, Microsoft, and VMware. After many long hours on weekends and holidays, this report is finally complete, with three vendors rising to the top -- HP, Cisco, and Microsoft. For the full details of the strengths and weaknesses of each vendor, see The Forrester Wave™: Private Cloud Solutions, Q4 2013

How did Forrester select and evaluate vendors? Each vendor met the following qualifiers: 

  • Self-service portal and role-based access.
  • Infrastructure provisioning capabilities.
  • Management capabilities.
  • Monitoring and tracking of resources.
  • API-based.
  • Generally available by April 1, 2013.
  • More than 100 unique customers. 
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Apple Purchases PrimeSense, Opening Up New Computing Experiences – And Enterprise Solutions

JP Gownder

Apple has completed an acquisition of the Israeli firm PrimeSense, a sensing company whose technology has powered Microsoft’s popular Xbox Kinect for Xbox 360. (Microsoft moved to an in-house technology for the Xbox Kinect for Xbox One).

For the consumer market, Apple’s purchase opens up a number of tantalizing product possibilities:

  • Apple TV. The long-rumored Apple television set – as well as the long-extant AppleTV set top device – could both benefit from motion-sensing and depth/color sensing, particularly for next-generation interactive television applications.
  • Mobile and wearable products. PrimeSense has made a strong effort to miniaturize its components, and the next logical step would be to embed its technologies into mobile or wearable computing products. While often seen as a motion-sensing technology, PrimeSense is at base a depth- and color- perception technology that could potentially someday be used to recognize people – or to help the blind navigate the streets.
  • Customized e-commerce. In 2011, I wrote a report suggesting that Kinect and other sensing technologies could be used by companies to offer mass customized clothing and furniture. Imagine scanning your house – or your body – to receive custom-build cabinets or bespoke clothing shipped to you in short order. PrimeSense technology can already empower these mass customized scenarios.
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