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

Doug Washburn

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?

Richard Fichera

 

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

David Johnson

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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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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Bring Back The Start Button, Microsoft!

JP Gownder

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

Richard Fichera

 

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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Forrester In Your News: BYOD, Tablets, Microsoft, Death of the PC (Not), Amazon, Customers . . .

Doug Washburn

Do you remember your “Current Events” class? It was the one where there was always a pop quiz on what’s happening in the news. Think if you were in that class today and there was a segment on business and technology: Where would you turn? 

While we like to believe that www.Forrester.com and this blog are your only two sources of information (wink, wink), we recognize that there are other valuable publications to help you stay on top of business and technology happenings. The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, The New York Times, Associated Press, La Tribune, Forbes, Wired, CIO, InformationWeek, and ZDNet to name a few. LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook are also great resources.

To help IT Infrastructure and Operations (I&O) leaders stay current, I've handpicked media from this week that features quotes and data from Forrester’s I&O analysts and a few others. Some articles are very relevant to I&O leaders (ex. stories on BYOD, tablets, Microsoft), while others offer important marketing and strategy insights for I&O leaders to be aware of (ex. business trends in retail and banking, big data, voice of the customer strategies).

Is this useful? If so, I'm happy to do this weekly or every other week. Let me know in the comment field below.

Thanks and enjoy your weekend,

Doug

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Very Relevant Business Technology News For I&O Leaders:

The Wall Street Journal 
Featured Forrester Analyst: Christian Kane
No contract phones could complicate BYOD 
April 8, 2013

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Is Windows 8 Killing PC Sales? Read the Fine Print: The Report of Windows' Death was an Exaggeration

David Johnson

On May 5, 1907, The New York Times published a column written that same morning by Mark Twain on the news of his death the day before. "You can assure my Virginia friends," said Twain, "that I will make an exhaustive investigation of this report that I have been lost at sea. If there is any foundation for the report, I will at once apprise the anxious public." The event led to the oft-misquoted phrase: "The report of my death was an exaggeration."

Everyone it seems, loves a good untimely death
So much so, the Wikipedia maintains a list of 219 famous erroneous death reports. Paul McCartney was reported dead on a radio show in 1966, with fans convinced he'd been replaced by an impostor. Pope John Paul II is on the list with the distinction of being the only known triple recipient of early death news reports. And the US House of Representatives cemented its reputation as the best comedy show in town when news of Bob Hope's death was reported on the floor and broadcast on C-SPAN...five years too early. And so it goes with taking news at face value.
 
Even me
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The Tablet Market Is Fragmenting Into Subcategories

JP Gownder

In recent research, I have laid out some similarities and differences between tablets and laptops. But the tablet market is growing ever more fragmented, yielding subtleties that aren’t always captured with a simple “PC vs. tablet” dichotomy.  As Infrastructure & Operations (I&O) professionals try to determine the composition of their hardware portfolios, the product offerings themselves are more protean. Just describing the “tablet” space is much harder than it used to be. Today, we’re looking at multiple OSes (iOS, Android, Windows, Blackberry, forked Android), form factors (eReader, tablet, hybrid, convertible, touchscreen laptop), and screen sizes (from 5” phablets and to giant 27” furniture tablets) – not to mention a variety of brands, price points, and applications. If, as rumored, Microsoft were to enter the 7” to 8” space – competing with Google Nexus, Apple iPad Mini, and Kindle Fire HD – we would see even more permutations. Enterprise-specific – some vertically specific – devices are proliferating alongside increased BYO choices for workers.

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HP Launches First Project Moonshot Server – The Shape of Things to Come?

Richard Fichera

 

Overview - Moonshot Takes Off

HP today announced the Moonshot 1500 server, their first official volume product in the Project Moonshot server product family (the initial Redstone, a Calxeda ARM-based server, was only available in limited quantities as a development system), and it represents both a significant product today and a major stake in the ground for future products, both from HP and eventually from competitors. It’s initial attractions – an extreme density low power x86 server platform for a variety of low-to-midrange CPU workloads – hides the fact that it is probably a blueprint for both a family of future products from HP as well as similar products from other vendors.

Geek Stuff – What was Announced

The Moonshot 1500 is a 4.3U enclosure that can contain up to 45 plug-in server cartridges, each one a complete server node with a dual-core Intel Atom 1200 CPU, up to 8 GB of memory and a single disk or SSD device, up to 1 TB, and the servers share common power supplies and cooling. But beyond the density, the real attraction of the MS1500 is its scalable fabric and CPU-agnostic architecture. Embedded in the chassis are multiple fabrics for storage, management and network giving the MS1500 (my acronym, not an official HP label) some of the advantages of a blade server without the advanced management capabilities. At initial shipment, only the network and management fabric will be enabled by the system firmware, with each chassis having up two Gb Ethernet switches (technically they can be configured with one, but nobody will do so), allowing the 45 servers to share uplinks to the enterprise network.

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