Shifting Sands – Changing Alliances Underscore the Dynamism of the Infrastructure Systems Market

Richard Fichera

There is always a tendency to regard the major players in large markets as being a static background against which the froth of smaller companies and the rapid dance of customer innovation plays out. But if we turn our lens toward the major server vendors (who are now also storage and networking as well as software vendors), we see that the relatively flat industry revenues hide almost continuous churn. Turn back the clock slightly more than five years ago, and the market was dominated by three vendors, HP, Dell and IBM. In slightly more than five years, IBM has divested itself of highest velocity portion of its server business, Dell is no longer a public company, Lenovo is now a major player in servers, Cisco has come out of nowhere to mount a serious challenge in the x86 server segment, and HP has announced that it intends to split itself into two companies.

And it hasn’t stopped. Two recent events, the fracturing of the VCE consortium and the formerly unthinkable hook-up of IBM and Cisco illustrate the urgency with which existing players are seeking differential advantage, and reinforce our contention that the whole segment of converged and integrated infrastructure remains one of the active and profitable segments of the industry.

EMC’s recent acquisition of Cisco’s interest in VCE effectively acknowledged what most customers have been telling us for a long time – that VCE had become essentially an EMC-driven sales vehicle to sell storage, supported by VMware (owned by EMC) and Cisco as a systems platform. EMC’s purchase of Cisco’s interest also tacitly acknowledges two underlying tensions in the converged infrastructure space:

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White Box Mania Distracts Everyone And Wreaks Havoc On Investments

Andre Kindness

I’m getting inundated with briefing requests from vendors either coming out with their own white box offerings or somehow supporting the white box market. While white box network solutions provide great value for some industries, more than likely, they are not for your infrastructure but for specific industries such as web scale or high-frequency trading companies. The network world is fragmenting into industry-specific solutions, and the era of Swiss Army knife network hardware is over (see figure below). Mainstream vendors are freaking out because that was their bread and butter. Now they have to figure out who they want to serve. Some uncertain vendors are placing chips on all the squares of the network roulette table; this strategy is a losing proposition for everyone.

Don’t get me wrong. White boxes/bare-metal solutions have their place, but be cautious of the irrational exuberance over this new trend. Resources are finite. The vendors chasing tail lights will at some point have to give up and lock down on a particular path. Activist firm Elliott Management has rattled the cages of some high tech firms and has basically said, “You are killing investors’ return by not simplifying and focusing.” Personally, this might not mean much if you aren’t an investor. However, as an infrastructure and operations professional, you should be concerned about solutions existing a year or two down the road from shotgun-approach vendors; worse yet, you get the effects of a mile-wide, inch-deep investment, which means the solution lags on getting the investments needed to help your company succeed today. 

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I&O leaders and members: what are your KPI's and metrics of today and in the future?

Eveline Oehrlich

Are you struggling with the "right" key performance indicators and metrics for your I&O team/subteam/function?  Let's struggle together and help each other.  We are working on a research project to establish a new I&O Balanced Scorecard for 2015 and we need your help.

We have questions like: 

(1)    What performance does your organization/company require from the I&O organization?

(2)    How do you balance both the performance focus on internal IT (systems of record) with the performance of external (systems of engagement) BT requirements?

(3)    How do you translate these performance needs into objectives for your I&O organization?

(4)    What metrics are key to track to make sure that your I&O organization is meeting its objectives?

(5)    What should a best practice I&O Balanced Scorecard (BSC) look like in 2015?

Help us and help the rest of I&O leaders to develop a new I&O Balanced Scorecard to stay and be relevant to your company.  Reach out to me via a inquiry or email me at eoehrlich@forrester.com and lets talk!

Eveline 

Global Vendors Should Expand Their Ecosystem In China

Frank Liu

Back in June, I blogged about why Chinese technology management professionals have started looking more closely at domestic vendors. One reason: a government-led push away from foreign IT vendors that is forcing global vendors to expand their local ecosystem to exploit new service models and improve service delivery. Chinese tech management teams should keep an eye on new trends and be aware of the benefits they bring.

I recently attended VMware’s vForum 2014 event in Beijing. The vendor has established a local ecosystem for the three pillars of its business: the software-defined data center (SDDC), cloud services, and end user computing. VMware is working with:

  • Huawei to refine SDDC technologies.VMware is leveraging Huawei’s technology capability to improve its product feature. VMware integrated Huawei Agile Controller into NSX and vCenter to operate and manage network automation and quickly migrate virtual machines online. Huawei provides the technology to unify the management of virtual and physical networks based on VMware’s virtualization platform. This partnership can help VMware optimize its existing software features and improve the customer experience.
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Reflections on CA World 2014: CA Technologies Is Going All Disco

Eveline Oehrlich

We attended the recently held CA World 2014 in Las Vegas which we estimate had about 5000 customers. Over and over we kept asking: What’s the intention of CA Technologies for this year’s event?

It’s not just that the event had Magic Johnson speaking about his past career and how he transformed from a world class athlete to a successful business man or the Tuesday night music event by Fray, a rock band from Denver, Colorado.  It was the entire atmosphere of the showcase, keynotes and presentation styles which gave us the feeling this is really a new CA – a CA that wants to shed the image of suits and complex solutions and replace it with T-shirts, jeans and cool, digital solutions. 

Envision a large solution floor scattered with CA Technology solutions and some of their partners; coffee, food and snack stations, surrounded by presentation theaters which featured topics like Business Intelligence, DevOps, Mobility, Security and Business Intelligence.  Very different, very vogue and very modern! Most important we saw a CA which stressed that “every company is a software company and innovation is key to create a powerful advantage” (quote from Amit Chatterjee, CA Technologies during keynote on Tuesday).  Sentences like “we are living in the application economy” and “mobile, the new interface for your mainframe” puzzled and excited both legacy installed base, prospects and other clients. 

As analysts we have to say “Well done CA Technologies”.  For attendees , next steps are how to transform into the digital business.  Keynote presenters from Twitter, Facebook, Nike and Samsung made it sound like a walk in the park – reality is proving us differently, but CA is driving innovation in today’s application economy.  

Cloud Technologies Will Power The Most Successful Businesses In 2015

Dave Bartoletti

What's ahead for cloud computing in 2015? Check out our report for Forrester's take on the most important trends in cloud computing and what you should do about them. In 2014, cloud entered the formal IT portfolio, and technology managers stopped treating cloud as competition. In 2015, cloud technologies will mature into the driving force powering the most successful companies. Cloud enables unparalleled levels of sustained innovation. Companies that harness its power will win, serve and retain customers better than their competitors -- in less time and for less money -- if they take advantage of all the cloud has to offer. But where should you start?

Cloud computing isn't limited to a single technology, service, provider, or deployment model. Our cloud team, including James Staten, Lauren Nelson, Liz Herbert, William Martorelli, and Henry Baltazar, has gathered the most important 2015 trends in public cloud platforms, cloud management, application design, security, service provider strategies, SaaS, private and hybrid cloud. In our ten-prediction report, we describe the current state of the art in cloud, what will happen in 2015, and how you should respond. This report helps you focus on the most important trends first.

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Welcome to the I&O Transformation Playbook.

Jean-Pierre Garbani

To complement the brilliant introduction to the “Infrastructure Transformation Playbook for 2015” by my friend Glenn O’Donnell, the operation’s analyst team, the “O” in I&O, would like to welcome you to the “Infrastructure And Operations Transformation Playbook for 2015”.

In this playbook, we do not predict the future of technology but we try to understand how, in the age of the customer, I&O must transform to support businesses by accelerating the speed of service delivery, enabling capacity when and where needed and improving customers and employee experience.

All industries mature towards commoditization and abstraction of the underlying technology because knowledge and expertise are cumulative. Our industry will follow an identical trajectory that will result in ubiquitous and easier to implement, manage and change technology.

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How To Transform Your Technology Infrastructure: Our New Playbook Is Your Guide

Dave Bartoletti
I want to join Glenn O'Donnell in introducing The Infrastructure Transformation Playbook. The entire I&O team has been working on research for this playbook in the last year, and we think it should be your starting point as you plan your infrastructure priorities for 2015.
 
Cloud and the digital business imperatives you face in 2015 are the external forces driving this transformation. What it means for your internal organization is now's the time to get serious about service design and service delivery. As Glenn, the research director guiding this playbook, says:
 
"Your future lies not in managing pockets of infrastructure, but in how you assemble the many options into the services your customers needs. Our profession has been locally brilliant, but globally stupid. We’re now helping you become globally brilliant. We call this service design, a much broader design philosophy rooted in systems thinking. The new approach packages technology into a finished “product” that is much more relevant and useful than any of the parts alone."
 
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Lost in Service Catalog Taxonomy? Forrester’s Technology Management Service Catalog Taxonomy To The Rescue!

Eveline Oehrlich
When it comes to your Technology Management service catalog, are you lost in arguments on what to call certain categories of services? What are your service families and what is the next level of service elements?  What are the definitions of the service elements? These questions are just the tip of the iceberg of current projects within I&O organizations in defining the rich and complex world of a technology management service catalogs. I&O teams are struggling to architect foundational service catalogs which will support the standardization and optimization efforts of their service offerings. 
 
With that challenge in mind, Forrester created a I&O Technology Management Service Taxonomy - a collection of many service elements, organized by 13 service families. The research consists of a detailed spreadsheet based tool with a variety of service families, service taxonomies and definitions.  The next steps are to understand the business services and capabilities which are enabled through these technology management services.  Some business services and capabilities are similar from one vertical to another.  Our next endeavor is to capture these services as well.  
 
We'd like to make this a living and breathing Service Catalog Taxonomy and plan to publish updates soon. Please send all comments and suggestions to eoehrlich@forrester.com and cgallacher@forrester.com.

Dell Introduces FX system - the Shape of Infrastructure to Come?

Richard Fichera

Dell today announced its new FX system architecture, and I am decidedly impressed.

Dell FX is a 2U flexible infrastructure building block that allows infrastructure architects to compose an application-appropriate server and storage infrastructure out of the following set of resources:

  • Multiple choices of server nodes, ranging from multi-core Atom to new Xeon E5 V3 servers. With configurations ranging from 2 to 16 server nodes per enclosure, there is pretty much a configuration point for most mainstream applications.
  • A novel flexible method of mapping disks from up to three optional disk modules, each with 16 drives - the mapping, controlled by the onboard management, allows each server to appear as if the disk is locally attached DASD, so no changes are needed in any software that thinks it is accessing local storage. A very slick evolution in storage provisioning.
  • A set of I/O aggregators for consolidating Ethernet and FC I/O from the enclosure.

All in all, an attractive and flexible packaging scheme for infrastructure that needs to be tailored to specific combinations of server, storage and network configurations. Probably an ideal platform to support the Nutanix software suite that Dell is reselling as well. My guess is that other system design groups are thinking along these lines, but this is now a pretty unique package, and merits attention from infrastructure architects.

Forrester clients, I've published a Quick Take report on this, Quick Take: Dell's FX Architecture Holds Promise To Power Modern Services