IBM Amps up the Mainframe and Aggressively Targets Mobile Workloads with new z13 Announcement

Richard Fichera

On one level, IBM’s new z13, announced last Wednesday in New York, is exactly what the mainframe world has been expecting for the last two and a half years – more capacity (a big boost this time around – triple the main memory, more and faster cores, more I/O ports, etc.), a modest boost in price performance, and a very sexy cabinet design (I know it’s not really a major evaluation factor, but I think IBM’s industrial design for its system enclosures for Flex System, Power and the z System is absolutely gorgeous, should be in the MOMA*). IBM indeed delivered against these expectations, plus more. In this case a lot more.

In addition to the required upgrades to fuel the normal mainframe upgrade cycle and its reasonably predictable revenue, IBM has made a bold but rational repositioning of the mainframe as a core platform for the workloads generated by mobile transactions, the most rapidly growing workload across all sectors of the global economy. What makes this positioning rational as opposed to a pipe-dream for IBM is an underlying pattern common to many of these transactions – at some point they access data generated by and stored on a mainframe. By enhancing the economics of the increasingly Linux-centric processing chain that occurs before the call for the mainframe data, IBM hopes to foster the migration of these workloads to the mainframe where its access to the resident data will be more efficient, benefitting from inherently lower latency for data access as well as from access to embedded high-value functions such as accelerators for inline analytics. In essence, IBM hopes to shift the center of gravity for mobile processing toward the mainframe and away from distributed x86 Linux systems that they no longer manufacture.

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Transformation Fatigue? Don't Let That Stop You.

Eveline Oehrlich

The Webster Dictionary describes fatigue (also sometimes called exhaustion, tiredness, languor, lassitude or listlessness) as "a subjective feeling of tiredness which is distinct from weakness, and has a gradual onset."  

Technology management transformations - and in specific, I&O transformations - suffer from fatigue in many organizations.  Some of it is due to the fact that the term "transformation" is more jargon than anything real.  Transformation means many things to many people and therfore we never really exit a transformation as we move from project to project, continually transforming.  

If I asked you, does I&O transformation mean reshaping your architecture? Streamlining your service management and integration (SIAM) processes? Adjusting your automation strategy? Improving your application performance management to become more proactive?  Reducing operational cost? Shifting your infrastructure and applications into the cloud? You would say "yes" to all of them, with all of them being described as some kind of transformation.  Eliminating fatigue means following a transformation plan.  The plan needs to be supported with details to shift the conversation from costs of the technology “feeds and speeds” to how the technology will enable the business to win, serve, and retain their customers.

What I&O Leaders Should Look For At CES

JP Gownder

This weekend, I’ll be heading off to Las Vegas for the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Infrastructure & Operations leaders should – and do – keep tabs on the news coming out of CES. In this era of consumerization, bring-your-own (BYO) technology, and Shadow IT, CES announcements affect the I&O role more than ever before. I have three tips for how to think about CES 2015:

  • Look at consumer technologies through a workforce lens. So many smart, connected products quickly migrate to the workforce. Sometimes these technologies enter via BYO and segue into company-owned, as tablets have done over the past few years. In other cases, vendors that target consumers immediately see the value their products can bring to workforce scenarios. For example, I recently spoke with Jonathan Palley, CEO of Spire, a wearable device that tracks not just activity but also state of mind (tension versus calm, focus versus distraction, and related states). While the product was launched to the consumer market just about a week ago, Jonathan made clear that “workforce is a huge part of our strategy as well.” Imagine helping workers remain in a more productive, less stressed state of mind via wearables.
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OpenStack Development Will Accelerate Rapidly In China Market In 2015

Frank Liu

As the interest of Chinese organizations to adopt cloud solutions for business transformation is increasing, OpenStack-based cloud solutions have become the hot topic in the China market in 2014. I believe that 2015 will be the key year for OpenStack and it will rapidly develop in China. Here’s why:

  • Government policy support. The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) of China held the first China Open Source & Cloud Computing Summit (COSCCS) on December 11. At this event, the Chinese government for the first time officially declared its intention to support OpenStack ecosystems and encourage state-owned enterprises (SOE) to use OpenStack-based cloud products: “…through OpenStack, we can contribute to a good business model…” said the deputy minister of MIIT. Forrester believes that there will be more and more Chinese SOEs and local governments that will invest in OpenStack-based cloud project in 2015.
  • OpenStack is mature as a private cloud solution. With the launch of the Juno version in October 2014, OpenStack addressed many upgrade concerns, making it easier to roll back a failed deployment and ensure thorough cleanup. It also added a record 3,219 bug fixes and enterprise features, such as storage policies, provisioning of Hadoop and Spark, as well as network functions virtualization (NFV). Another specific advantage is that Chinese organizations are not facing the challenge to upgrade from early releases of OpenStack because the China market started deployment of OpenStack mostly from 2014 onwards.
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Chinese Private Cloud Market Trends For 2015

Frank Liu

Following the launch of my recent report, The Dynamics Of China’s Private Cloud Market, I’ve been getting briefing requests from vendors and inquiries from end users. My report addresses most of their concerns, such as the vendor landscape, business scenarios, and industry practices. However, following my discussions with many Chinese private cloud end users, I also thought it would be helpful to share with you the top developing trends among Chinese organizations using private cloud. They:

  • Are starting to expand private cloud scenarios for production applications.Initially, many Chinese organizations deployed private cloud solutions for development and testing scenarios. These organizations are now starting to transfer their business-critical workloads, such as CRM, databases, and other unique applications, to private cloud environments. Why? Because Chinese organizations have started to virtualize their critical workloads.For example, China Telecom set up a self-service private cloud platform for its eight province-level branch operators in 2011; in 2014, China Telecom started to gradually transfer its business and operations support systems (BSS/OSS) to the private cloud.
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Mainframe Futures – Reading the Tea Leaves for Future Investments

Richard Fichera

I’ve been getting a steady trickle of inquires this year about the future of the mainframe from our enterprise clients. Most of them are more or less in the form of “I have a lot of stuff running on mainframes. Is this a viable platform for the next decade or is IBM going to abandon them.” I think the answer is that the platform is secure, and in the majority of cases the large business-critical workloads that are currently on the mainframe probably should remain on the mainframes. In the interests of transparency I’ve tried to lay out my reasoning below so that you can see if it applies to your own situation.

How Big is the Mainframe LOB?

It's hard to get exact figures for the mainframe contributions to IBM's STG (System & Technology Group) total revenues, but the data they have shared shows that their mainframe revenues seem to have recovered from the declines of previous quarters and at worst flattened. Because the business is inherently somewhat cyclical, I would expect that the next cycle of mainframes, rumored to be arriving next year, should give them a boost similar to the last major cycle, allowing them to show positive revenues next year.

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Bare Metal Clouds – Performance and Isolation Drive Consideration

Richard Fichera

I’ve been talking to a number of users and providers of bare-metal cloud services, and am finding the common threads among the high-profile use cases both interesting individually and starting to connect some dots in terms of common use cases for these service providers who provide the ability to provision and use dedicated physical servers with very similar semantics to the common VM IaaS cloud – servers that can be instantiated at will in the cloud, provisioned with a variety of OS images, be connected to storage and run applications. The differentiation for the customers is in behavior of the resulting images:

  • Deterministic performance – Your workload is running on a dedicated resource, so there is no question of any “noisy neighbor” problem, or even of sharing resources with otherwise well-behaved neighbors.
  • Extreme low latency – Like it or not, VMs, even lightweight ones, impose some level of additional latency compared to bare-metal OS images. Where this latency is a factor, bare-metal clouds offer a differentiated alternative.
  • Raw performance – Under the right conditions, a single bare-metal server can process more work than a collection of VMs, even when their nominal aggregate performance is similar. Benchmarking is always tricky, but several of the bare metal cloud vendors can show some impressive comparative benchmarks to prospective customers.
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Smart, Connected Devices Reshape Customer Experiences in Healthcare and Insurance

JP Gownder

We're living in a time when smart, connected devices -- tablets, smartphones, wearable devices, Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and the like -- are being woven into the Business Technology (BT) Agenda of most companies. Nowhere is this trend more intimately applied to the customer experience than in healthcare, where devices near our bodies, on our bodies, or even inside our bodies are changing the way doctors, insurers, and other healthcare players think about patient care.

In a a major new report, Four Ways Connected Devices Improve Patient Care, we've researched how mobile, cloud, and connected devices come together to reshape the patient care experience. Technology innovations on the device and services side are creating new treatment options. And systemic changes to the healthcare system are creating both challenges and opportunities, which these emerging technologies can help address. For instance:

  • Busy doctors spend too much time on electronic health record (EHR) data entry. And when they use a traditional PC in the room with a patient, it's not always a great experience; one doctor told us he felt his "back was to the patient" too often. The solution? Moving to a Surface Pro 3 tablet, armed with better software, which allows the clinician to face the patient directly while still saving time -- and gaining accuracy -- on EHR data entry.
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It Isn’t Over Till The Customer Sings (at ONUG)

Andre Kindness

Wow. Certain networking vendors have started to declare they are winners, while others say software defined network (SDN) is over. All I have to say (in my best George Takei voice) is, “Oh, my!” I’m lucky enough to spend most of my day interacting with many end users to know that those statements clearly show how out of touch some vendors are with customers. Let me make this clear: In today’s environment, only customers can make those statements, and this is probably why some vendors don’t get it. It is a foreign concept and vendors are in the denial stage of loss, losing power to customers.

This realization hit me like a ton of bricks at Open Networking User Group conference in New York City. This hasn’t happened any time in the past within the networking world. Customers are dictating requirements. This is not the same concept as the market deciding the best technology after it gets developed, such as CDP vs LLDP, EIGRP vs OSPF, etc. In this new world, customers are defining network characteristics before the technology exists or has been developed by the vendor community. Don’t believe me? Read through ONUG’s white paper on vendor development guidelines regarding investment directions and proof of concepts (POCs) of SDN and network function virtualization (NFV) for the user community.  

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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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