Please Join Our Landmark ITSM Study

Glenn O'Donnell

Shortly before the IT Service Management Forum's annual Fusion conference in 2009, Forrester and the US chapter of IT Service Management Forum (itSMF) put the finishing touches on a partnership agreement between the two entities. There are many aspects of this partnership, including Forrester analysts speaking at numerous itSMF events throughout the year. (I had the pleasure of speaking to and spending the day with the Washington, DC area's National Capital LIG just today!) The truly exciting aspect of the partnership, however, is our intent to perform some joint research on the ITSM movement. By combining Forrester's venerable research and analysis capabilities with the wide and diverse membership of itSMF our hope is to gain unprecedented insight into ITSM trends and sentiments. The beneficiaries will be everyone in the broad ITSM community! What a concept!

Sound the trumpets!

It took us a while to get everything lined up, but I'm delighted to announce that the research study is now live!

The study is open to all itSMF USA members, so we expect a large sample size for the research. That said, we encourage everyone to participate. The results will be tabulated by Forrester, who will perform the analysis and produce the research report on the findings. This report will be free to all itSMF USA members and Forrester clients. If you are neither, that's no problem. If you participate, you are eligible for a free copy, regardless of your affiliation. This is our way of thanking you for your help! Naturally, you will have to provide some contact information so we can send you your copy when it is ready.

Read more

The Empire Strikes Back – Intel Reveals An Effective Low-Power And Micro Server Strategy

Richard Fichera

A lot has been written about potential threats to Intel’s low-power server hegemony, including discussions of threats from not only its perennial minority rival AMD but also from emerging non-x86 technologies such as ARM servers. While these are real threats, with potential for disrupting Intel’s position in the low power and small form factor server segment if left unanswered, Intel’s management has not been asleep at the wheel. As part of the rollout of the new Sandy Bridge architecture, Intel recently disclosed their platform strategy for what they are defining as “Micro Servers,” small single-socket servers with shared power and cooling to improve density beyond the generally accepted dividing line of one server per RU that separates “standard density” from “high density.” While I think that Intel’s definition is a bit myopic, mostly serving to attach a label to a well established category, it is a useful tool for segmenting low-end servers and talking about the relevant workloads.

Intel’s strategy revolves around introducing successive generations of its Sandy Bridge and future architectures embodied as Low Power (LP) and Ultra Low Power (ULP) products with promises of up to 2.2X performance per watt and 30% less actual power compared to previous generation equivalent x86 servers, as outlined in the following chart from Intel:

So what does this mean for Infrastructure & Operations professionals interested in serving the target loads for micro servers, such as:

  • Basic content delivery and web servers
  • Low-end dedicated server hosting
  • Email and basic SaaS delivery
Read more

Dell Delivers vStart – Ready To Run Virtual Infrastructure

Richard Fichera

Another Tier-1 Converged Infrastructure Option

The drum continues to beat for converged infrastructure products, and Dell has given it the latest thump with the introduction of vStart, a pre-integrated environment for VMware. Best thought of as a competitor to VCE, the integrated VMware, Cisco and EMC virtualization stack, vStart combines:

  • Dell PowerEdge R610 and R710 rack servers
  • Dell EqualLogic PS6000XV storage
  • Dell PowerConnect Ethernet switches
  • Preinstalled VMware (trial) software & Dell management extensions
  • Dell factory and onsite services
Read more

The Essential Metrics For Infrastructure And Operations

Rachel Dines

One thing that I’ve found in common across infrastructure and operations groups of all shapes and sizes is that they are continually searching for the ideal set of key performance indicators. A set of metrics that perfectly measures their infrastructure, demonstrates the excellence of their operations, but are still simple and cheap to collect. At least once a week I speak with a client searching for the holy grail of metrics, hopeful that I hold that coveted knowledge. They’re inevitably disappointed to find out that I don’t know what the best set of metrics is, and that I truly think that it doesn’t exist! Sorry if I’m bursting your bubble, but there is no essential set of metrics for all infrastructure and operations organizations. What makes sense for one organization to measure may be completely useless for another organization. What may be very simple to collect at one company is nearly impossible at another.

While I don’t believe in the myth of a single set of perfect metrics for all organizations, I do think it is valuable to learn from other organizations what they are measuring in order to compare them to your own metrics (and maybe steal some of theirs), which is why I am gathering a list of metrics from infrastructure and operations groups globally in order to form a database of metrics. Once we have a good number of metrics on this list, I will work to consolidate them down to the most commonly cited metrics and collect a benchmark on them. We’re calling this project “Forrester's Consensus Metrics For Infrastructure & Operations” and I really hope you’ll consider contributing to it because we can’t do this without your input.

Read more

Facebook Opens New Data Center – And Shares Its Technology

Richard Fichera

A Peek Behind The Wizard's Curtain

The world of hyper scale web properties has been shrouded in secrecy, with major players like Google and Amazon releasing only tantalizing dribbles of information about their infrastructure architecture and facilities, on the presumption that this information represented critical competitive IP. In one bold gesture, Facebook, which has certainly catapulted itself into the ranks of top-tier sites, has reversed that trend by simultaneously disclosing a wealth of information about the design of its new data center in rural Oregon and contributing much of the IP involving racks, servers, and power architecture to an open forum in the hopes of generating an ecosystem of suppliers to provide future equipment to themselves and other growing web companies.

The Data Center

By approaching the design of the data center as an integrated combination of servers for known workloads and the facilities themselves, Facebook has broken some new ground in data center architecture with its facility.

At a high level, a traditional enterprise DC has a utility transformer that feeds power to a centralized UPS, and then power is subsequently distributed through multiple levels of PDUs to the equipment racks. This is a reliable and flexible architecture, and one that has proven its worth in generations of commercial data centers. Unfortunately, in exchange for this flexibility and protection, it extracts a penalty of 6% to 7% of power even before it reaches the IT equipment.

Read more

Intel Ups The Ante At The High End With New E7 CPUs

Richard Fichera

Bigger, Better, Faster Xeon CPUs

Intel today publicly announced its anticipated “Westmere EX” high end Westmere architecture server CPU as the E7, now part of a new family nomenclature encompassing entry (E3), midrange (E5), and high-end server CPUs (E7), and at first glance it certainly looks like it delivers on the promise of the Westmere architecture with enhancements that will appeal to buyers of high-end x86 systems.

The E7 in a nutshell:

  • 32 nm CPU with up to 10 cores, each with hyper threading, for up to 20 threads per socket.
  •  Intel claims that the system-level performance will be up to 40% higher than the prior generation 8-core Nehalem EX. Notice that the per-core performance improvement is modest (although Intel does offer a SKU with 8 cores and a slightly higher clock rate for those desiring ultimate performance per thread).
  • Improvements in security with Intel Advanced Encryption Standard New Instruction (AES-NI) and Intel Trusted Execution Technology (Intel TXT).
  • Major improvements in power management by incorporating the power management capabilities from the Xeon 5600 CPUs, which include more aggressive P states, improved idle power operation, and the ability to separately reduce individual core power setting depending on workload, although to what extent this is supported on systems that do not incorporate Intel’s Node Manager software is not clear.
Read more

What Do Spark Plugs And WLAN Solutions Have In Common?

Andre Kindness

It’s not the most daring and cutting-edge prediction to say 2011 will be Wi-Fi’s second coming. However, you might be caught off guard when I tell you to not worry about a vendor’s WLAN architecture. Your business needs will flush out the right one. Despite the initial hype seven years ago that Wi-Fi was going to be the new edge, it’s been the second choice for most users to connect with at work — but that will change. A tidal wave of wireless devices will be crashing through the enterprise front door very soon. Just look at the carriers scrambling to build out their infrastructure — there’s no shortage of stories about AT&T and their build-out of Wi-Fi in metropolitan areas. And users have fused their work and personal phones and are looking to seek coverage from carrier data plans.

The time to start was yesterday, and you have a ton of work to do. Your edge will be servicing:

  • Employees with corporate netbooks and their own smartphones and/or tablets who watch training videos on YouTube from companies like VMware.
  • Devices like torque tools, temperature sensors in exothermic chambers, ambient light sensors, and a myriad other devices.
  • Contractors with their own laptops, netbooks, tablets, and/or smartphones who need access to specific company applications.
  • Guests like account executives entering customer information into their CRM programs.
  • All the things being developed at venture capital backed incubators.
Read more

Cisco Buys A Credible Automation Entry Point With NewScale

Glenn O'Donnell

Cisco announced today its intent to acquire NewScale, a small, but well-respected automation software vendor. The financial terms were not disclosed, but it is a small deal in terms of money spent. It is big in the sense that Cisco needed the kind of capabilities offered by NewScale, and NewScale has proven to be one of the most innovative and visible players in that market segment.

The market segment in question is what has been described as “the tip of the iceberg” for the advanced automation suites needed to create and operate cloud computing services. The “tip” refers to the part of the overall suite that is exposed to customers, while the majority of the “magic” of cloud automation is hidden from view – as it should be. The main capabilities offered by NewScale deal with building and managing the service catalog and providing a self-service front end that allows cloud consumers to request their own services based on this catalog of available services. Forrester has been bullish on these capabilities because they are the customer-facing side of cloud – the most important aspect – whereas most of the cloud focus has been directed at the “back end” technologies such as virtual server deployment and workload migration. These are certainly important, but a cloud is not a cloud unless the consumers of those services can trigger their deployment on their own. This is the true power of NewScale, one of the best in this sub-segment.

Read more

The Two Words You Need To Know To Turn On Cloud Economics

James Staten

Everyone understands that cloud computing provides pay per use access to resources and the ability to elastically scale up an application as its traffic increases. Those are values that turn on cloud economics, but how do you turn cloud economics to your advantage?

That was the topic of my keynote session at the Cloud Connect 2011 event in Santa Clara, Calif. earlier this month. The video of this keynote can now be viewed on the event website at http://tv.cloudconnectevent.com/. You will need to register (free) on the site. In this short -- six minute -- keynote you will get the answers to this question. I also encourage you to view many of the other keynotes from this same event, as this was the first cloud computing conference I have attended that finally moved beyond Cloud 101 content and provided a ton of great material on how to really take advantage of cloud computing. We still have a long way to go, but this is a great step forward for anyone still learning about the Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) solutions and how they can empower your organization.

If you still aren't experimenting with these platforms, get going. While they won't transform the world, they do give you new deployment options that can accelerate time-to-market, increase deployment flexibility, and prepare you for the new economic model they are bringing to many early adopters today. 

Read more

Oracle Says No To Itanium – Embarrassment For Intel, Big Problem For HP

Richard Fichera

Oracle announced today that it is going to cease development for Itanium across its product line, stating that itbelieved, after consultation with Intel management, that x86 was Intel’s strategic platform. Intel of course responded with a press release that specifically stated that there were at least two additional Itanium products in active development – Poulsen (which has seen its initial specifications, if not availability, announced), and Kittson, of which little is known.

This is a huge move, and one that seems like a kick carefully aimed at the you know what’s of HP’s Itanium-based server business, which competes directly with Oracle’s SPARC-based Unix servers. If Oracle stays the course in the face of what will certainly be immense pressure from HP, mild censure from Intel, and consternation on the part of many large customers, the consequences are pretty obvious:

  • Intel loses prestige, credibility for Itanium, and a potential drop-off of business from its only large Itanium customer. Nonetheless, the majority of Intel’s server business is x86, and it will, in the end, suffer only a token loss of revenue. Intel’s response to this move by Oracle will be muted – public defense of Itanium, but no fireworks.
Read more