New Research For The Customer-Obsessed I&O Leader

Dave Bartoletti

It’s no surprise that digital disruption is everywhere. Empowered customers are disrupting every industry, and infrastructure and operations (I&O) leaders must adapt to this new reality. We believe that technology management is in the middle of a new evolutionary cycle that will transform I&O from its traditional role as infrastructure provider to a new role as a broker and manager of technology services.

It’s should also be no surprise, then, that cloud and mobile disruption is putting a strain on traditional infrastructure team organizational structures. Consolidated and hybrid cloud infrastructure needs a new organization, and you need to prepare your team for the new business technology era. To do so, you need to encourage your team to develop service management, automation, collaboration, and marketing skills, to name a few. We’re seeing a spike in inquiries about new organization models to speed the path to cloud.

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Understanding Cloud Costs Gets Easier: Amazon Web Services Rolls Out New TCO Calculator

Dave Bartoletti

Two years ago, I published one of my most popular reports, Understand The True Cost Of Cloud Services. In it I laid out a model to help compare current infrastructure costs against the costs of running equivalent workloads at a traditional hosting provider and in the AWS public cloud. This type of comparison is often the first step in a company’s journey to cloud. Before you start moving workloads to any cloud provider, are you sure the cost savings are really there? The answer isn’t always obvious, and depends on measuring a set of critical metrics, including:

·       Your application load patterns

·       Your current operations team staff costs

·       Your virtualization consolidation ratio

·       Your storage and network hardware, license and administrative costs

·       Your facilities (space, power, cooling) costs

The problem with cloud cost modeling is that it can be hard to get accurate estimates for current costs – find the right people, ask them for cost details, work through the numbers, verify accuracy, project future costs, etc. – and things that take too long just don’t get done. In our model, we used our Relative Cost of Operations methodology to simplify analysis and focus on what changes when you shift to cloud infrastructure. I also faulted some of the public cloud providers for low-balling cloud costs or hiding assumptions in their own on-line cost comparison tools.

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New AWS Management Tool For VMware Is Just That – A New Tool, Not A Cloud Game-Changer

Dave Bartoletti

The new Amazon Web Services Management Portal for vCenter was launched last week and generated a bit of buzz on Twitter and elsewhere. VMware reacted quite strongly, and I think that makes sense in a hyper-competitive cloud market, but it was a bit out of proportion to the real threat posed by the AWS tool.

I doubt most savvy cloud buyers (or VMware admins, for that matter) will think this new plug-in for vCenter is a cloud management tool. It’s not. Like other vCenter plug-ins, it makes it easier for an admin using vCenter to get something done without leaving the wildly popular virtualization management portal (like the P2V or V2V tools of yore). In this case, that something includes VMware-to-EC2 conversions and some basic housekeeping tasks: create an AWS virtual private cloud, launch an instance, etc. Image creation, migration, and basic configuration does not a complete cloud management solution make – there’s a lot more to do to create and manage a hybrid cloud implementation and enable workload portability. But this will make it easier to run conversions to AWS and that irks VMware a bit, since it offers its own public cloud option in vCloud Hybrid Service (vCHS).

Rather than draw attention to how limited the AWS Management Portal is, VMware should use its existence to drive home three important points about the company’s overall cloud positioning:

1) allowing competitors to add plug-ins to manage competing public cloud instances shows that VMware’s not scared to compete for your cloud VMs;

2) vCenter is obviously very sticky and widely used, and AWS wants to get in front of those eyeballs – VMware still has critical admin mindshare; and

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Decoding Huawei – Emergence as a Major IT Player Looms

Richard Fichera

Last month I attended Huawei’s annual Global Analyst Summit, for the requisite several days of mass presentations, executive meetings and tours that typically constitute such an event. Underneath my veneer of blasé cynicism, I was actually quite intrigued, since I really knew very little about Huawei. And what I did know was tainted by popular and persistent negatives – they were the ones who supposedly copied Cisco’s IP to get into the network business, and, until we got better acquainted with our own Federal Government’s little shenanigans, Huawei was the big bad boogie man who was going to spy on us with every piece of network equipment they installed.

Reality was quite a bit different. Ancient disputes about IP aside, I found a $40B technology powerhouse who is probably the least-known and understood company of its size in the world, and one which appears poised to pose major challenges to incumbents in several areas, including mainstream enterprise IT.

So you don’t know Huawei

First, some basics. Huawei’s 2013 revenue was $39.5 Billion, which puts it right up there with some much better-known names such as Lenovo, Oracle, Dell and Cisco.

 

% Revenue / $ revenue (Billions)

Annual Growth rate

Telco & network equipment

70 / $27.7

7%

Consumer (mobile devices)

24 / $9.5

18%

Enterprise business (servers, storage, software)

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Microsoft's New Surface Makes A Strong Case For Device Consolidation

JP Gownder

Yesterday, Microsoft released the Surface Pro 3, a 12" touchscreen device billed as "the tablet that can replace your laptop." Sporting some hard-core computing bona fides (including Intel processors and Windows 8.1) and new innovations (like an active stylus that activates note-taking outside of the lock screen), the device in its third generation offers a new level of mobility despite having a larger screen than its predecessors in the Surface line. It's worth taking a look at:

Microsoft designed the Surface Pro 3 with a variety of seemingly incremental improvements that, once assembled in the same device, make it surprisingly innovative. In fact, you should think about it as quite a departure from the earlier Surface models. With this product, Microsoft makes its best yet argument for device consolidation for the workforce, potentially allowing some workers to stop carrying separate laptop and tablet devices in favor of Pro 3. For consumers, the Surface Pro 3 doesn't act as a substitute for popular 8" form factor tablets, but it might make for a good laptop replacement.

That's not to say it's (to quote the cliche) any sort of "iPad killer"; the starting price of a Surface Pro 3 is higher than the iPad's starting price. It's more like a successor to the laptop -- but one that takes mobility quite seriously. Altogether, it's likely to be popular among prosumers, BYOD consumers, and perhaps some other segments.

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Google Glass Helps Enterprise Workers Help Themselves

JP Gownder

Google recently announced an expansion of its Explorer Edition program to anyone in the U.S. — still at $1,500. This doesn't constitute the mass market release of the product; it's an incremental move to extend its beta program. I believe the move mostly benefits enterprise customers of the device — continuing Forrester's research call that Glass will be more successful among enterprise customers than among consumers, at least in the short term.

Recently, I've received a number of questions about wearables as they pertain to field service work. In the age of the customer, field service work has a direct impact on customer service. Think of the cable repair person. The top reason cable repair people fail to fix a problem with your cable service on the first visit is that they have never seen the specific problem before; it's a long tail of possible problems. Traditionally, the cable person would need to go back to headquarters and log a return visit -- inconveniencing the customer, who might have stayed home from work to meet the repair person, and harming the workforce productivity of the cable company's agents. It's lose-lose.

With wearables, cable companies and other companies employing field workers can increase the percentage of first-time fixes. Recently, ClickSoftware and FieldBit posted a video demonstrating one such solution:

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Is Red Hat Storage The Future Of Software Storage?

Henry Baltazar

With last week's $175M acquisition of storage startup Inktank, the initial developer of the Open Source Ceph storage platform, Red Hat has added another piece to its growing storage portfolio. With large storage players fleshing out their software storage offerings including EMC (ScaleIO, Project Nile), NetApp, HP, and IBM, it's clear that the transition from hardware-centric storage appliances to software storage is underway — and it won't be long before we are at a point where your next array should be an app running on commodity hardware.

Though large storage players have successfully fended off software challengers such as Symantec before, it is telling that nearly all of the major players are developing and marketing their own software storage products, including EMC’s ScaleIO. The drive toward software storage is clearly gaining momentum, and this time around the storage leaders are active participants in addition to startups such as Nexenta Systems and the Open Source projects.

While Red Hat is not a major storage player today, there are a few reasons why this company could become disruptive as the market transitions to software storage:

  • No legacy business to lose. This is probably the most powerful attribute that makes Red Hat dangerous relative to existing storage players. While Red Hat’s market share (in terms of storage revenue and paying customers) is nowhere near the likes of leaders such as NetApp and EMC, its lack of legacy business will allow Red Hat to attack the NAS, object, and block storage market without the sacrifice of losing high-margin storage appliance sales.  
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HP Hooks Up With Foxcon for Volume Servers

Richard Fichera

Yesterday HP announced that it will be entering into a “non-equity joint venture” (think big strategic contract of some kind with a lot of details still in flight) to address the large-scale web services providers. Under the agreement, Foxcon will design and manufacture and HP will be the primary sales channel for new servers targeted at hyper scale web service providers. The new servers will be branded HP but will not be part of the current ProLiant line of enterprise servers, and HP will deliver additional services along with hardware sales.

Why?

The motivation is simple underneath all the rhetoric. HP has been hard-pressed to make decent margins selling high-volume low-cost and no-frills servers to web service providers, and has been increasingly pressured by low-cost providers. Add to that the issue of customization, which these high-volume customers can easily get from smaller and more agile Asian ODMs and you have a strategic problem. Having worked at HP for four years I can testify to the fact that HP, a company maniacal about quality but encumbered with an effective but rigid set of processes around bringing new products to market, has difficulty rapidly turning around a custom design, and has a cost structure that makes it difficult to profitably compete for deals with margins that are probably in the mid-teens.

Enter the Hon Hai Precision Industry Co, more commonly known as Foxcon. A longtime HP partner and widely acknowledged as one of the most efficient and agile manufacturing companies in the world, Foxcon brings to the table the complementary strengths to match HP – agile design, tightly integrated with its manufacturing capabilities.

Who does what?

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IBM Announces Next Generation POWER Systems – Big Win for AIX Users, New Option for Linux

Richard Fichera

On April 23, IBM rolled out the long-awaited POWER8 CPU, the successor to POWER7+, and given the extensive pre-announcement speculation, the hardware itself was no big surprise (the details are fascinating, but not suitable for this venue), offering an estimated  30 - 50% improvement in application performance over the latest POWER7+, with potential for order of magnitude improvements with selected big data and analytics workloads. While the technology is interesting, we are pretty numb to the “bigger, better, faster” messaging that inevitably accompanies new hardware announcements, and the real impact of this announcement lies in its utility for current AIX users and IBM’s increased focus on Linux and its support of the OpenPOWER initiative.

Technology

OK, so we’re numb, but it’s still interesting. POWER8 is an entirely new processor generation implemented in 22 nm CMOS (the same geometry as Intel’s high-end CPUs). The processor features up to 12 cores, each with up to 8 threads, and a focus on not only throughput but high performance per thread and per core for low-thread-count applications. Added to the mix is up to 1 TB of memory per socket, massive PCIe 3 I/O connectivity and Coherent Accelerator Processor Interface (CAPI), IBM’s technology to deliver memory-controller-based access for accelerators and flash memory in POWER systems. CAPI figures prominently in IBM’s positioning of POWER as the ultimate analytics engine, with the announcement profiling the performance of a configuration using 40 TB of CAPI-attached flash for huge in-memory analytics at a fraction of the cost of a non-CAPI configuration.[i]

A Slam-dunk for AIX users and a new play for Linux

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Using Google Glass In Patient-Facing Healthcare Scenarios

JP Gownder

Google Glass is finally being explicitly positioned for enterprise usage -- a concession to the great interest found in many vertical industries (and also among developers who sell to those industries) for using Glass to attract, retain, and serve customers. We'd predicted this trend and have been helping clients in a variety of contexts to design their own enterprise wearables strategies.

For the healthcare vertical, SAP posted a video that has been little seen -- but which deserves more attention -- that helps illustrate some of the detailed usage cases for Google Glass in a hospital context. SAP's HANA platform (about which you can read more via my colleagues Andrew Bartels and Paul Hammerman here or Noel Yuhanna here) empowers a nurse to complete all the tasks in her rounds:

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