Software Defined Enterprise: Bridging to the Cloud


Welcome 2014! I hope it is a glorious year in which we all realize our healthy doses of the tremendous change that has been bearing down on us for the last couple of years. What change? You know the line up:  cloud, big data, real-time computing, mobile, etc.  For 2014,with the change, we will also continue to see a fair dose of hype. The hype will go on and possibly increase in volume as vendor providers aggressively click their hockey sticks at the puck of progress.  For this blog, I’d like to get into one topic I feel is getting over-played at the moment; public clouds.

No haters please!  I am not saying public clouds in total are hype, but there is an expansiveness that reads to me as overly eager. Public clouds are a handful of years in the making and there are some great successes to point out “Salesforce”, “iCloud”, “Ariba” are just a few examples of successful business models that have proven the validity of public clouds. These examples have additionally demonstrated adequate stability for businesses in order for companies to consider leveraging this innovation. These are rudimentary steps toward an inevitable shift towards what I call the utilization of IT. Public clouds will continue to increase in importance. The ultimate spoiler was Nicholas Carr when he called out this trend years ago in his book “The Big Switch”.  I also agree this is not a question of “if” but “when” and in what manner. With all this said, I think we’re going too fast. I am seeing an over-rotation to what looks like a “2-minute drill” to drive public clouds into all aspects of IT for mid market and multi-national organizations, ASAP! However, I believe we’re still building the necessary groundwork to make this feasible and I worry about the risks.

One doesn’t have to watch the news for more than a couple of weeks to see a significant cloud outage, or massive breaches in corporate security. As a global industry that is building new cloud disciplines, we are less than a decade into a massive inter-connected world where everyone leaves their digital signature throughout their endless online activities.  Corporations open themselves up to constant attack from malicious opportunists in order to try to keep up with the growing opportunity within this global online economy. This alone is a MASSIVE step forward and we haven’t gotten it right yet. Like a fine wine, our processes and technology have to evolve/mature. We’ve become a society where the gas pedal must stay flat to the floor (and I’m the worst…), but we have trillions of dollars at stake in this evolution. If we have learned from our history (e.g. DotCom, Year 2000 bug) we will remember as IT escalates and speeds beyond our ability to consume the change, we find ourselves sub-optimized and less wealthy from our over-steps.  Ultimately in these scenarios we find ourselves led to a correction of some sort and back to the whiteboard for remediation work. It’s a significant hit to productivity and unnecessary.

Evolution, it takes time…

If we all agree it would be great to avoid another unproductive, over-zealous dive into the future, let me offer a governing function for your consideration. What I see trending in businesses is a smaller, more prudent step that creates less risk, but still delivers profound change that optimizes operations and builds a foundation for better decision-making.

I call it the Option E business model where the “E” stands for everything.  If given a clean choice, I believe corporations will not choose: “Public Clouds”, “Private Clouds”, “Appliances”, “Traditional Data Centers”, but option E… all of the above. Companies will choose to leverage all types of market offerings in order to address their specific needs and strike a balance between value and risk to match their profile. This approach can be aligned with the concept of the “Software Defined Enterprise” (SDE). SDE is the transformational change where functionality is abstracted away from its hardware limits through virtualization. We’ve all tested the waters of virtualization and reaped the benefits. However once you are 100% virtualized and you move into this realm of SDE, it’s like crossing over into OZ. Now things that were manual and slow, can become automated and agile. No longer do you have to wait on a FedEx truck to stand up a replacement server. You can provision automated/on the fly, and disaster recovery becomes a button click. This is all possible because now it is virtual: a software-based world.

What’s important here is SDE is integral in the delivery of all clouds, so you will be leveraging SDE regardless of your plan. The question is will you get the most from it? Are you reworking your processes to exploit it? Have you squeezed out the buffers and slack time that are prevalent in traditional IT processes? That “protective layer of fat” was there to reduce risk, but now it is not needed. Ultimately these efficiencies equate to real dollars and speed to the business.

Ok, so why not just jump to public cloud and wash your hands of it all? Aren’t public clouds the future? Maybe, but there are some good reasons to gauge your plans. I already mentioned there are more risks associated with public clouds than your traditional IT operations. I want to add a few other reasons to consider. A big reason you should pace yourself is cost. Today you are evaluating the “cost” and “speed” of public clouds against your traditional operations. This is an unfair fight. You have potentially $10-$50-$100 million or more of optimization opportunity within your business that can be easily attained.  One of the best examples of this is EMC’s transformation to SAP and ITaaS. The project was called Propel (http://bit.ly/LBARIA), please give it a read.cropped-crayons2.jpg

There are many examples of companies insourcing workloads that previously sat on public clouds, and as a result saved millions in operational costs. Publicly offered clouds are first and foremost convenient, although they rarely stack up against a hybrid SDE model on protection, cost and flexibility.

Finally, some of the public cloud offerings today are a bit like Hotel California: “You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave….” Today, It can be difficult to divest from a public cloud decision. Companies who have spent little to no time building disciplines and processes around SDE ( service brokering, automation, classification, portability, migration, security, etc) are taking undue risks with their customers’ data and with their corporate viability itself.  We must remember that, although as a global commercial/industrial complex, we are working to reduce the cost and complexity of Information Technology, we have never been more DEPENDENT UPON IT!

In summary, its time to evolve, plan your steps wisely. Look to convert IT from an operations function, to a broker of services leveraging all that is available to you to meet and exceed your constituents’ expectations.  This means developing news skills and new processes. Also it is important, to keep your C’s & V’s from signing quick checks that rob the company of opportunity and take away the CIO’s ability to effect positive change. Build a story about your approach to evolving the business. Taking control of that corporate perspective of clouds is your prime objective. It’s not really about clouds, it’s about providing a service. Don’t let your company give away your competitive advantage in an effort to evolve.  Good luck, and ping me if you want to brainstorm about your company’s plans.

I’d Rather have a Jeep and a Tent than an RV


If you are like me (hopefully you’re not), you just shoved a 5-state travel-a-palooza into three days of your short holiday. If you did, you might have seen me driving my breadbox on four wheels.  When I say breadbox, I mean my square; right angled 4-door Jeep Wrangler with manual 6-speed and limited slip differential.  I expect your response to this new insight is… “Why is this successful IT leader hauling around like a college wannabe in a Jeep and not in some token of European engineered refinement?” I offer in response, because my mountain bike and kayak fit great on it whether the top is up or down…  When I said “breadbox”, you might have thought I was talking about the other breadbox on the road, the recreational vehicle or “RV” as we’ve come to call this elephant of the road.  I saw a few while driving, but I wasn’t that poor soul.

IMG_1214

Thinking about these two ambulatory machines does however provide me with a great metaphor for the change we see in the IT industry. Let me explain further… On the East coast USA, we tend all plan, for our families, the proverbial trip through the Western United States (aka #TripOutWest). When one plans such a trip, you end up considering taking an RV along for the ride. I have considered this trip myself. Each time I have I always end up back in the same position; I would rather have a Jeep and a tent, than an RV.

First off RV’s are super expensive and don’t hold their value.  They not only cost a lot, they cost even more to run them.  They are bulky and lumbering to drive. Then when its time to park, you pull into a questionable camp ground, where you and a hundred guys named “Bubba” park diagonally 10 feet apart, all loosely connected to an aromatic septic system, which you had to hook up, right after you balanced the RV with stands. For this pleasure you spend $59.99 a night. We’re not done. Because your transportation became your immobile home, you have additionally been hauling a trailer with a golf cart on the back, or…. Yep you guessed it… a Jeep.

Alternately, you can optimize your story. A Jeep is cheaper, more agile, and flatly more fun than an RV. I can get there faster, drive further, and climb trails if I like. From within the ample trunk space, I can grab the tent, walk a couple miles into the woods and experience real camping; finding the wilderness I so long to commune with (not Bubba’s cigar smoke).  Additionally, there are many adequate Motor Lodges where I can rent a room for $59.99 a night providing me better comforts of home than my RV’s shower/toilet combo.  Better yet, since I am sleeping under the stars for some of the trip, I can spend even more on my rooms.  Bottom-line I have a cheaper, more profound experience, and I am not burdened by excessive weight and complexity.

This brings me to IT and the changes we are experiencing as we evolve to what IDC has coined the “Third Platform”. Social is big, the global-mobile user has become the new user. We have the consumerization of the application as platforms burst into a seeming-less infinite number of business services functionality. Cloud computing collapses traditional data center strategies; and big data provides new opportunities for revenue and customer service for those who can master it. If the third platform is your “Trip out West”, how do you choose your tools?  Do you want an RV?  All in one does everything and yet nothing well approach?  Probably not.

The economics for re-platforming are now available. Companies are looking at redefining their landscape to best stage for opportunity. Through this process, workloads like OLTP and OLAP aren’t going away they are just becoming less value-able and less optimal to be the top of the food chain any longer; if compared to new business services like “real-time remote decision support” as an example.  However, new and faster doesn’t mean you can now apply a one-size-fits-all approach.  Every company has to reassess the workloads of the future and build out IT to support that. Or within the metaphor, build IT like a “Jeep and a tent”. The jeep is your core IT competencies, the hotel is your off-prem compute when you need it, the tent is your efficient provisioning and orchestration that increases your ability to respond and exploit opportunities that present themselves.

I can continue to apply the metaphor to the software industry. I think software vendors have to additionally re-think the concept of “platform”. I question the staying power and momentum of the traditional platform play as an effort to stem the tides of change that rage against this model. Platform providers need to free themselves from the concept of being a stand-alone platform and become collection of compute engines and value based processes that are part of an interconnected network of compute and connectivity where data and activities flow across. Otherwise the “platform” will be just another node on an endless network of nodes becoming irrelevant. Everyone else, who is competing on this floating field of play, will have decoupled from the burden of “platform” and become 100% focused on creating inter-operable, purpose-built computing at lightening speeds.

IMG_0761Though an iconic platform of the past, the Jeep still envelopes the principles of what we want in the future: agility, toughness, stability, and performance at a fair value. My recommendation…buy a Jeep, lift kit is optional.

The Candle Story


As we all celebrate the brilliance of our modern Christmas season, a portion of the strength I pull from this time of year comes from something deeper, more ancient.  I am taken back to an archaic time, time before Christmas or even Saturnalia. A time whose traditions shine through other celebrations like Hanukah and the Norse traditions of Yule.   I go back to a time where we as a people were at our most primitive state. Where life was more physical, more vulnerable, and we had no conveniences such as lights, or heating, or well chairs.

This time was a very new time for us, and we began to form our first traditions and build a diverse global culture.  During these times, in this season, the hunting was slowing, the berries were gone, the land laid ensconced in ice and the darkness at night seemed endless. Man’s answer to this bleakness was one of hope. Someone; man, woman, or child first raised up a flame as a symbol of the brightness and warmth yet to come again in the spring, and our friends and families found happiness in the simple act of togetherness around the swirling crackle of a well-primed fire.  I don’t know what they called this celebration, if anything at all, but I know we share an instinctual imprint of these early times in common still today, warmth from fire and the fondness of others we hold close.

images-1

This season, please have a Merry Christmas, a Happy Pancha Ganapati, or celebrate in your own tradition.  With this time I ask you to light a candle with someone, sing a song, tell a story, or just watch the flame. For in this act you reach back to your beginnings, bonding with all those who have come before, and carry on for all those who will come after.

Merry Christmas

HANA Cloud, Mobile, and Sports Analytics – Sapphire Followup


So I am back from 4 weeks on the road and I wanted to do a follow up from SapphireNOW. Based on the economy and the general gossip in the industry around travel restrictions that many companies have in place, I was concerned both EMC World and Sapphire would be “lite” to say the least. However, I found that not to be true, both shows were busy, with little options to find a seat. Even the beanbag chairs were taken. I mean who sits in a beanbag chair in a suit…?

IMG_3428 I have now been to around 6 Sapphire and SAP TechED events each and I can pretty much call what the buzz is going to be about. I said before the show. “Cloud, Cloud, HANA, HANA, HANA”, I also said you would see emerging innovations from smaller companies taking the new platforms and making purpose-built solution bundles. I was completely right.  With that said, I did find a few insights during the show of which many I will work into this Blog.  So how about some highlights you say? OK!

First, let’s talk up the keynotes. Unlike Oracle, this isn’t the Larry show, the stage is a bit egalitarian and its somewhat an art form in the way SAP integrates global social issues into their software roadmap. This year, Bill McDermott, has expanded on his traditional “sexy-customer” parade of UnderArmour and McClaren, by adding a few organizations from major league sports industry. The MC this year was James Brown from CBS Sports…good call. (An upgrade from the Morning Joe host last year) James and Bill introduced their all-star line up: Kevin Plank x-U of M special teams star and CEO of Under Armour, the deputy commissioner of the NBA, Adam Silver; and San Francisco 49ers CEO Jed York all up on stage in a sports show theme format. They drove into how analytics are changing the game of sports across training, marketing and fan consumption. It was mentioned that China alone has over 450 million fans of the NBA. Wow, can you imagine how that will effect the price of a season ticket over time?  This is a great example of how massive an opportunity exists to find consumers with technology and without technology, you can never supplyenough product to them. Imagine a stadium that could hold the global demand…  By the way, they carried this theme on to the show floor. Is was like walking into a Dicks Sporting Goods in some areas. They even had Gary Payton from the Sonics doing demos and talking to customers (Last year I didn’t see Reggie Jackson do any iPad demos…)

Ok, I got to admit, the theme was so good,that when they were in the keynote, I kept waiting to talk about how the Baltimore Ravens let there Super Bowl winning team completely disband (Protect this House!). It made me want to go watch a little sportsbar TV.  I also wonder if Bill has put too much pressure on HANA? Can HANA’s analytics prowess alone fix the 49er’s? Probably not.  Bill, EMC is based in Boston and we have many sports partners. The Patriots and the Red Sox may be a better test bed for HANA.  Ok my diplomacy seems to vacate when I talk sports, so let’s move on.

IMG_3423

Jim Snabe took stage day 2 and in his normal flair, started with a big image of a indian tiger. He talked about how this female was an evolved specimen, close to perfection. He then moved into a discussion of evolution and anthropology. He took us from big bang, to dinosaurs to “in memory” and “persistence storage” requirements for HANA (only Snabe…)  I loved it, he is a great speaker.  Last year Jim said “The stone age didn’t end because they ran out of stones, and the disk age won’t end because we run out of disks”. Again, I loved how clever that comment was, BUT last year HANA was all in-memory in the diagrams. Customers by the droves walked up to us and asked “is disk dead”? I injected my reality that has unfolded. That reality is like electricity, there is a natural evolution of Information Technology that started in late 1800′s, and we are on that journey that will carry us forward for at least a couple more decades further as we  “utilitize” IT. I also believe large customers will deeply leverage HANA, but storage and data center ready solutions will continue to be critical functionality. A catchy quote and a sales quota isn’t going to change these trends. This year, Snabe’s diagram put storage back in a prime position. This to me means SAP’s HANA is maturing and they are listening to their customers, which is a good thing. For example, most customers want to see HANA in their landscape standards, not a rip and replace appliance model. This you could see in the tenets of the keynote narrative.

IMG_3431

Hasso Plattner, took the stage on Day 3. Hasso literally took the audience through a 501 level data structures class discussing memory allocations, columnar databases, merge tables, indexes, etc.  At first I was like this is odd to have the chairman of a large company taking me through a DBA level discussion, but then I was actually quite impressed with his intimacy with the details and the fact that most people who focus on this knowledge never become executives in top-level companies. He is a unique man. I thought it was an informative refresher. At the same time Hasso made a few comments that worked like a cross-cut saw against the grain of the industry trends.  For example he brought up Virtualization and said (paraphrased) that virtualization is good for splitting up infrastructure between multiple small companies, and he said we never virtualize large companies. He was using this in a context of HANA, but WOW this is so not the direction of the customer base. First virtualization has been a huge driver for transformation across SAP customers building for the  last 5 years. EMC, Cisco, VMW, and Intel built the Joint Venture VCE and their Vblock product a little over 3 years ago, creating the converged infrastructure market. “I often tell people casually virtualized converged infrastructure is half the price of traditional and twice as fast”. Of course I am lying, its actually much better than that, but no one would believe me without facts. In the last 4 weeks, I have met with say 150-175 SAP customers? (Many of them the biggest companies in the world) I will tell you 90% or more of them have virtualized a significant portion of their landscape or will do so in the next 12 months. Here’s an example of EMC “Riding our own Wave“.  X86 has won, virtualization is a done deal, and HANA will need to support it. VMWare and SAP had a big announcement last week at Sapphire on Virtual HANA, they have dislodged it from the “single node” limitation that neutered its value and I now see virtual HANA demand increasing over the next 12 months.

IMG_3425

What else…Mobile users, I saw some maturation in the mobile community. There were let’s say 15 or so booths dedicated to mobile solutions companies. SAP additionally has evolved some of their interfaces. Including cool stuff around analytics toolsets from Hasso Platner  Institute in Pottsdam. I don’t believe I have ever seen so many tablet displays on a show floor , short of a Microsoft or Apple conference.

IMG_3413

Who was busy?  All booths looked busy, well… Oracle’s booth had to hire an exterminator to keep the cricket noise down, but hey that’s to be expected at an SAP conference. At OpenWorld, I imagine the SAP booth is pretty empty. Actually I would say the big names in platform were slightly less attended than the booths of consulting companies (Picture below is from Optimal’s Party at ICE BAR (they must be broke…because it was packed). I don’t have pictures but the same is true for events I attended with Deloitte, Secure24/Sparta, Wipro, and Accenture. It seems everyone is super busy in 2013.
IMG_3401

Additionally the small start ups seemed busy for purpose-built solutions.  This is a trend for Sapphire, because of the high number of Line of Business attendees who focus on company processes and I think its also fair to say SAP has transitioned the conversation from cost-cutting optimization to innovation over the last two shows which drives focus to the business process change agents.

There were many announcements about the Cloud. Examples include CSC announcing SAP support in Cloud IU, SAP announced HANA Enterprise Cloud, and VMW announced VMWare Cloud support for SAP HANA. I am pretty familiar with some of the details. As far as prep work, I am huge fan of the CSC Cloud IU offering, their investment in assets, processes and creating a top-notch cloud offering is second to none. There pipeline has been swelling drastically following Cloud IU’s introduction and I’m sure they had a busy Sapphire. We co-sponsored a customer reception and I got to hear first hand from their execs in charge, David Parsons and Lou DeCarlo, on the staging and solution streams they have injected into the process. Here’s a video at the show from Dave on the topic. Worth a deep review if you are serious about the cloud.  The SAP offering is a Bring Your Own license model, which currently only offers 99.5.. uptime for the customers. I think it is a smart move for SAP  to get the customers and partners engaged in HANA as a service. I also talked to some of the partners who are back-ending the offering and they seem to have some talent, but I am not sure if this is primary direction for SAP. Offering HR on a cloud is easy money, hosting HANA for ECC or say AFS in the cloud is another matter, (which they theoretically will consider on a customer by customer basis as of GA last week). Either way it moves the ball forward for HANA. Finally, VMWare’s cloud offering is a serious contender in its support and features. VMWCloud (my nickname for it) offers a virtualized subscription service which will have a sales channel through multiple paths including SAP. Both CSC and VMW’s offerings are not SAP specific, so customers can look at a broader landscape as they plan for the cloud. With that said I see most customers looking to put module by module in the cloud, not move entire landscapes, so we’ll see how these, and other offerings, will be consumed. I do believe there is a healthy market for HANA by the drip to address specific needs, you can see the options formulating now.

I will finish with one insight, I see the squeeze through the portal of today’s battle for dominance hinged on these factors:  Cloud, Big Data, Mobile and In-memory computing. You could say that 6 of the top 10 HiTech players will be in head to head war to win this cocktail of the new economy. I say just like Client/Server I believe this will be an expanding function, a reverse funnel. From Micro-computer to Client/Server we expanded the eco-system, demand and opportunity, we didn’t shrink it. Though we’ll continue to see consolidation of the HiTech industry, we’ll also see more options for cloud, big data, mobile and in-memory computing options, we’ll see a new level of interope

rability, and a growing productivity as the result. The question is how much of this will be on-premise, and how much will be addressed behind closed data center doors of cloud providers? Honestly, I don’t know the mix yet.

IMG_3398

I will predict that both SAP and EMC are great harbingers of change who have a great deal of synergies which will positively impact a very important joint customer base.

On my way to Sapphire


I am sitting in the Airport heading off to a week of Sapphire. That means 17-20 hour days, endless meetings, new friends and catchups with many old friends.

What will we hear at Sapphire?

- I predict we’ll see more formalizaton of options for HANA. Customers will be able to buy hana from a wider array of partners with more options than the inital appliances that exist on the PAM today.

- I predict a heavy dose of cloud and virtualization for non-HANA components of the SAP landscape. currently our demand in this area is through the roof.

- I suspect this is the year that smaller vendors start showing up with hana specific applications and toolsets they have built. This will be interesting to see the innovation within a growing ecosystem

- I know I will have several meetings that tighten the grip on our partner Go To Markets. Similar to SAP’s partner grow plans, EMC has massively expanded its partner model over the last 3-4 years. Last week this matured into a merger of our Velocity Partner and Channel programs into a consolidated upgrade: EMC Business Partner program. This allows our customers more flexible options to get to the cloud in any form they wish and/or stage hosting in almost any location(s) on the planet for SAP Landscapes.

- Interesting thing is SAP is having a special event on Human Face of Big Data project and Book written by Rick Smolan. SAP repected the work Rick did in capturing how Big Data is changing the world. The interesting part is EMC is the primary sponsor of HFBD and its great to have a partner like SAP recognnize the work in this way (check out my previous blog on this for more data). I hear there’s a more creative work coming on this topic too.

-Ok plane is leaving, i’ll be writing more later!

If you are at the show find me at twitter: asitison

Brian Gallagher talks in The Real World about cloud storage


Typed in the field —- Excuse the typos

During Brian Gallagher’s ESD keynote, he took the audience through the changes to the VMAX product line.

Here’s some highlights frm his presentation

- 17 VMAX breakout sessions At EMC World

-VMAX Cloud Edition. During the discussion ran a video on the transformation of Navitare, Accenture spin off for airline industry.

-Vmax cloud , provision faster, 34% lower tco, and provide ITaaS with more consistency than AWS.

-VMAX Clud provides automation, strong use metrics as is sized simply through capacity and or performance needs

- Vmax runs 3x faster other compeition. vmax can optimise data placement in an exclusive way,
across data centers (up to 4).

-2.5 x faster than HP 3par and with replication it doubles its time to respond. Aka “Wicked Bad”

- Brian also talked about Vplex. Which had an interesting data factoid.

-It runs in 52% of the top 200 companies

- VRPA. EMC has virtualized recover point appliance allowing for more flexibilty and better cost for a portion of their clients. Brian said this is a sign of things to come

-CMA had a video. Talked about using Oracle RAC on VMAX as the best of breed platofrm for their busieness. Performance, scale, and reliabilty was quoted as the features that were most important. CMA can add many terabytes of data in a sngle day

- Future of Cloud storage, FAST today puts right data in right place at right time since its release in 2009 it has been impactful on optimzing capx optx for EMC customers. This week we”‘re extending to XtremeXF as an expansion of the storage it supports. In future.. It will be fully automated storage technology. Tubr fast policies n their side and optimize data horizontally across the storage arrays. Imagine storage tiering and data migration in one place, and extend to the backup device and hey the cloud…

- Brian also introduced (tongue & cheek) the VFrig which was a VMAX with a refrigerator in it. They are raffling off to one lucky receiptient.

- Today people are moving storage to compute, how about comiute to storage?? Low latecny systems, DB ops, analytics, should be running in the storage device. Using VMWare, Brian showed a demo of R&D work showing vmax with vplex running inside,

- Announces the release id Project Bourne and Software Defined Storage

-interesting, showed all the product placement of VMAX in the movies, fun little video. Called out and remediated problematic Dell servers

Ok that’s it have to run to the next meeting

-

ViPR “Magic Venom” for Virtualized Storage


At EMC World, one expects to hear a series of announcements that impact the way IT is stored, mined, migrated, managed and protected. This year will be no different, there are several “new economy” architectures and models that we’ll all get to know a little better this week. One such announcement is “ViPR” Software Designed Storage.

Ok let’s stop for a second and appreciate after years of V-names from EMC, they have finally dialed in a name as Chill as ViPR…what what! I’m loving that augmentation alone.

So many of us have been waiting for EMC to properly enter into the SDS market and push an OpenStack integration through their mfg plant doors. I believe ViPR will be adequately received by the market and will have a health adoption curve. Some will say it’s a little late to market, but I believe when the critics get an understanding of the functionality included in ViPR’s first release, they will be impressed in what will be the market’s most aggressive entrant to date. Additionally, you have to think about just how much VMware activity is going on in the EMC install base, there is a huge demand for this type of management/facilitation product.

IDC in their recent “Digital Universe Study”, Dec 2012 talked about the paradox that data management product costs continue to notable drop, but the total investment continues to go precipitously up. They go on to state that from 2012 to 2020 servers will grow by 10x, data will grow by 14x, but IT professionals will grow by less than 1.5x. Optimizing Virtualization, Cloud, ITaaS are mandates to frankly…survive.

I want you to go by the booth or get on the web to get the complete juice on ViPR, but let me give you a few key data points. First ViPR leverages the intelligence of the underlying arrays, it doesn’t create a “not invented here” dynamic, but builds upon your current investments. The control path and data path are decoupled so you have more flexibility to architect and not impact performance. One nice feature is the data services strength with built-in ability to write once and then run the data everywhere. Its also a cloud app, has support for heterogeneous storage devices, and built in API to allow growth and tailoring.

ViPR Controller sits on storage arrays and connects to ViPR Data Services across File Block, Object and products like Hadoop(HDFS) Atmos, VMAX ,VNX, Netapp “file” day one; plus devices and commodity hardware slated for future releases. The Controller provides capabilities for automation, self-servce, metering and provisioning. Also a number of 3rd party providers have stepped forward to integrate.

In summary, ViPR abstracts the management of the storage from the hardware. It dramatically reduces management costs in an increasingly complex environment, provides faster time to value, extends and protects existing investments and ultimately delivers more choice on how and where to store data. This is a monster step in the right direction. I think one bite from ViPR and you’ll be a fan.

SHOW MADNESS! SAP Week, EMC World, Sapphire


NOTE TO WORLD: I am hiring, rockstars only. Operative in the App/Big Data space?  Ping me…

Well it is that time again. That time where the best part of 6 weeks is eaten up by planning and attending two major shows: EMC World and Sapphire.  That’s right, next week I am all week in Las Vegas, red eye back to mow the grass and then off to Orlando to sweat out the humidity.

SAP WEEK
Before I go there I have to tell you what made it really crazy! Last week we decided to hold SAP Week in Boston & Cork Ireland. Our SAP Weeks are held in our global executive briefing centers (EBC) at EMC. My team and the EBC have co-sponsored them for years, but SAP has become such a popular topic our events have had to limit attendance to meet fir

IMG_3289

e codes.  In Boston alone we had more than 200 customers come through. We broke attendance records and it was a great success. Thanks to our partners SAP, VMW, Cisco and VCE for making it happen. I also want to thank the System Integrators and Services Providers like Secure24, Deloitte, Wipro, E&Y & FIT who spoke or otherwise participated.  Here are some of the videos from the event provide by Dave Vellante, SiliconAngle TV, & “The Cube” (you guys rock).  Also Thanks to the EMC, VCE, and SAP execs that supported the event: Frank Hauck, John Hanlon, Terry Breen, Chad Sakac, Scott Millard, and Kevin Chew.

IMG_3283

Big topics:  Cloud & HANA.  First Virtualization, everyone is virtualizing SAP. We talked about private clouds, hybrid clouds, public clouds, cloud management, LVM, migrations from Unix to X86, migrations from Physical to Virtual, the whole gamut of options to consider. Including one customer who’s looking to put their entire SAP deployment in an off premise private cloud. BTW, EMC has a whole list of Velocity Partners who provide hosting, cloud and “_aaS” offerings for SAP. The real difference in the conversations today from say 3 years ago is that there are tons of customers who have virtualized in various ways, so the discussion is not about if, but how…simple.

sap team bston

The second most popular topic was HANA, and this wasn’t a use case discussion per say, the driving question was, I have developed a use for HANA in my business and need to go to production with it, how do I do that?  Many of these customers had done their sandboxes with other competing products, even with website  who sell tennis shoes, but many weren’t comfortable continuing with those decisions into production and wanted to hear EMC’s recommendations on Data Center Ready HANA, and we told them.

EMC WORLD

OK SAP Week alone was enough to fill up my Q2 with extra-curricular activity, no so fast.  I now head off to EMC World next week. OMG it is packed. I have seen some of the pre-release info and man its going to be a big show. Also a lot has changed since last year. Goulden has come in to run the show, Gelsinger has left to run VMW, Maritz returned for a short stint before going off to run the company called Pivotal.   We also have a new CIO since our last event. I am sure these changes will impact EMC World and the discussions held within.  Additionally we have apps galore; there is wall-to-wall content on Big Data, SAP, Oracle, Microsoft, etc.   I will be submitting comments via Twitter and this blog as we go through EMC World to share with you the announcements and 1 on 1 conversations I have.  I swear every year I will be diligent, let’s see if I keep my promise.

SAPPHIRE

Ok most sane people would stop, get some rest and plan their beach trip, but not me and my weary team, we pack up for Orlando and do it all again at one of my Favorite shows: SAPPHIRE.   If you haven’t been your missing something, the world’s GDP  flows through the hallways that week. As big as it is, it’s a small world. Like the person you consistently see in the Chicago airport as you both connect for a flight… I see all my friends across the SAP eco-system, I celebrate with some about our joint GTM success and with some we reconnect and ask the question if this is the year we will get serious about partnering together. It’s a dance of sorts… that makes the commercial world revolve.  EMC has some announcements coming, but better we have customers peppered throughout the event who are speaking of every stage about their successes and we, in some way, played a part in their success.  Again week 2, I will leverage social media to share some of the tidbits I learn

(Twitter: ASitison)

Boston: New History in a Historic City


One of the joys while working at EMC has been the ability to be a frequent traveler to one of the world’s most characteristic cities, the city of Boston. I find history colors a space, makes it interesting. I love that the “old” still stands by the “new” and you can touch brick, iron, and stone that our founding fathers possibly once placed a hand against. This is truly a special city which extends beyond its architecture into a cacophony of sounds full of dialects, horns and cracks of the bat. As we all know, sometimes history finds you; and yesterday a little more history joined the annuals of this old city.

We do not yet know the dementia that created this new tragedy, though we can “what if” our way oblivion. We do know that people have suffered, they need our thoughts for many have had their lives changed in a single moment. We do know what are the values of both Boston and the Boston Marathon. A real “running city” that has a strong culture of healthy living and in a special way, celebrates humanity in many forms.

We also know fear. Our northeast cities have had their unfair share of attacks as of late. This can create fear in all forms, and drive us all to steal from ourselves, our joys; like being part of a historic race on a sunny spring day. Net-Net, the perpetrators win when we choose to lock away our spontaneity, our happiness, our sense of peace. Though I am not saying, we can not prepare, this event was inundated with police, firemen, emergency workers, doctors, bomb sniffing dogs, blockades, etc. The solution can’t be a higher fence or a longer wait in a security line, terrorism of all kinds has to loose its effect of changing us. We need to be unified not in fear, but in the brilliance that is us. Ask any marathoner, most of the effort is mental. Its a minute by minute challenge, and achievement goes to those who harness the mental resolve to endure.

Though I am only a visitor to this great city, as one of your supporters, I urge you to build upon that which some would tear down. Continue to celebrate your unique experience. Continue to work to layer history in the form you want it created. And just like the Boston Marathon, you will continue to the retain global veneration through your accomplishments.

The comments of this blog are solely my own and not those of my employers or my associations.

SAP Week, “#PureMagic” in Silicon Valley


(…and a little bit about EMC’s April Events)IMG_3087

Unlike the rest of the snow-covered country, last week was mild in Silicon Valley. The cherry blossoms were blooming and the afternoon air’s mild nip seemed like a minor hindrance compared to the east coast winter I left. I will say it was the perfect setting for a getaway of sorts. A gathering of common minds around one big topic: SAP.

Last week around 150 people gathered at EMC’s Executive Briefing Center (EBC) for a full week of SAP Topics. EMC has long held solution-oriented workshops and executive briefings, but what we call “SAP Week” stands in a special category.  A handful of years back, primarily because of the convergence of SAP experts in and around the Silicon Valley corridor, we started taking over the normally refined and sophisticated EBC facility with a bunch of surly types who came in all flavors of SAP. The EBC was happy to do it, matter of fact they were, in part, the instigators. I remember the first year’s hot topic was showing the lab and demos of SAP running virtualized on VMware. Now there are thousands of customers who have taken that plunge. I am comfortable in saying that, that original SAP week was a key player in the early days of virtualizing SAP. Each year, new milestones have come along and the customers come from new locations around the globe. This year we had an international audience from Latin America, EMEA and APJ, along with the continental US and Canada.

IMG_3035

The event has grown in popularity and what were a few EMC and VMware resources running around between customer whiteboard chats has grown into something quite more significant. Here are some stats: over 30 unique customers hosted, with over 10 partners ranging from product vendors to system integrators and service providers. SAP supported the event providing experts across categories and some reps came in with their customers. The place was filled with household names, customer and partner alike. All in all, the event ran for 4 days averaging about 30-40 people in the mix each day.

Of course you can go to SAPPHIRE and see the same list of companies, go by the booths and attend the 15 min conference meet-ups, but what is magical about this is that the pressure is off.  SAP Week, We tell the customer, “Here’s a room for the day, want to talk to EMC or SAP? Want to have Cisco join in?  How about Deloitte?”  The customer can blend their experience by picking and choosing experts in combinations. It reminds me of summer camp. By end of the week, you’re not the kid from Jersey and I’m not the kid from North Carolina, we’re all “Cabin No. 23”.

IMG_3034The stories, hors d’oeuvres, and a few shared glasses of wine at dinner…everyone becomes part of the shared experience that’s just a little bigger than the piece parts.  Here are some of the things we learned this time around:

1) We focused on the trends, problems and solutions, not products. You can get feature/function from a website but times like these it’s about reality. What have you experienced?  Where was your biggest problem during the rollout? Hey I’ve always wondered about…. Etc. It’s about the stuff you can’t read about.

2) Our speaker recommendations are: “dialog, don’t present”. Half of the experts who ran sessions didn’t use presentations. Some white boarded, some just talked about their business and their experiences. Ever see a person with 10-20 yrs experience present a standard deck? Boring! Instead tell me about your business, what you care about, what you are hearing about in the SAP info-sphere. This makes it uniquely interesting.

IMG_3043

3) Cloud story is not changing but the demographics are.  x86 is continuing to knock down the “big iron” blockades to change. I used to consider it a win if a customer converted to x86/VMware based Vblock solution over several months of due diligence. Last week I saw 3 different customers mentally flip to a converged strategy in the course of a couple of meetings.  Why, the freaking results are outstanding! It’s hard to deny the real-life “wins” customers have had with the platform.

Additionally almost every conversation had a level of off-prem, on-prem, public cloud, or private cloud component. In reality, every customer is looking at having a little bit of every strategy. Whether it is hosting a Test/Dev environment on Secure24 (a SAP cloud provider who attended) or considering Ariba for procurement, it was like blood in the veins, it’s inherent in every conversation.

That leads to one of the newest and most active discussions, which was systems management tools for the cloud. I heard every flavor, vCloud Suite, UIM, LVM, Citirix. Not to cop out on trending, but I seemed to hear a different plan with every customer. There’s a tendency to buy cloud products that complement existing systems management expenditures. On a related topic, many customers who now change out from UNIX to x86 now have to reconsider HA clustering, some DR changes, these items are all the reality of “going to the cloud”. It’s messy when you make clouds…

IMG_3078

4) HANA is happening. It’s not like it was the only topic at the event. It wasn’t, I wouldn’t even say it was the hottest topic at the event, but HANA is alive in the seeds of planning within our customer base. First let me say, the customers in attendance spanned from big industrials, to retail, to mid market players. So many of them aren’t traditionally early adopters. They don’t “go” the first 2 years on the average innovation wave. It’s usually what I would call a pragmatic group, squarely in the mass-adoption segment of the bell-curve. With that said, I can easily say HANA was in almost all customer’s planning efforts, some with sandboxes, some who were rolling out initial use cases, some who want to buy it as a service through a multi-tenancy offering. Many said why couldn’t I run this on my existing standards?   Unlike what we see in the initial phase of HANA go-to-market, I predict adoption will be like wildflowers in the field and not like a formal Italian garden. It will propagate and multiply in all sorts of variations and placements. Customers want to have a say in their architecture decisions, their leverage of cloud, and when to leverage appliances. The old and new generation of the SAP landscape will not be as black and white as the chalkboard it is drawn on. That…is ok! EMC has a long-standing belief that innovation happens in the field. Customers are an equal player in this IT experience. Bottom-line, I think these types of conversations tell me HANA adoption is advancing.  When you start to enable the pragmatic, you go beyond the hype phase and head into a more productive period.

IMG_3039

5) One of my favorite conversations is with other partners about how we can take our value and their value, invest together and create improved offerings for our customers. I was fortunate enough to host several of our partners for business discussions aroun 2013 planning. I walked away with several opportunities, that if I could only hire another 100 people, we’d be able to complete them all by Q3.  Last year my team focused on about 11 partners developing joint assets and developing the building blocks that make our customer’s experience that much more valuable.  During our user group session over lunch, we had a partner speak about a customer for whom they were able to reduce their project deployment timeline significantly, thus reducing their time to value. The customer’s CIO had quoted that the project was flawless, almost boring even though it had challenging goals. This was in part attributed to the pre-work done to help the partner have the appropriate assets and training on that technology so they could out perform expectation. I have a new saying “Speed is a perception, founded on preparation”. I ask my team to develop solutions to reduce complexity, risk, and time to value, and improve value of the overall solution. I used to “pitch” for a living, but I find it more impactful to engage in the problem-solving process. If I’m helpful, build trust over time and offer great products, you’ll find they sell themselves. We’re trying to spend more of our time in these productive efforts.

So you missed the cherry blossoms and the Santana Row Sushi? That’s ok, there are more events coming.

In early April we will be running a series of SAP events across APJ where we’ll offer similar amenities.

And… the week of April 23 we are hosting a global event;  both our Boston, Ma and our Cork Ireland EBCs will be hosting a simultaneous  “Across the Pond” SAP Week.

So you like Sushi, Lobster or Guinness?  Great, pick your spot!  For more information hit my Twitter account @ASitison