Can I take Mission Critical Apps to the Cloud? – THE GOLDEN 7 CONSIDERATIONS


I have been in Minneapolis since Monday to participate in #SAPWeek.  #SAPWeek is a unique experience where EMC brings in their customers, partners and experts, from all over the globe, into a concentrated deep dive whiteboard jam session for a few days. I was at the first in Santa Clara in 2007 and have been attending many each year since. There are very few things that are as consistently more rewarding as exploring the future of enterprise landscapes that run SAP, and that is #SAPWeek.

Right now, customers are re-platforming in droves. Here in the mid-west the topics of interest ranged from “Is it time to go to X86/Virtualization”, to “what is HANA TDI” (and I should I use it), to “is the cloud real for mission critical”.

The quick answer to whether you should roll out HANA with an appliance or TDI is: TDI. You are going to save 20-30% or more of OPX getting off the appliance model. If someone   is advising you otherwise, get new advisers.  Check out my blog on “the HANA Puzzle” for more on that story.

As for the cloud, many customers were…well… shocked here in the heartland that “cloud” is a feasible option for mission critical apps like SAP HANA. I am hear to tell you it is. There are many VERY LARGE companies aggressively adopting the cloud for SAP Traditional and HANA. Since our alignment with Virtustream in 2014 our field teams are very active responding to this market migration.  (If you are not familiar with Virtustream,  here’s a good level set video for you)

During the discussions this week. I referred to a slide I built with Christoph Streubert to help our customers navigate the questions as to whether they can get to the cloud. My laptop was not booting and I promised to post this via a blog. (Commitment DONE)

Golden7 for Cloud

I think the average IT org can take this list and build out a tailored profile/gap analysis to begin to determine the big questions of the cloud:

  • What – What workloads will I move to the cloud (or what environments in my landscape)
  • When – When does it make sense based on my cost and risk profile
  • Why Not – What about my environment hinders me from sending workloads to the cloud.  Make sure you socialize this item.  I am finding these “sacred relics” of the past are actually breaking down as your cross the lines of business. Cloud is compelling.
  • Who – Not all clouds are the same. Make sure your cloud partners are offering:
    • You performance requirements/guarantees
    • You long-term operational costs with significant reductions.
    • Risk monitoring and management

As you dive in to the “Golden 7” considerations, feel free to reach out for an interactive discussion on how to fill out your version of this story

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Solving the HANA Puzzle: Optimized Infrastructure Choices


I was recently meeting with SAP customers while traveling through Singapore and Bangkok. What I found on these travels was a growing market with unique challenges, and some brilliantly spicy food. I also found a customer base dealing with the same global questions of “HANA” and “Cloud”. It’s a statement of fact that IT must evolve by reducing the on-going cost equation, and replatform to faster, more flexible architectures in order to keep pace with the Line of Business (LOB). One of my old mentors from the 90’s had a tag line: “Speed Kills”. The sensibility of this statement has only become more relevant over the last 20 years.

Yes, HANA and Cloud are the two levers of change in the SAP customer base, and I find a constituency that is focused on getting this right. IT budgets aren’t what they were in the 90’s, and they are dealing with the major realities of running mature global IT operations. I interpret their collective position as one trying to solve a challenging puzzle.

As I prepared to present last week, I wanted to engage the audience. While waiting for my turn to speak, I came up with the “HANA Puzzle” concept below. The “HANA Puzzle” went over pretty well with the audience and I think it’s relevant for the broader SAP community, so I wanted to share it with you. Here’s a quick step through of my Whiteboard talk.

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“Can you solve it?” I asked the audience. They trained their eyes on the seemingly arbitrary list of letters, yet found no hidden key. So, I began to explain to them, the HANA puzzle.

The first letter is “A”, that stands for…

APPLIANCE – When HANA was first released, SAP limited infrastructure variability by requiring every deployment of HANA to be installed on a certified appliance. This ensured HANA had the appropriate compute horsepower required to run, and it simplified the deployment process for the customer. Even today there are many customers who are inclined to consider an appliance model for their deployment of HANA because of its initial simplicity. In reality, the appliance model was a contemporary of early HANA when limits were welcomed, but it loses favor for mature deployments. Today where HANA deployments moving into their second, third, fourth step of evolution, TDI has become the model of choice.

TAILORED DATA CENTER INTEGRATION (TDI) – TDI is the ability to install HANA on top of a customer’s IT landscape through a self-certification process. There are still some requirements for component validation, but the effect is a significant savings in overall TCO. I recommend this paper by Antonio Freitas on the mainstreaming of TDI for a full review of TDI’s impact.

Why is TDI a better solution for TCO? Simple, IT operations have been refined for multiple decades to optimize on a horizontal model. Key optimization techniques like capacity planning and load balancing are a function of the maximization of shared resources. Most customers have found that they can run HANA successfully within their existing landscape, or optimize their infrastructure with new tech that maximizes across multiple axes, not just their HANA deployment. As important as cost, this additionally provides the maximum flexibility for operations. Finally, using IT standards leverages the company’s existing skill sets.

All of these are key optimizations that TDI enables, but probably the most singularly important optimization TDI supports is our “V” in the puzzle. Here is a blog by SAP’s Bill Zang covering the impact of TDI and virtualization on the cost of systems operations.

VIRTUALIZATION – OK I am guessing a few of you figured out the “V” in the puzzle was virtualization, because virtualization’s power to optimize is well known. If you are curious how that specifically impacts HANA, here’s a quick read on the basics of Vsphere 5.5 support specific for HANA. I am comfortable in saying that, today, virtualizing non-production HANA is common practice. The savings created through standing up and shutting down Virtualized HANA development environments and the improved model for HA and DR alone justify including HANA in your non-production environments. However, some companies have ventured even further, using virtualization in production. Watch Bill Reid talk about his deployment of virtualized HANA in production for EMC IT.

Well the puzzle is in the process of being solved, can you guess was “P” is for?

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PRIVATE CLOUD – It’s a short, but steep leap from Virtualization to private cloud. Private cloud adds in the next level of application/DevOps functionality to the stack, which further abstracts and automates HANA away from the physical data center and into the cloud. Private cloud does this while the providing the most cloud protection via hard-walled environments. There are many ways to deploy HANA on private cloud including the market leading solution from Virtustream called xStream Cloud Management software. This solution granularizes the environment into small compute chunks and optimizes the layout to minimize the HANA workload’s footprint. Then xStream routinely monitors usage of each unit of compute. The system will further automate the starting and stopping on SAP environments, minimalizing the amount of human interaction needed for HANA landscape operations. This is useful, for customers who deploy “on-premise” and “off-premise”.

ON/OFF PREMISE – Let’s continue the conversation on xStream to apply its optimization to an off-premise environment. If you have contracted Virtustream for managed services or are using xStream sfw for hosted private cloud, then the products ability to turn off and on small compute units called “MicroVMs” translates into significant savings. By monitoring whether a MicroVM is on or off every 5 mins, Virtustream minimizes their charges to actual consumption, only charging for compute units that are “on”. Add in the automated starting and stopping of SAP workloads, and a hosted private cloud can translate to 20, 30, 50% or more savings over your existing deployment.

SAP sees private cloud as a key catalyst to the success of HANA. SAP created a specification for private cloud called HANA Enterprise Cloud (HEC) which they provide through a small certified list of providers (including EMC/Virtustream).

Can you guess the “H” yet?

Slide4

HYBRID CLOUD – Now we’re getting serious. Hybrid cloud is the next frontier of HANA and SAP computing. Only the most advanced SAP companies have begun to venture into the future of a hybrid cloud model. There is some ambiguity in the market as to what defines a hybrid cloud. Is a customer who has Success Factors SAAS and a hosted private cloud for HANA, a hybrid cloud? Well yes, probably; and by this definition hybrid is somewhat mainstreamed. However, when I mention an elite group of customers heading to the future… well I’m talking about more advanced functionality. I am referring to the ability to create elasticity by bursting workloads from on premise to off or from one cloud location to another. This is the promise of a huge step in further optimization, but there are natural roadblocks to hinder progress. “How big is your data?” or “HANA is an in-memory platform” are two great examples. So today you can not slice off an intra-workload within HANA and seamlessly float it to the cloud. However, think of needs for elasticity in development, system migration, HA, or DR? Hybrid functionality can be really impactful to operations of global businesses.

Let me tell you about one personal experience. Again I am going to use xStream Cloud Management software as an example. I recently worked with resources from Virtustream, EMC and VCE to test out a bundled solution putting xStream on a Vblock. The objective was to allow customers run the cloud optimizing software within their data centers and operationally communicate with other xStream-based clouds. We put this solution through the paces. There were several scenarios like “cloud site failure”, and “system migration between sites” that were proved out. In our first few phases of testing we have had amazing results. Check out this solution brief for more information.

PUBLIC CLOUD – The final “P” is for public cloud. For mission critical systems, public cloud is less impactful than its sister cloud derivations, yet it can’t be overlooked when SAP customers are looking at overall optimization. Public cloud can provide a variety of offerings from SAAS offerings like SuccessFactors, to small online HANA development environments, to offloading a company’s traditional landscape or as a tool for addressing big data requirements. Here’s a story from about BlueFin’s leverage of public clouds for their SAP landscape. As companies plan their replatforming efforts they should consider public cloud as a tool to round out their overall strategy.

Well… We’ve solved the “HANA Puzzle”.

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I called it the “HANA Puzzle” because for many companies its not a question of why HANA, they know that HANA is the future; yet the “how” and “what” can be confusing because of the amount of evolution we’ve experienced in the last few years. I hope you see an “answer” in my solution to this puzzle. Everyone has to define their own journey, but there is tangible precedence in the market on what decisions will maximize both your operational flexibility and TCO.

Delelet

For current and future EMC customers, I want to point out; EMC Federation (including EMC, Virtustream, and VMWare) provides the market with the hardware, software and services to address each and every iteration and derivative of HANA you may choose, across the entire “puzzle”.

I hope this helps you solve your own path for HANA. Please feel free to share your story or ask for details on any of this as needed.

(As for the hot and spicy food… a few of my favorites were Rendang, Laksa and this spicy bamboo salad in Bangkok… Man, it doesn’t taste the same in the States… Loved it.)

What is Authentic Change?


   (and What’s happening at EMC World…)

Global business is in a mega shift as their business lines envelope the global, mobile consumer with data rich offerings; as their operations eagerly vet out cloud as a platform for agility while hoping it delivers a better cost model for IT. We’re in a waiting game of sorts as companies test this out.

SAP, as the current reigning champion of global business apps, is in the middle of this conversation in a large number of the companies who are working to evolve.

We believe the end game for now is to convert IT from its old data center centric roots into a broker of IT services, with the CIO at the helm. Even today large companies often have an “Energy Broker” function where they bid out their energy requirements for the company. Similarly IT will be provide the best value/risk ratio to the business by implementing a brokerage model for IT.

Imagine: A “Line of Business” resource wants to kick off an SAP HANA project with a partner. They go into the services catalog, select an SAP HANA development environment, determine what they’re willing to pay, what risk they’re willing to take, what level of performance, and what geo they want the development environment. Moments later, they have their environment. The brilliance is not only that they could do that, but also that IT would have orchestrated these options with potentially several different provider companies or with their own IT staff. This allows companies to define profile-based services and keep the offerings competitive. It makes it a buyer’s market and that makes IT a hero to the business. Here’s a little video I had my team put together to highlight this concept. Worth a quick view.

SAP REDEFINED

So if you buy my idea of a service broker model for IT, let me provide you a handful of recommended next steps you can take to jump right into your own journey to “HERO”:

1) VIRTUALIZE – You have to virtualize. 100% Virtualized environments provide the kick off to a Software Defined IT environment and your services broker model. If you take a Ford F-250 an inch off the ground, there’s a good chance you could move it, if any part of it is touching the ground, there’s an equal chance you won’t be able to. You have to get your apps, data, platform, VMs, all off the ground. You have to virtualize. Here’s a story from Columbia Sportswear about their Virtualization of SAP a few years back and the pay-offs it provided.

Columbia copy

 

2) COLLABORATE – Don’t go at it alone and don’t get your knowledge from one book. There are many in similar kayaks in the river with you. Chat it up with your social network. (Get a social network…) Running the rapids is more fun if you know where the rocks are.

At EMC we saw the need to bring our customers, partners, SAP and our experts together to evolve the dialog one whiteboard at a time. For years we have been holding “SAP Weeks” across the globe. They are so popular, we often meet fire code limits in our facilities. Here’s a link to @EMCSAP Travel guide if you’d like to engage with in an upcoming event.

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3) TRUST EXPERTS – At this time of great change do some due diligence on who’s “Talking” about change and who’s actually “Walking” through change. Find those who are the next great leaders based on where they spend their money and where they leave their sweat. EMC as a major IT company deserves a modicum of respect and interest for their place in this change. However, not everyone knows that 3 years ago this company of 50,000 or so people completely pulled out of Oracle eBiz and replaced their global business app with SAP. Impressed? What if I said they did that and implemented ITaaS at the same time? Really Impressed? Ok, well what if I said they also Virtualized the entire footprint while they rolled it out and implemented a broker model for application connectivity? Super impressive I believe. The IT org has been on a wild ride of advancement and optimization ever since.

They recently have been one of the first companies making major investments in “Virtualized HANA” aka running SAP HANA on VMware. They will be presenting much of this at next week’s EMC World (Las Vegas May 5-8). If you can’t make it here’s some information about their efforts (Blog & Whitepaper below)

 

BLOG…

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WHITEPAPER…

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4) COME TO EMC WORLD – Next week at the Venetian in Las Vegas is going to be a blow out show. Cloud and Big Data will be center stage all week and SAP will be an important point of conversation.  SAP is a Platinum Sponsor this year at EMC World. There will be Global SI and SP partners, customers from all over the world. Keep your ears out for announcements, as there may just be something that peaks your interest.

Here are just a few of the things Attendees will see:

  • Keep your ear tuned to Joe Tucci’s, Chairman keynote.
  • Pat Gelsinger, CEO of VMware’s Keynote will talk about their solutions related to SAP.
  • Follow the action on #EMCWorld and @EMCSAP
  • Whiteboards and technical presentations at the SAP kiosk in the EMC Solutions Pavilion
  • SAP LVM in the Hands on Lab
  • Meet the SAP Mentors & EMC Elect at EMC World
  • Live demos in the “Build-A-Cloud LIVE!” area in the Solutions Pavilion that includes automated SAP Provisioning
  • Get Social around SAP Topics  Tuesday 4:30 PST https://www.crowdchat.net/emcworld 

SAP related Breakout sessions:

  • REDEFINE IT for SAP Cloud and Big Data
  • Virtualized HANA demo in the SAP kiosk in the Solution Pavilio
  • EMC and virtualized HANA presentation @Mini Theatre at Vmware booth on Tuesday
  • VMAX & SAP HANA: Tailored Datacenter Integration with the VMAX Family
  • EMC IT Business Transformation: Running SAP & SAP HANA on vSphere
  • VPLEX: Continuous Availability for All Business Critical Applications  like SAP
  • Application & Database Migrations with Zero Downtime Using EMC VNXTransforming Your SAP Landscape Using VNX & Isilon

 

Let’s continue the conversation!

@Asitison – Send me a Tweet for a meet up at EMC World, Sapphire, or just to continue the dialog over social.

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.

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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.

SAPPHIRE NOW Madrid: and the Hat-trick of Business Transformation


Last week I spent an inspiring and almost sleepless week in Madrid for Sapphire NOW. The labor strike did not mute our collective efforts to align and plot our joint work within the SAP EMEA Marketplace. As expected, everyone was there. Monday Afternoon before show startsThere were over 10,000 in attendance and many more connecting in via the web. From the “world of SAP” perspective, the concrete is still drying on the major changes that have been announced during the last few SAP events, so as expected, this was not a year of shocking new announcements, but more the foundational establishment of these ideas as they begin to be realized. I went to the show to understand if Americas and EMEA have different optics on SAP’s direction and if either showed a glimmer of a leadership position on advancing the “next gen” of SAP. (more on this later…) bueno no?

 To accomplish this task, I had to talk with many customers, friends and SAP smart-guys alike. It started with a customer dinner sponsored by EMC, VMW, Cisco & Intel at the Casino de Madrid. Monday night 40 or more of us gathered in this grand hall for an friendly start of the week. An opening of sorts on the ideas we would continue to discuss throughout the coming days. What a brilliant location to do this. (Happy Birthday @Sylvie75015 & Parmeet!) 

To move forward in this one way discussion, let me first state my position on what is changing business today. I have heard no better summarization nor have I found any outliers to my assessment of where the business dollar is spent today to transform. I like my version, which I’ll share with you now. So… consider yourself lucky to get this brilliance straight from the Donkey’s mouth. 😉  Today there are 3 things that are driving spend. A hat-trick of trends that are not only singularly important, but together they make an inertial jolt that cracks the patina off everything status quo.

Primary Business Dollar Spend Today:

–          Application Modernization (I include cloud/virtualization here)

–          Business Analytics

–          Global Mobile User

These three trends are driving the majority of focus and together they literally change the industrialized world from back office to storefront.  If you’re hardware and processes can float in a cloud, while your self-service global user uses “choose your own” mobile devices to interact with your business which is smarter about core competencies because of the better use of the data you own, you can see how optimization in cost, revenue, share of wallet, distribution, commerce, inventory, etc… all change.  Who’s the looser in this new world order?  Those who use 1990’s binoculars to view 2020 business models and those who frankly aren’t creative or open enough to engage their customer and eco-system in a transformative process.  Ok we are susceptible to DotCom-itis here. However, we’re not talking about ill-thought shallow commerce tools (I hope…). If you don’t see the opportunity for business model change, you may find yourself working for the person who did.

So to me, the strategy is to build the disciplines and open up the frontal lobe a bit.  Just as we have had massive specialization over the last few decades. I believe we will continue to see companies become more inter-dependant; “nodes” on an inter-linked mesh of business process and market options. We can’t make products and then sell them. We will need to be more collaborative across the process from idea to inventory to satisfaction and support. We reduce blockages between the expert and the consumer, our job is to hook our competence to the plumbing of “demand”. This requires much higher levels of trust, confidence and interactions between the platform creators, market innovators and the change agents that make it happen.

I bring all this up because I believe the SAP eco-system is the best staged in the industry to begin this journey.  First SAP has the three jeweled crown to make the most of the Hat-trick.  This includes their invigorated platform with key cloud offerings through the eco-system (aka CSC, AWS, SunGard, etc.). They have HANA/ASE to transform analytics, plus the database layer of the stack, and they have the Afaria mobility platform to engage the mobile user. Not that they haven’t done a good job creating the product suite, but the mastery is in how they changed the dialog. The last few Sapphires have focused on everything from jacked-up iPads running the front-end of SAP, to social stories about small business incubators who leverage SAP, analytics and mobile to reach places that don’t always have consistent power, much less german engineered business systems.  The keynotes predict the change and demonstrate the initial flicker of opportunity that awaits.                                                                                   Jim Snabe in his keynote, addressed the changing model of distribution. Smartly he used the analogy of  the music industry which transformed from LP albums to iTunes over a 20 year span. He took the audience through how these changes were not always comfortable and in some cases left some folks standing by the roadside, while giving birth to new innovators like Apple. Through this example he showed “tech” companies can be “business” companies as well.  From this clear example, he took the collection of us through other industries like fashion and financial services and showed how these same patterns are appearing across industries. Reduced formalized/packaged distribution, increased consumer involvement in the design and fulfillment process. He implied how output becomes less of a  structured assembly-line product and more of an interactive “result” (consider Gone with the Wind vs Call of Duty; or Catcher in the Rye hardcover v/s Rye Whiskey Wikipedia entry…).

I also heard a common message from what I call the change agents, the Deloittes, Accentures, or Bluefins of the world. Whether large or small most are working on speeding business process change while looking at a massive customer base who’s running SAP like they did in the 1990’s. There is a treasure box of services waiting for those who can help companies apply cloud, analytics and mobile in new ways to speed their time to value, reduce costs/risks, while they enjoy performance improvements in the new world order.  Good news, the platform technologies help like they never did before.  If you haven’t had the opportunity to hear Sanjay Mirchandani speak on the transformation of IT at EMC (including a global deployment of SAP), you are missing one of the best examples of the future in the market today. Sanjay can talk for hours about ITaaS, choice driven mobility integration, and what you realize in this message, you can’t even begin until the landscape is 100% virtualized.  His choice tool for this were “Vblocks“. The improvements he has driven in responsiveness, cost reductions and ultimately…agility are profound.  If you look at the technologies he used in the plan (VCE, VMW, EMC, Cisco, SAP, Spring Source, etc.) the needed combination of innovations have only been together for approximately a year.  We are on the cusp of great change.  As for change agents, Sanjay’s team used experts from the eco-system like Accenture to help get it right and apply tribal knowledge. These changes I speak of requires the piece parts to come together to make change happen.

I stated that there were not many ground breaking announcements, but on Thursday VMware and SAP announced HANA on Vsphere. Today this only supports non-production deployments, but having the ability to virtualize HANA provides a new level of flexibility and improves provisioning during the sandbox period, helping accelerate HANA adoption. EMC and Cisco were happy to see this alignment push through. Again one more example of convergence between the big drivers of business transformation.

I’ll end by mentioning the SAP Mentors. If you haven’t had the pleasure of spending time with the Mentors, it’s your loss. This is a “band of brothers” who have been honored by inclusion in the Mentor program. You can’t buy your way in, you have to earn it. Membership spans outside of SAP and this group is on the front lines of change. I had the chance to catch up with several mentors at the show and I can tell you that what many of us would call keynote “hipe” is substantiated in the “hands” of these mentors. Customer innovation isn’t an empty demo, these guys are seeing it happen in the field. Some of them relatively young (compared to me) will be the lead guard of what’s to come. They are helping set the new agenda.

Again it was a great trip. I mentioned at the front of this blog that part of my journey was to highlight the similarities and differences between Americas and EMEA. I am shocked to say, I saw little difference. The dialog is global, so as you slip between one geographic theater to another… the wall-paper is quite familiar. Its more about meeting the people involved than drastic differences in strategy. People work with people they like.  In a swirling whirlpool of transition, some things never change. Chao.

VEGAS FORECAST CLOUDY , SAP INSIDER – Feb 28-March 2nd


ImageYou can tell I’m a jet setter, why? Because I am finishing up a winter cold this week that I either got from the team in LA, the folks in Boston, my trip to NYC or from my kids.  Anyway I am on the mends with excessive dosages of germ cleansers and bug killers because next week I am in Vegas for SAP Insider. As far as Vegas goes I can take it or leave it, but SAP Insider has been a staple event for me for several years. I wouldn’t want to miss it. This year they have combined 5 SAP-related, Insider sponsored events into one venue: BI, Cloud & Virtualization, Administration & Infrastructure, MOBILE, & Business Objects Boot camp.

First, let me tell you about how EMC has organized for the event (#EMCSAP). As a gold sponsor, you’re going to see a great deal of EMC around the show. We’ll be spending most of our time talking with customers around Cloud and Big Data solutions we’ve brought to market.

What you’ll find interesting this year is that much of the conversations will include “hindsight” (aka lessons learned). We’ve been busy the last couple of years taking customers into virtualization, and into the hybrid clouds. We now have the luxury of an install base that provides some direction for those who now begin the journey.

This year we’ll have 3 expert speaking sessions that should be full of content about what we’ve learned from working with our customers to reach the cloud.                                               

Date:  2/28

EMC Accelerates the Journey to Your Cloud by Replatforming to an Intel Architecture – 2:45 pm, RM 106   – Abstract:  SAP customers today are evaluating how to move to virtualization confidently and improve daily operational efficiency—while ensuring the highest levels of availability. Discover methodologies and how replatforming to x86 with can accelerate the journey to your cloud and help accelerate SAP deployments.  You will gain practical insight into what you can do today to build a virtualized, dynamic SAP infrastructure for tomorrow’s private cloud computing model.       

Date:  2/29

Reduce Costs and Improve TCO by Virtualizing SAP with EMC & VMware – 10:00 am RM 106 – Abstract:  The business benefit of cloud technologies are appealing; however, virtualizing mission critical applications carries significant risks associated with performance, security, availability and management complexity. In this session, learn how SAP and EMC are partnering to develop secure clouds that are highly scalable and available within the performance requirements of SAP applications. Key topics covered will include: Physical to Virtual computing solutions, backup consolidation with deduplication, and availability and disaster recovery in a virtual environment.  You will gain practical insight into what you can do today to build a virtualized, dynamic SAP infrastructure for tomorrow’s private cloud computing model.

Title:  Case study: EMC IT shares lessons and tips based on its enterprise virtualization initiative – 2:15pm RM 301 – Abstract: Explore EMC IT’s Journey to the Cloud and best practices on how enterprise mission critical applications like SAP are designed and deployed in virtualized datacenters. By referencing EMC’s own large scale SAP ERP global deployment, you will learn about the approach used to integrate 80+ applications into a “Common Integration Cloud”. 

I know this next line sounds like sleazy marketing, but it’s true…Last year our sessions were standing room only, so get there early for a seat. If you get there too early we promise to entertain you with brilliant conversation.  Worst case… if you miss the time slots, you can always tweet me @ASitison and I can hook you up with the presenter or just come by the booth for a handshake and some giveaways (CAN YOU SAY PLASTIC CASH!).

…OK NOW FOR MY MISSION I CHOSE TO ACCEPT…

What I like about the SAP Insider series is traditionally it is the “workers” who show up to learn and to think about new ways to address problems that they have experienced in the last year.  This is “reality” walking the halls by the thousands. This is not where people come to hear about how the next great thing that will change the world in 5 years, it’s where you hear from those who are changing their world today. And, it’s a great place for a guy like me to get a dose of what needs fixing in 2012.  

I’m going to approach the event a little differently this year.  Usually I get consumed by meetings with customers I am currently engaged with. I rarely make it pass the hotel restaurants and the tradeshow floor. This year I am going to carve off some time and take on a new mission. My iphone and I are going on a journey to capture some of the stories about the problems and solutions that everyone is solving and to document a few of the interesting ideas that are readily available in the conversations on the floor.

On my journey, I’m going to try to answer:

1)      How are companies doing and how are they leveraging SAP in their strategy?

2)      What are the major problems being solved today (i.e. cause & symptoms)?

3)      How are they solving them and how are they pacing their roadmaps (i.e. cure & dosage)

4)      What does big data look like to them and how central will SAP products like HANA and BOBJ be to their strategy?

5)      What is their cloud strategy and have they “ventured into the mist…” Do they have personal stories about chargebacks/metering, provisioning, multi-tenancy, etc?

6)      How has globalization changed their plans?

7)      What do they want from their product and integration partners?

8)      Are there trends to be identified in everyone’s collective activities?

I will leverage twitter while I am at SAP Insider (#SAPInsider). If you’re there, please reach out @ASitison and we’ll get one of those extremely weak coffees together. I’d love to hear your story. I will also monitor the social media activity for any valuable content. If you have questions you’d like me to answer while I am there send me something through Twitter and I’ll be your trained monkey. When I get back from the trip, I’ll post a summary of my findings back here on the blog site for your consumption.   Wish me luck, hunt me down (figuratively), and/or come back to see what I found out.

Monkey signing out.

“The CLOUD of the TITANS” – SAP, EMC, and VMware Strengthen their Partnership around Cloud Computing


 In Madrid Spain, on November 10th, Pat Gelsinger, Paul Maritz and Vishal Sikka virtually join together and take the keynote stage at SAPPHIRE NOW Madrid. The three will talk about what is covered in today’s SAP Press Release: “Preferred Three-Way Strategic Collaboration with EMC and VMware to Deliver Greater IT Efficiency and Business Agility

Before we dive into the details of this release, let’s look at these 3 people on stage:

    • Ever heard of Paul Maritz?  He was a key leader during the rise of MS Windows into the ubiquitous desktop and server operating system it is today.  Later he created a company, “PI Corporation” focused on what was then the obscure concept of “Cloud Computing”.  Now he’s the CEO of VMWare
    • How about Pat Gelsinger? He contributed to the Intel 286 and 386 chip design which brought the computer to the masses, and then was the executive over the development of a continuous line of best in class products that made the Intel brand what it is today. Now he is the President/COO of EMC.
    • Vishal Sikka has been the CTO at SAP since 2007, overseeing the rollout out of ECC 6.0, acquisition of Sybase and now the adoption of HANA into the SAP customer base. He sits in the technical top seat for a company with over 120,000 customers.

It’s rare to see 3 people who’ve had more impact in our industry, co-presenting on a stage.  It is probably worth listening to what they have to say.

So, what is being talked about in Madrid?  Here are some of the notable excerpts from the release:

  • “SAP will work closely with EMC and VMware and is currently evaluating options to deliver an end-to-end stack optimized for running mission-critical SAP applications. Together, the three companies plan to invest and integrate best-of-breed application, database, virtualization, management and information infrastructure technologies, as well as deliver new services to support and accelerate customers’ journey to the cloud.”
  • “SAP and VMware expect to deliver an extended support program by integrating a configuration and health check for SAP systems running on VMware cloud infrastructure into SAP® GoingLive™ Check services and SAP EarlyWatch® Alert service…”
  • “SAP also intends to drive a radical improvement in the manageability of enterprise applications in private clouds by evaluating the delivery of VMware vSphere®-based virtual appliances, orchestrated by declarative models in the TOSCA language…”
  • “SAP and EMC will explore collaboration opportunities around the SAP HANA™ platform to deliver high-end system availability and EMC’s fully automated storage tiering technologies (FAST). This deep collaboration will further strengthen SAP in-memory computing technology…”
  • “SAP’s next-generation architecture is truly bringing the power of these disruptive innovations to our customers without disruption. Our work with EMC and VMware demonstrates this.

So why should you take note of these “notes”:

  • My first reason I’ve already pointed out. There is a convergence of pioneers in our industry lining up around these technologies, around these companies.
  • End to End Stack”, that is a powerful statement coming from this group.  Think about the last time EMC and VMWare reported on a triangulation with Cisco.  The company VCE was born and they deliver the “Vblock” which is already having an impact on the SAP install base. SAP, EMC, and VMware together could really change the playing field. Best in class, market share leaders, all in one end to end package.
  • Virtualization Health Check, Application Manageability, these are both improvements that will help the large SAP community further adopt virtualization and private cloud improvements. Allowing even the conservative IT departments to progress on platform modernization.
  • HANA & FAST, This is an interesting announcement between EMC and SAP. EMC is the first non server company to be singled out in this way.  One can assume that this collaboration will lead to best in class model that provides a clean scale out solution for the HANA in-Memory platform, allowing for better controls, availability and information protection.
  • First to Market Fitness, What this messaging really communicates is here are the current innovators for the new generation of SAP landscapes that are driving into the cloud. These 3 companies individually have been the most active in innovation for the support of SAP over the last few years. Customers want to accelerate their consumption of modern platforms that are more agile, and that have better price to performance, yet they feel they must wait for the proper level of maturity to be demonstrated. This collaboration is an accelerant.  If you want to mitigate risks in mission critical environments, what better way, than to bring together this group of titans? A Recent Study Named EMC as the No. 1 choice for Applications. The IDC study showed EMC swept the no. 1 slot including SAP. A similar study by Goldman Sachs showed EMC no. 1 choice to support VMWare environments.  These companies together, have an over whelming level of capital in “Market Trust”.

These press releases tend to come and go. What excites me is the promises made within. Keep your eye on the things to come.

Link to Press Release: http://tiny.cc/gfxbi

X86 Migration, Cloud Computing provide a blank piece of paper to optimize.


How many times in life do you get to really start over?  Where we are you able to take away the bad decisions, let go of the things we’ve outgrown, or throw out the spoiled milk?  In the world of big business the answer is never.  Well, now it’s almost never.

We in the IT industry are at the cusp of a significant, multi-year transformation that will happen to what we today call Information Technology. Starting now and expanding quickly will be volumes of customers migrating to more cost effective, more agile platforms. Or, in specific terms there will be more X86, OS/DB, and Private Cloud migrations in 2012 than we’ve seen before. The dam is cracked and leaking badly. The impending deluge of activity is not far away.  I would reference Noah, but that would be a cliché and this is not a story of impending doom, this is more of a super gnarly zip-line ride through a rainforest canopy. I believe this is going to be a great experience for most. Freeing, inspirational and refocused to move funds back to innovation and away from IT maintenance, a renaissance of sorts.

For the remaining segment of the blog, I’m going to focus on some of the initial thinking everyone should be considering to ensure their transformation is positive and planned.

  • Business Process Change – I could spend some length of time on business process change, frankly I am currently focused on IT transformation and I believe there are fresher opinions available to you.  With that said, I can impart a nugget… that IT Transformation is not completely trapped in the realm of IT.  The changes will provide faster, more performant, more agile systems, with more predictable service levels, that deliver faster time to value. And, they should reduce the “cost to value” ratio. These improvements can be a catalyst for business process improvements. 
  • Technical Change – Here are some related considerations as you begin to look at how the technology will be reworked in your new world order. 
    • First remember, “Don’t pack a bag, you want new clothes”.   Don’t stay too committed to old components of your traditional architecture without validating how those components support your truly innovative agile IT environment of the future. 
    • “Where do you make the Cut?” If you’re carving up your architecture stack, where do you place the scalpel?
      •  Many look to what I call the “hardware/software divide”.  This divide is really a separation between the OS and DB.  Keep the app and database, but change out the OS and support hardware? This is where the majority are drawing the line. But it’s never been more rewarding to “part ways” with the status quo and look at real options for the database.
      • Thus, many are looking to swap out the DB layer as part of the change process. I was on a call with Wipro yesterday about a customer moving from their traditional DB to MS SQL. SQL 2012, formally Denali, is a real player going forward for mission critical application support. Additionally we know that many SAP customers are considering Sybase ASE as way to improve alignment within their SAP landscapes.
    • “Blank Pages” – these changes are disruptive. “Disruptive” translates to lots of white paper to write a new version on.  However, it does require some planning and there are folks who’ve started that effort already for you, the Systems Integrators.  EMC and their technology partners deliver convergent private clouds which is the “plumbing” and the “lumber” for the architecture.   Additionally, there’s been a continued joint effort to develop helpful solutions that span across the technologies. Finally, EMC and these technology partners have joined at the technical hip with the premiere SI’s to help support their mapping of the uncharted territories over the last year. From these efforts customers get advantages to speed and reduce the risks of change. You still want to put some thought to the effort., here are few things to consider when your staring at the blank page.
      • Technical Run Books – You changed your OS, you changed your DB? The commands don’t look the same any more. There will need to be consideration for ITIL and/or other processes in these changes.
      • Configurations – Similar to a fancy performance engine that can turn on and off cylinders to save gas,  the converged infrastructure will have new capabilities in access and compute power. Being able to reduce latency for the most important work loads and reduce cost for the least important.  What’s really great is the configurations are normally faster and cheaper than traditional methods. One example is EMC’s FASTVP, which transfers data content from silicon based flash drives to voluminous SATA drives, based on need.
      • Abstraction– Remember when you used to have to go to the bank and deposit checks, and now you use direct deposit. I went in a bank a couple weeks ago and I felt like I was visiting my childhood…Direct deposit is a form of abstraction. Cloud computing is another.  The abstraction from the physical to a private cloud where service levels and software perform in an independent, logical relationship on top of an converged infrastructure. In this environment, one is not limited to hard metal walls. What does that mean?
        • Always up – You can run active, active and all but remove the need to ever be down.
        • Disaster Recovery – DR can be expressed in minutes and not hours or days.
        • Test Dev in Drivers Seat – Test and development teams can launch parallel paths in minutes removing the need to wait on others to stage.
        • Portability – Need to test a server at a vendor’s lab, or want to put a bolt-on app into the public cloud, or want to allocate dedicated resources to a server for a couple of weeks?  This can all be done in a the private cloud computing environment
      • Understand Control Points.  Remember the first time you ice skated and you used newly found muscles?  With private clouds/cloud computing there are a few technologies racing for the leadership position in cloud management.  I’m not going to promote a specific technology, only to mention this is a consideration that you should include up front.
      • Cloud Security – I don’t believe clouds are inherently less protected than traditional methods, matter of fact I believe the opposite. However, “clouds are connected”.  Connectivity is the both the benefit and bane of clouds.  This is why most are taking mission critical to private clouds first. Why?  You get most of the benefits, you’re staged to leverage public clouds, and you have more control over security
      • Getting it Right with the Partners – Ultimately the heroes of transformative IT, Cloud computing will be the System Integrators (SI’s).  In most instances, they will guide companies through the process, through the transformation.  I recently had the opportunity to review Accenture’s Agile IT program. On top of their world-class experience in IT process optimization, they have specifically spent months industrializing the solution and process assets to allow their thousands upon thousands of customer engaged resources to have prescriptive roadmaps, reference architectures, use cases, and step by step guidance on the journey to transform IT.  Based on my discussions, much of the focus for them will be on helping customer migrate to x86 platforms and on to private clouds. These are rich fields for optimization, and no doubt Accenture will be a big player in this arena

I’ll leave you with the advice to approach private cloud transformation with the right mindset. If you’re reading this it’s fair to assume you are a very accomplished IT professional, possibly an executive and you don’t need a 101 lesson from me on how to execute your job.  However, in a friendly way, I want to challenge you as you approach your IT transformation project:

  • Be disruptive at the top.  If you want change and a strong plan, set the example at the top.
  • Open minded-ness is free. Consider your options; don’t be too quick to dismiss what is emerging. It could be the competitive edge you’ve been looking for.
  • Be immersive, don’t make split decisions. “Opportunity attracts the aggressive.” Make sure you’re investing in partners who are investing, innovative, and customer focused.
  • Look for the “Merger of Many”. Who’s backing whom?  Where have groups come together to make cloud a reality. Where are the early adopters placing their bets. 

Good luck on the journey.

“One Throat to Choke” – Who’s Kidding your Hands Don’t Fit.


Well here I am, back from Oracle OpenWorld and banging out another week of work. OOW for me was 3 days, jam packed full of interactions with our customers, partners, and Oracle.   I found the show to be informative, and I definitely realized how invested EMC’s customers are in the Oracle-EMC solutions.  EMC and Oracle have been in an industry interlock through the last 2 decades together supporting some of the most impactful business processes in the world. As I talked to an endless stream of noteworthy customers, I felt that connection completely.  While there, I also poked around, attended keynotes, and talked to everyone who dared to look at me (a mistake they will not make twice!).

I’d like to tell you about all the insights I took away, but frankly, I can’t keep your interest for that long. So, let me work to edit and organize my thoughts. Today I will work in Vignettes. Why? Because, no one has told me I couldn’t, and I am feeling creative.

Vignette One: “Crazy Mixed Up [Open]World”

The scene opens in a super large room with bright lights and thousands of people, otherwise known as the Keynote hall.  Monday morning, I had the privilege to sit up front with a few of our customers and some serious players from EMC. Monday morning Joe Tucci, CEO of EMC, kicked off the keynotes. After a strong rally of all the great things EMC is doing around the Cloud (web coverage: http://tiny.cc/wuiu9), He introduced Pat Gelsinger who in turn introduced Chad Sakac. Pat and Chad had an entertaining presentation on EMC’s Big Data strategy. Data growth, EMC Greenplum, virtualization, analytics engines; many topics were reviewed in the context of EMC innovations. Pat also held up a new piece of EMC technology, Lightening flash cards . In beta, the Lightening flash cards have a CPU mounted on the blade, and they will provide a reported 320GB of lightening fast flash per card. Chad followed Pat’s lead and began to demo VMware’s integrated VFabric Cloud Application Platform (related coverage: http://tiny.cc/0ec74). This really showed how to take customer analytics requirements down through the software and hardware.  They also showed the card at work as it vaporized performance problems live on stage. The two ended by comparing the hypothetical auto insurance costs between 3 constituents, you may have heard of: Gelsinger, Tucci, and Larry Ellison. Larry’s was the most expensive since it had a jet and racing boat in his fleet of vehicles.  It was a humorous way to end, and a good time was had by all. 

What struck me was that in just a handful of years, how EMC was no longer a storage company, but a bundled solution company, much of what was noteworthy in the presentation was all the software and software integration that has been developed. And, other than the Lightening blade that Pat held up, there was little mention about the hardware.  Following the event, it was my job to take Pat to a meeting with a CIO from one of our customers. In that meeting and throughout the day, you could tell that the keynote message and the energy resonated.

Following the EMC keynote, Oracle took the stage for a couple of hours and presented on Exalytics, SPARC Super Cluster, they also reviewed Exadata and Exalogic updates. By circumstance, they reiterated many of the same functionalities EMC had discussed, but with an Oracle-specific platform to support Oracle apps. In their presentation, Oracle took shots at many of their new infrastructure competitors “23x faster than”, “more gigabit capacity for”, and “2 more DRAM of that”. The dialog continued…

Whether I was bored or in a new enlightened state, there listening to the keynotes it hit me. Like an episode from the “Twilight Zone”, our two companies had switched places. “Freaky Friday”, but it’s only Monday… We were spending our time talking about software and Oracle was spending their time talking about hardware. I wonder how many of the thousands of people listening thought the exact same thing?  It goes to show, as Joe Tucci said, “Cloud is the most disruptive tech wave ever”. The vendors our customers have worked with for years are going through notable changes to provide for a new era of IT technology. The good news, customers have quality options to fulfill their requirements with, and they will vote with their wallets.

Vignette Two: “Congestion at the Intersection of Cloud Meets Big Data”

Ever been in a canyon in Arizona when a thundering horde of cattle came pounding in your direction? I’ve done some hiking in New Mexico and Arizona in my life and…well ok I saw a cow or two, but no stampede. The closest I ever came was last week at the EMC booth at OOW11. About every 5-10 minutes we would run a theater presentation and as the crowd left, you’d literally watch the booth staff step aside to avoid being trampled. I didn’t count them personally, but I know that way more than 13,000 people took a few minutes to talk to an expert or watch a show in our theater. Additionally we had EMC IT speaking about our transformation to virtualize our Oracle databases internally, we had EMC TV taping customer testimonials, and our meeting space was packed for 3 days straight. Unlike a traffic intersection, there’s always room for more.  Come join the movement!

Vignette Three:  “One Throat to Choke – if you have hands the size of Manhattan”

So let’s talk a little about clouds. The cloud is a lot like a Mainframe(MF), without ownership issues… What you say?!?  Stay with me here…if you look at the systems in support of PaaS, IaaS, SaaS, etc. what are their major features: Virtualization, Scale, Consolidation, Multi-tenancy, Systems management, Chargeback, etc.  They are in ways very similar to a big MF from the 1970’s.  A major difference is that the MF was a vertically integrated mostly proprietary single sourced product. The efficiency of the system was high, but the flexibility of user to choose how she used the system was limited and costly.  It’s taken us 30 years to get back to the same concept with a small but massive innovation: choice.  The cloud is the cloud because it’s democratic. It’s made up of many providers providing a litany of options on open systems. You get the benefits of MF on a hyper scale.  These key concepts are the essence of the “tipping point” (Malcom Gladwell)  for the next wave of IT, and these concepts are what bothered me about Oracle’s strategy as they too join the cloud. 

The keynote on Wednesday claimed that Oracle’s new public cloud offering is great because it’s standards based. This claim mainly hung on Java as the development platform. It was said many existing clouds and enterprise software are not valid because they are not based on these similar standards.

Yet now for the third year in a row, Oracle announced new appliances and a proprietary version of Linux that continue to drive the Oracle apps and DB owners to single sourced, primarily proprietary solution. Luckily for the thundering horde, there are good alternatives that offer better alignment to their entire IT strategy.  However, it’s the overwhelming message that this is somehow good for the industry, is what I would call, un-productive to the cause. A clear eye will see this as a trip “forward to the past”, back to a world Tom J. Watson would recognize.

Vignette Four: “It’s Easier to Ask for Forgiveness than Permission”

A man walks into a doctor and says “It hurts when I run my Oracle apps without Virtualization”, the doctor says “then virtualize”.  If there was a predominate dialog running through the entire show it was customers asking if, when and how they can virtualize Oracle.  Oracle has traditionally tried to make it difficult to virtualize Oracle using VMware; [assumptive] because a lack of VMware drives demand to their appliances and thus OVM. However this has been a small puddle in the path of progress that many have already crossed for both non-production and more recently production DBs. With vSphere5 the limitations have been removed and now it’s on a normal technology adoption cycle.  I already mentioned that a company as big as EMC is converting to an approximately 99% virtualized environment. We will see many customers virtualize the database in 2012 as described in this recent press release on American Tire Distributors.  Of the customers I spoke with, their primary concern was that Oracle support contract states, if there is a problem that can’t be resolved the customer may have to migrate to a physical environment to resolve it.   That’s not a crazy statement to have in a support contract, and it’s also not crazy for customers to be highly concerned about how this statement will be leveraged.  I appreciate that this big opportunity, to better really important IT environments, is also a risk because they are so important. This is why a natural technology adoption cycle exists, and it is similar to the virtualization of MS Exchange debate 5-6 years ago. We’re way past that one, the databases are next to be taken by the Virtual Tsunami.

Two recent surveys came out that I want to bring to your attention.

  • Storage Attach for VMWare Environments (Source: Goldman Sachs IT Spending Survey, March 2011)
    • EMC went from 33% (Dec 2010), to 40% (Feb 2011)
    • next closest competitor was 17% (Feb 2011)
  • EMC #1 Choice for Application Storage (Source: IDC’s Wrldwd Qtrly Strge Sys Tracker, Mar 2011,SUDS Survey )
    • Across seven categories including Oracle, SAP, SharePoint, Exchange, VDI, Analytics, EMC is #1. 
    • The 2nd and 3rd positions were not swept by any other vendor.

At EMC, we see this happening. There is no doubt the train has left the station, it’s your decision which car to jump on, or if you’re taking alternate transportation.

 Vignette Five: “Tragically Upstaged”

On Wednesday, Larry Ellison held the keynote. If you’ve never seen Larry present he’s casual, charismatic, and poisonous to his prey.  For Wednesday the prey was SAP & Salesforce.com. Like an XBOX shoot’em up, there was gore everywhere; if you avoid the inaccuracies, it was a great demonstration sleight of hand and showmanship. He also announced a few new offerings that I should spend some time on, but I’m going with a different angle here.

What really interested me happened close to the end of the keynote. Let me take you back to my blog “Shake Rattle and Roll”  where I talked about the different technologies I used versus my kids during the east coast earthquake. I wasn’t on social media and thus less informed and connected than my daughters.   I am here to report I am reformed!  I was on twitter during Larry’s speech typing and reading. It is there where I got the sad news about Steve Jobs. I then watched people begin to get up and leave the keynote, first a trickle, then a flow, then a flood.  Those who were not on social media probably didn’t know what was happening.  I however, was connected to my fellow techies at that moment, and though be it that I was completely bummed by the news, I felt I had closed the gap just a little on the iGeneration.