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.

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CLOUD WRANGLING, EMC Leads in Substance & Stats at VMWORLD 2012


Many of you realize this is a big week in San Francisco as over 21,000 people descend on Moscone Center for VMWorld 2012. If you want to take a little of your day to immerse yourself, here is a link to two live video streams from the show(http://bit.ly/PVr6U7). 

 

 The show is all to do about technical advancements and staging to continue the march towards a total virtualized IT Landscape. The prime announcement from VMware yesterday was the release of vCloud Suite 5.1. vCloud Suite release is not just a bump in version number, but a consolidation of functionality between cloud  management and the virtualization; and a healthy step towards the software driven data center. You can just see some of the new acquisitions fitting into the roadmap. Here’s an article on the topic( http://bit.ly/NzPPte)

 

 VMWorld is an interesting show, when it comes to virtualization there really has been no notable competition to date from the field. So when you go to VMWorld, everyone is there. It’s a true conglomeration of the industry.  There are always a few shinning stars at the show that seem to get the most attention. I thought in 2011 EMC showed well and had a powerful and humorous presence (vodgeball, come on what’s more fun than that?). However, EMC is poised to shadow its former glory with its current self.

 

 EMC at VMWorld 2012 will be the vendor to beat for overall presence and frankly substantive innovation featured at the show.  Tuesday, 2nd day of the show will see a barrage of announcements, some of which I highlight below. Keep your ear out, walk the floor, watch the videos and find the passion to abstract some apps from their physical chains in 2012-13.

 

THING TO LISTEN FOR:

Wikibon Survey says customers single out EMC as #1 in VMware attach storage by 3x the competition: (http://on.mktw.net/QJqMUP)  

  • Late last week Wikibon published their annual survey and EMC was named “Best Storage Across All Categories for VMware vSphere Environment”. This 2nd year running.

 

VMware and EMC announce VDP release with embedded Avamar

  • EMC Avamar Technology Selected for New VMware vSphere Data Protection
  • EMC and VMware Integrate World-Class Backup and Recovery Capabilities Into VMware vSphere
  • Product co-developed between VMW and Avamar teams similar to work done with Legato in the past
  • VDP is an advanced, enterprise-proven deduplication backup solution that SMBs and departmental users can manage from the new vSphere Web Client.
  • With Avamar technology tightly integrated into the VMware platform, users benefit from industry-leading deduplication, full support for Changed Block Tracking for both backup and recovery, and flexible self-service restores.
  • VDP establishes a foundation within vSphere from which to launch additional backup and recovery capabilities over time, so that VMware data protection can scale to meet future customer requirements.

 

EMC VFCache 1.5 First to Deduplicate Server Flash Cache(http://on.mktw.net/QOjPSs)

  • Drives New Levels of Efficiency with Deduplication
  • Interoperable with VMware vSphere vMotion; Builds Foundation for Integration with EMC VMAX productline
  • Solution delivers in-line deduplication of cached data—an industry first.
  • Significant VFCache hardware and software updates improve performance and capacity, including support for Cisco UCS Blade Servers
  • Look for an upcoming in-depth video on Sam Marraccini’s Blog ( http://www.insideflash.com)

 

SRM Suite EMC Delivers Comprehensive Management Suite for Application-to-Storage Service Level Management

  • New EMC Storage Resource Management (SRM) Suite ( http://yhoo.it/OmSmct )delivers a comprehensive application-to-storage analysis, breaking down IT department silos for common insight into service level management, priorities and tasks.
  • The SRM Suite combines EMC ProSphere, EMC Storage Configuration Advisor, and recently acquired EMC Watch4net into a single package
  • Works with all EMC storage and third party storage arrays for both file and block.

 

Storage Analytics Suite

  • EMC and VMware Unveil Early Access Program for New EMC VNX Storage Analytics Suite
  • Customers Can Preview Joint Analytics Solution Prior to General Availability
  • Helps proactively identify bottlenecks, balance workloads and ID root cause to problems.
  • ID and troubleshoot performance problems and remediate
  • Simplify storage operations management (great visualizations)
  • Proactively optimize storage performance across physical and virtual environments
  • Improve collaboration through holistic management across the enterprise

 

Cisco and EMC Accelerate IT Transformation with VSPEX and Vblock Systems

 

 EVENTS TO CATCH:

 

WIRED Mag Hosts CEOs on Innovation (Monday, 8/ 27  Gateway Ballroom 103/104 )

  • Wired Magazines’ Editor-in-Chief Chris  Anderson will emcee a panel of noteworthy CEOs on the “The Innovation Paradox”
  • Joe Tucci will be featured along with Paul Martiz, Pat Gelsinger, Michael Dell, Tom Georgens
  • The event is open to all VMworld attendees through standard registration and will take place at Moscone Center South, Gateway Ballroom 103/104. This Spotlight session will also be webcast live

 

Super Session (Tuesday, 8/28 at 2:00p) Jeremy Burton, EVP & protector of the EMC Brand, will deliver a Super Session presentation and ‘Live’ demonstrations

  • Highlighting EMC’s shared vision with VMware to Transform IT, Business, Cloud computing and yourself

 

Taking a Seat at the Big Data Table


Today EMC made a concerted effort to lay down the “table stakes” at the Big Data table, quietly demanding respect for their bid as an anchor player in the future of Big Data. At the start of day on the tech heavy west coast, word rang out of the EMC announcement in the industry press channels. Today, EMC announced their answer to expanding collaboration between data scientists, and the acquisition of the world-class development house of Pivotal Labs.  In a world inundated by an almost endless amount of corporate-generated press releases, this was noteworthy through the noise.

 Why?  Let me give you a few points to consider. Ok first, have you ever had a need to execute a mental task or two on your computer only to find that your virus scanner was running, or the company is installing something behind the scenes and you are relegated into feeling like you are living in the Slow-mo footage at ESPN? You wait seconds if not minutes everything slows down and somewhere in the process you realize you have forgotten EVERYTHING you were doing and your creative energy is all but drained from your person. You might as well just do email now…

Well I tell you this loss is pervasive in our IT world, often we lose the ability to execute on our most brilliant ideas because of timing, multi-tasking churn, and the inability to effectively execute on collaborative activities, all before the constant rush of information again flows over our levees’ and we’re buried in the next rush of content. Like waves at the beach we only have so long between the intervaled poundings to make real progress.  So if we imagine this to be true of the basics of our business lives, now imagine the pace of predictive and/or low-latency analytics where the provisioning, processing, analysis, decision and actions have to happen in a day, or an hour, or a second, or a micro-second.  We’ve got to get better at our ability to process in the cycle-times we have. Of course to address micro-second requirements will require machine based processes, but there is an immense opportunity to refine our cycles that fall in the realm of human processing.

One of the most critical tools of human invention is timely collaboration. Humans make better decisions faster when they can leverage readily available tools, data and peers. Imagine the perfect world where you can get data when you need it, you can get advice when you ask for it, you can push a result to another for review without technical limitations, and you didn’t even have look at an email to do it.  This is the big step EMC made today by announcing “Greenplum Chorus”.

 

Greenplum Chorus is a collaborative environment that allows the users (data scientists) to self-provision space, capture, transpose, assess, and share chunks of data without approvals, requests, or IT intervention.  We’ve seen how impactful social tools like Twitter or Yelp have been. The ability to connect, share and discover has profoundly changed the world, and now we have a similar social lever to use in the advancement of data analytics.  Chorus will additionally be a landing zone for an eco-system of 3rd party offerings allowing for freedom to advance the evolving strategies of its user community.

 

WOW, if that wasn’t enough to talk about.  The acquisition of Pivotal Labs is the laser sharpened sword hidden in a gentleman’s cane.  These guys are extremely competent, experienced, and pedigreed. If you were look at their customer and collaborative projects list, it’s the who’s-who of this IT age. Technically Pivotal Labs brings to the equation, their focus on agile development tools and an invaluable resume of cloud, analytics and mobile success stories.  In addition, Pivotal Tracker is an industry leading agile development platform with hundreds of thousands of active developers currently using the platform. Akin to SAP’s purchase of Business Objects, this provides EMC with not only great technology, but an existing eco-system to embolden the go-forward plan.

 

Easy as 1-2-3

EMC Greenplum is known for their high performance data driven solutions which are cloud ready. Now you add a collaborative platform that engages the users in socially empowered self-service model, and an integration platform to pull the story together and you can see an impact player in the making.

What Happened in Vegas – SAP Insider Follow Up


ImageWell I’m back home from a trip to SAP Insider’s conference and I promised to answer a series of questions based on my conversations from the show. If you will allow me, I am going to change how I deliver on my earlier commitments.  I found my questions morphed drastically as I engaged the attendees.  Why?  well frankly I stink at being a reporter and in fairness, the show’s attendance changed this year enough that I found myself going in a different direction.

Go back four or five years ago and there were two shows called “Admin” and “BI”. They were primarily attended by BASIS teams who were dealing with infrastructure issues.  With SAP’s M&A strategy and SAP’s messaging evolution, the event has changed to reflect the new SAP. Now the show had divested to create “Cloud & Virtualization”, “Mobile”, & “Business Objects Bootcamp”.  Let’s admit it, since 2009 the economy and general show attendance has fluctuated. I am sure that has something to do with the shows coming together in a co-located venue allowing for those attending to stay in a single track or blend their experience across multiple domains.  This is not intended to be an Oracle Open World or SAPPHIRE level event, it’s not that big. In my experience the 2nd-3rd level shows tend to be better attended on the east coast.  So net-net, even with the bundling of multiple shows, the attendance was a little light this year. Additionally a show that used to be a haven for BASIS teams seems to have changed in personnel and now is a different show entirely.  I think this is important because it is a reflection on the wider changes in the SAP industry.  I have a couple of insights about this that I will explain through a discussion of those who attended amd those who didn’t.

 There were 3 types of people present at the show and 2 types surprisingly absent:

1)      PRESENT: Those who want to catch up on virtualization/Cloud.

If I generalize the group, the Cloud attendees were a more “matter of fact” group. They were either going to the cloud, had an upcoming RFP, or presented themselves in a way that they felt they needed to “catch up” with everyone and get virtualized or to the cloud.  This is an interesting dynamic given that this same time last year Cloud was the fresh buzz and only those with iron guts were talking about venturing their mission critical to the cloud.  This shows the pace of innovation in the current market and ultimately that the cloud benefits have “held” and the scary risks have subsided. This adoption is also in the face of all the HANA interest which today is not (practically) a cloud ready product. So in a careless and causal way I’ll make the broad generalization that many if not most are taking a “get to the [private, hybrid, public] cloud now and pilot HANA in the lab” approach with the assumption HANA will somehow fit into their overall architecture as they mature their programs.

 

2)      PRESENT: Those who want to deploy HANA or are active BOBJ users:  

I arrive at my statistical certainties by the scientific process of “# of questions asked” and how many people attend various session topics. Given my sample size, time of day differences, and the deviation in how much coffee I have consumed at a given time, make my prognostications suspect at best. However, let’s not let truth stand in the way of knowledge.   I would have to give the hands down vote of “topic of highest interest” to HANA. HANA sessions were packed  most attendees seemed to be staging HANA pilots or were BOBJ users who were investigating how HANA would impact BOBJ over the next few years. The Keynote given by Steve Lucas, Senior Vice President and General Manager Business Analytics at SAP was all Big Data. He talked about open source, unstructured data, Hadoop and brought it all back to SAP’s data analytics stack, which is based primarily off HANA and remnants of the Sybase.  SAP is Big Data obsessed and so are its customers.

 

3)      PRESENT: Those who are looking to deploy mobile apps that integrate with SAP

I must admit I am most impressed with SAP’s dive into the mobile market. Within just several months they have taken this global ERP company, added Big Data and integrated a mobile BYOD story as if it was always there. It’s very tight messaging, even if the technologies are still coming together in a few spots. I really enjoyed the well attended sessions on the details of the SUP.  What’s “SUP”… “dunno, What’s up with you?”  SUP is Sybase Unwired Platform. This is the API and code set that was added to SAP’s arsenal through the Sybase acquisition which allows users to write platform specific or platform agnostic applications. As they pulled back the covers at the show, it’s not perfect yet, but it does provide a solution that many of the install base can use to close down on the “last mile” (aka the mobile user).

 

4)      ABSENT: Those who’ve already began executing the Cloud

The Surprising VOID of the show was the contingent of folks who are actively deployed or who are deploying a cloud solution.  I personally/causally know many who just weren’t there. Of those I talked to before the show, I had a perspective. They said they are deep in deployment and weren’t sending anyone. What I didn’t realize was how pervasive a phenomenon this was.  I’m not saying there was no one chasing the cloud, but it was notably down and my minor investigations into this, presented a plain fact. Customers “get it” and are “doing it”. Interestingly enough, this is exactly where EMC IT is in their multi-phased process to reach Cloud-enabled ITaaS.  They too stayed home this year. Though I missed the constant discussion of Cloud, I realize a more important event has happened. In past blogs I have talked about Gladwell’s Tipping Point for the cloud. I think we’re there.  Cloud for mission critical has moved into the mainstream.

 

5)      ABSENT: Those who are making investments in Big Data other than HANA:

Another interesting attribute of this event was that the broad heterogeneous all encompassing world of Big Data is seamlessly shrunk to nothing but BOBJ and HANA (with a token Hadoop thrown in).  Ok, you may say that SAP has aggressively driven the competition away from the venue. Maybe, but that isn’t the vibe I get. Even those that come up to you in conversation, do not seem to have a vocabulary or interest that extends much further than the SAP Landscape. I attribute this to a couple of factors. One is that SAP is a big animal. It’s like a youthful trip to the amusement park. You couldn’t see the boundaries, it felt endless. I think many who build their careers on SAP, live within a large ecosystem that can consume your focus without the need to test the boundaries.

 

Secondly I think it is a function of how “new” data analytics/Big Data is to SAP. BOBJ is Business information integration technology, and before Sybase there were few who considered SAP in the realm of database management.  HANA is a fairly new concept, only appearing a few years ago.  So the SAP user community is comprised of people who haven’t traditionally been players in the pre-cursors to Big Data and thus possibly not broadly trained on the overall market.  This is not to imply an inability to execute, only that this is really new and the SAP ecosystem is evolving. It will look notably different in a couple of years.

 

So those were my major insights from SAP Insider sessions in Vegas. I hope you pulled at least one nugget from the pan. Until next time, stay informed. Adios.