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.

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“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.

“Shake Rattle and Roll” – A Singular Virtual Experience


As I sat here in Richmond, Virginia today feeling the earth’s amazing power to shake rocks across state lines, I experienced my first 5.9 earthquake. It felt and sounded like someone dribbling a dumpster for what seemed like 2 minutes. All in all, no major damage to respond to and no lasting effects. Work only slowed for about 30 minutes as everyone chattered a bit. Now the states of Virginia and the Carolinas prepare for hurricane Irene to dance her way across the southern mid-Atlantic. All of this environmental upheaval had me thinking about writing a blog on risk and how companies need stronger disaster recovery plans… But I was struck by another aspect of the experience that left me fascinated: “Connectivity”.

First I should say I was on the phone with someone in North Carolina during the event and approximately 45-60 seconds into my “vibra-dance”, they felt the rumble too; creepy cool. During the earthquake I checked weather and internet search sites to see if anything was reported. It took over 10 minutes for these channels to first start registering the news of the event. I’m old enough to be impressed with that as a technology innovation, but I knew that would not win the “first to report” race.

With a complete lack of political bias I simultaneously checked FoxNews.com and CNN.com, both had a breaking news tag within 5 minutes after the last piece of furniture stopped shaking. I was impressed. This is where I learned it was a 5.8 earthquake (later 5.9) and that it was based in Virginia.

Continuing…a few minutes later I typed an email to some folks in another Richmond office across town. They responded back within a minute that the epicenter was in Mineral, Va. Mineral is about 39 miles away. So within say 6 minutes, I knew it all. I knew what had happened, where it happened, and mostly importantly I wasn’t losing my mind, others have felt it too. In 6 minutes it was history. Some would say it would be better to know 6 minutes before the event, but from a technology perspective, the immediacy would have blown the minds of anyone who died before 1990.

Note when I got off my phone call, I lost voice connectivity completely. I feared infrastructure damage, but later realized this was an overload. Through it all, my internet continued flawlessly.

Ok but it gets better (and worse). Both of my daughters were each on opposite corners of the city at the time, preparing for school and sports teams. Both daughters, while the earthquake was rattling, went on Facebook and both had not 1, but many entries screaming “E-A-R-T-H-Q-U-A-K-E” one typed letter at a time. This blows my mind and I’m not dead yet.

Why did this blow my mind? I give your two reasons. One: that a generation of people through an overlapped network of friends and acquaintances shared the experience as if they were in a room together. There’s no “I can’t wait to tell my friend when I see her” happening in their world. It happens real-time. And, two: All of those kids went to Facebook almost simultaneously as they checked in with the “adult in charge” on what to do in this emergency situation (remember East Coaster’s know very little about earthquakes). I for one didn’t consider Facebook or social media at all in this time of crisis, I fell upon old patterns. I picked up the phone and the liberated Gen-X’r that I am; I typed out words in a search engine.

I feel this is a great example of how the world is changing. The generation gap isn’t like the one I had with my parents. I think it’s quite easy to raise teenagers. We seem to understand each other better. We listen to the same music. However, the gap is as wide. We’re notably different in how we interact with the world, in how build trust networks and in how we respond to others like corporations.

We in the business world are already hiring, marketing and selling to the first generation of this big change. Many of us seasoned professionals scoff at these changes as if they aren’t that impactful, but they are. When you choose social media first or even second as a tool for dealing with a “gut-check” emergency there is a fundamental connection that has powerful implications some brilliant and positive, some scary. To them it was a Singular Virtual Experience.
I for one heard its virtual rumble and understood its power today.