Archive for category Convergence
The big Internet companies like Google, Amazon, Yahoo and Facebook are having a profound impact on the IT ecosystem. Wikibon has been tracking the hyperscale infrastructure developments for the past few years (see much of this at Wikibon.org/SLI – our Software-led Infrastructure page) and how both the operational models and technologies used are impacting service providers and enterprise environments. The hyperscale (or web-scale) companies still only make up about 20% of IT revenue, but more signifiantly, most of the growth (see server revenue as a barometer of this activity). There are significant differences between the applications in hyperscale (custom written to optimize for massive scale) and enterprise (typically off-the shelf), so the theme is not that the enterprise of tomorrow will look like the web companies of today.
EMC World 2010 was the first enterprise show of SiliconANGLE’s theCUBE. Over the last 3 years, theCUBE has interviewed more than 1,000 guests at dozens of shows; EMC World is one of the most popular programs every year. EMC has expanded far beyond storage to become a “federation” of companies in the EMC family: EMC, VMware and the newly launched Pivotal. The live broadcast schedule for theCUBE at EMC World will be a full 3 days, Monday May 6 – Wednesday May 8, 10am – 5pm Pacific. Guests include many CEOs, CIOs, CTOs, thought leaders and end-users from a broad spectrum of topics. Coverage this year will include spotlights focusing on the disruptive and growth opportunities for EMC and its ecosystem. For those attending EMC World in person – our broadcast location is part of EMC SQUARE, conveniently located outside of the solutions pavilion.
Enterprise IT departments are faced with the burden of keeping costs down while meeting the increasing requirements of the business. Administrators become experts on coping with the complexities of configurations rather than supporting new initiatives. Hyperscale data centers can manage many orders of magnitude more infrastructure with the same staff; Facebook manages 20,000 servers per technician. One path towards simplifying operations by moving to an IT as a Service model is to use converged infrastructure. Wikibon has predicted a steep growth in the adoption of converged infrastructure (see the market forecast); recent data shows that the spectrum of solutions is already selling over $1B in 2Q12. The move from deploying IT silos to convergence requires adjustments in staffing, tools and business processes and often must fight against organizational inertia.
With its recent announcement, VCE is showing the world that it is more than a solution of parts from the parent companies (Cisco, EMC, VMware and Intel). VCE’s revenue is now tracking over $1B per year thanks to Q4 2012 being over $250M and according to industry trackers, is the top selling converged infrastructure solution. The most notable piece of VCE’s recent announcement is that for the first time, the company is bringing a software product to market that was developed in-house – VCE Vision Intelligent Operations which will start shipping with all Vblocks in April 2013. First of all, the creation of a new software line is a proof point that the company is not a short-term project; despite the coopetition between parent companies, the bottom line is that VCE provides revenue and strategic value in how EMC and Cisco bring data center solutions to the market. At its core, VCE Vision software helps deliver on the mission of the company, which is to help simplify infrastructure for virtualized environments by moving from siloed components to management at the rack level. Managing by the rack rather than the component is how hyperscale companies manage their environments at much lower operational costs (see Rack Level Architectures and Hyperscale Operations). Virtualization administrators will now manage a “Vblock” item directly in vCenter, so the internal components become invisible, allowing for much less day-to-day touching of the solution.
Last week, HP announced the ProLiant Gen8 server line and the overarching Project Voyager initiative (see Wikibon and SiliconAngle’s full coverage here). While HP is the #1 server vendor, with over fifty percent marketshare, it has been under attack from Cisco’s UCS and converged solutions (through partnerships with NetApp and EMC/VCE). Convergence is about driving greater efficiency and application integration. HP spent over two years and $300M of investment on Project Voyager and this delivers on a broad range of enhancements that position HP well in the battle for convergence.
HP stated on a recent analyst call that its VirtualSystem best-of-breed integrated system is the “only real alternative to VCE” [Vblock]. While HP may have VCE in its competitive sights, all of the major storage vendors have been ramping up efforts in the converged infrastructure space.
While the number of virtual machines (VMs) that can be deployed on any infrastructure will vary by workload and there are many other capabilities (such as energy efficiency, cost, support, performance, and application support) that should be considered in evaluating stacks, it can be seen that not all stacks are geared for all environments.
Over a year ago, I posed the question, “Does 10Gb Ethernet change the Competitive landscape?” Cisco has been the dominant player in networking, for over a decade no competitor ever captured even ten percent of the market. While Ethernet is continuing its march into new markets and new applications, the market landscape has definitely changed. Fresh off of VMworld, there is a buzz in the networking world around new opportunities and architectures.
The Big Trends
Over 18 months ago, when EMC and Cisco created a joint venture (with some involvement from VMware and Intel), there was talk of hardware (the Vblock which includes Cisco’s then new UCS server), management software and even the joint support; but the purpose of the endeavor was to deliver new ITaaS solutions for both enterprises and service providers. Over the first year, there were a number of changes made to the business model, switching from what was essentially a reference model that could be assembled by VARs and SIs to single-SKU offerings that would be shipped from The VCE Company. A services option, “Acadia”, that would build, operate and transfer the solution was dropped, reducing potential competitive friction with service providers who are a primary customer base. Now at over 900 employees, the significant investment in the VCE model has come under question by some. The investments by EMC and Cisco in VCE are a bet on the future of IT that is high stakes/high return. This is not a little 3-month project, but a strategic move to pivot toward the next transformation of IT that will deliver billions of dollars of hardware and services.
Traditionally, compute, storage and networking capacity have been purchased as separate resources, with largely independent management structures. Indeed, in most organizations for example, the networking and storage teams have different reporting lines and are measured on achieving different goals. Again, by way of example, networking architectures are highly flexible and designed to accommodate new users quickly. Networking professionals often need to reconfigure the network to support new business growth. Storage on the other hand, particularly block-based SAN storage is a different animal. Usually once the SAN is hardened, storage admins don’t like to mess with the infrastructure and make changes to the system unless absolutely necessary. SAN managers are intensely focused on data reliability and integrity whereas in networking, if data is dropped it can be re-submitted without any major disruption to the business.