Wednesday Nov 18, 2009

IT Infrastructure Products, Partnerships and Paraphernalia

Announcements have certainly accelerated lately with respect to integrated infrastructure technology.  Multiple vendors who provide infrastructure hardware for compute, storage and network are either partnering with each other or pursuing a "go alone" strategy.  Few will disagree that more tightly integrated solutions will benefit IT customers.

However an IT solution has always had the expectation and requirement to be integrated.  That is why the IT industry has developed over the years standards and protocols.  In other words, common industry accepted methods to move, process and protect business as well as consumer information.  Traditionally large complex IT solutions have been integrated by VARs, management consulting firms or consulting services for a given customer.  Is that beginning to change?  Also the IT solution is comprised of more than just tightly integrated hardware blocks. 

Let's not forget about the various applications that need to run on any given vendors hardware platform.  In addition to the applications, virtualization is becoming a standard requirement to maximize the utilization of any vendors integrated hardware platform.  Infrastructure providers will need to adjust to the fact that hypervisor technology may sell less hardware because utilization and efficiency will be largely improved.

Does this new focus on consolidation favor software stacks that are both heterogeneous and therefore ubiquitous?  The IT industry has become a mature business.  New ideas will always continue but IT will still be comprised of both hardware and software. 

A good analogy is the automobile industry...  Automobiles have had tremendous amounts of progress over the past 100 years.  For example there have been many optimizations and efficiencies with car manufacturing, car fuel efficiency, etc.  Over the past 20 years the automobile industry has highly leveraged the use of embedded electronics in cars.  But the basic components of a car (tires, engine, brakes, steering wheel, etc.) have (and for the foreseeable future) not changed.

Blog is available also at: http://bobporras.wordpress.com/

Wednesday Nov 04, 2009

A Time Capsule for the Enterprise?

On Halloween I upgraded the desk side PC from Windows XP to Windows 7.  Between multiple reboots, application installs, recovery of email, print server configuration, etc. my wife asked "Why does it have to be so hard?"  As she said this I was looking at the Apple Time Capsule sitting on top of a small cabinet in our home basement. The only item coming out of the Time Capsule was the power cord connected to the power outlet.  I run the Time Capsule as a wireless client in our home network for data backup.  The data consists of many pictures, video clips, songs, the kids homework and basically many various files (some of which are important).

My home (LAN) network has grown over the years from a few PCs connected via an old 802.11b router to a dual band (802.11g/802.11n) router connecting a multitude of wireless clients. These include a XBox, iTouch, PrintServer, OpenSolaris, Ubuntu, Mac, Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 devices.  Basically a heterogeneous environment.  Will the older Window versions be phased out at home eventually?  Yes.  The Unix/Linux clients will remain out of necessity as well as for hobby.  It's difficult to currently beat the Mac experience.  Adding a Time capsule into my existing home network was relatively easy.  The Airport setup updated the Time Capsule firmware and configured the device in straight forward steps.  It wasn't as "fun" for a "techie" as say CLI commands, but simple is defined as "fun" for most consumers. The Windows XP to Windows 7 full upgrade was painfull but I have to admit the network configuration experience was much improved.  I was pleasantly surprised freeware Bonjour discovery services just worked and the W7 system configured the Time Capsule as a usable share.

One could imply a similar situation in the enterprise space.  For an enterprise business "fun" is defined as high margin dollars on a growing revenue stream.  This usually means your costs are contained, you implement continuous improvements on efficiency and you simplify.  Vendors in the technology industry are all trying to provide a truly "Enterprise Time Capsule" or Appliance.  There has been a large amount of innovation over the past 20 years.  However today's innovation is tomorrow's PDP-11Minicomputers were appliances that Mainframes couldn't be.  The evolution has continued over the years in every technology segment.

Enterprise customers want it simple as do consumers.  While the stakes are much higher in the enterprise, the bar is significantly raised for "just working" each and every time.  It doesn't matter if you are playing catchup, you are the incumbent or you are the new thought leader-- the winners will be the set of vendors who provide the tool that "just works" each and every time in the harshest and most complex environments. 

Blog is available also at: http://bobporras.wordpress.com/


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The blog of Bob Porras - Vice President, Data, Availability, Scalability & HPC for Sun Microsystems, Inc.

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