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/

Tuesday Jul 07, 2009

Congestion, Creativity, Capital and Competition

Despite the global economic downturn some businesses are aggressively spending for the opportunities of the future.  However the spending of today has conflicting objectives that some would argue are necessary.  Let's take wireless mobile providers throughout the world.  In this market, competition is fierce and beneficial to consumers.  The services offered to subscribers are plentiful and rich but they do come at a high cost for the providers.  Subsidizing the phones from the likes of Nokia, Apple, Samsung and Blackberry is one big cost to get the customer's subscription.

It's great that technology has enabled GSM phones to work almost everywhere in the world except Japan "where you'll need a special phone that either supports CDMA or uses the 3G standard UMTS in the 2100 MHz frequency band. Sony Ericsson, Nokia, and a few other phone manufacturers now offer multi-band GSM phones that also include support for UMTS 2100. Coverage also extends to some cruise ships." There is a crowded group of companies looking for the opportunity to connect to individuals to provide any and all content. It's as if companies have discovered another Gold Rush.

I'm excited to see wireless and cable providers compete and innovate for delivering services to all of us around the world.  Watching cable providers offering land line service over IP and phone companies offering internet connectivity is a good example of the competitiveness out there.  The days of just delivery of service or being only the data pipe are long gone.  Providers want to delivery the data but more importantly they want to create the applications that produce the data.  The telco, cable provider and handset manufacturer all want to own as much of the subscriber stack as possible.  Now that's competition!  Here in the U.S. Comcast and Verizon are aggressively competing to win one subscriber at a time for internet, phone and HD television service.  As a result both companies are making massive investments in capital expenditures.

In fact, despite the global recession, capital spending continues throughout the world by some companies as a competitive advantage for the rebounding economy in the future.  Having spent the past few weeks talking to customers in New Zealand, Australia, Germany and reading newspapers such as the Financial Times, I've collected a group of random data.  This data can be basically summarized into Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection and applies to business as well as nature.

  • world airlines have 866 Boeing 787 Dreamliners on order.  Each 787 averages ~$200M U.S. each!
  • new cargo ships ordered or under construction is ~50% \*more\* than anticipated need
  • telcos are making huge capital investments but they understand they cannot be sustained
  • will energy become so expensive that transporting it becomes prohibitive?
  • will multiple countries practice protectionism such that localization becomes attractive again?

I'm excited that new technology will be able to help address the above as well as new economic problems we will all face in the future.


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

Thursday Sep 18, 2008

The Physical .vs Virtual World

We all live in both the physical and virtual worlds today even if we do not understand.  The realities of the financial market and the brutal corrections of sub-prime paper is here.  It's as if we can hear the sound of (you need new car brakes) bare metal screeching on metal trying to halt the stock market pullback.  We also have many flavors of operating systems running physically on bare metal (a given microporocessor).  When it comes to native code running on hardware it's like a common mundane book... we all can do it.  Speaking of books if you enjoy a non fiction or bare metal read, "The Dark Side" By Jane Mayer may suit you.  The book has made the New York Times bestseller list.  Reading it made me think about integrity and courage.

The virtual world is upon us.  In the technology space the industry has fully functional tools that allow us to compress, manage and migrate virtual machines (instances of computers) into a single physcial computer.   This week at VMworld 2008 in Las Vegas, Nevada virtualization products and services are front and center.  Do you realize that the virtual machine has become THE application?  Forget about all those applications running on the virtual machine.  Applications have merely been abstracted to mere subroutines of the virtual machine.  Abstracted to insignificance in the virtual world.  Do you like a good read on virtualization- that is mind provoking, but hardly mentions high technology at all?  If you do the "The Black Hole War" By Leonard Susskind will work.  Timely appropriate given the Large Hadron Collider @ CERN switched on last week! It took 20 years to build.  While we constantly live our busy daily lives here in the physical world, there are a lot of theoretical physicists that are constantly trying to discover the mysteries of our universe.  A universe so vast, complex and unknown that we as humans may never fully understand all of its secrets.  Trying to unify Quantum Mechanics with the General Theory of Relativity is the big mystery.  Why do atoms (little ones) have differnt rules than planets (big ones)?

String theory and black holes are all discussed in the book without much math but in layman terms using thought experiments.  Definitely puts virtualization products into perspective.  Let the theoretical physicists solve the hard stuff!  I'll focus on hypervisors and emulation rather than space time and quarks.


About

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

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