Archives for 2014

EMC and Cisco swap DNA and divorce amicably


Now that EMC is acquiring VCE it’s clear that this was yet another Cisco-style spin-out/spin-in the same as MDS, UCS and Insieme. EMC got to partner with Cisco for compute and networking expertise, which gave credibility to its private cloud story and Cisco got to sell a lot more UCS systems to pay for continued R&D (as well as surfing on EMC’s private cloud hype). VCE was invented to light the fuse on a technology integration effort that neither Cisco or EMC could do on fighting-coupletheir own. Now that it’s complete and the CI (converged infrastructure) industry is in full swing, its time for these partners to divorce and come out kicking. VMware’s aquisition of Nicira was far too unfair of a menage a trois for Cisco to rationalize. This morning’s announcement is just the finalization of the paperwork. The two companies have been figuring out new sugar daddy angles for future CI arrangements and while they don’t want to sell the home they built together, EMC gets custody of the kids and Cisco has some visitation rights.

Its been a good run for both. Private cloud is not complete hype any more. The vision of private cloud may be totally confusing and inconsistent across vendors but that hasn’t stopped industries from forming before. EMC’s megaphone has driven a lot of attention to private cloud this-and-that over the last 5 years and everybody selling private cloud anything owes something to EMC for the awareness creation it’s done.

kitchengadgetSo we have two emerging industries that were jump-started by VCE – private cloud and CI.  Both are huge opportunities and the industry has EMC and Cisco to thank for it. If you work in technology, you should remember them both at Thanksgiving dinner this year.

Now for the fun part, here’s how I see the winners and losers lines forming.

The biggest winner: Joe Tucci and EMC

They saw what Cisco was doing there, got them to go halvsies on one and then broke up amicably. This might have been EMC at it’s very best because it was not mostly luck, like the VMware acquisition was. VCE was excellent planning.  The downside for them is that they have this big business with a lot of costs and overlap.

The biggest losers:  VCE employees

Unfortunately for the employees of VCE who left EMC and Cisco to go with the VCE joint venture, they are going to EMC, which just announced an earnings miss and is under big pressure from Activist investor Paul Singer (of Elliot Management) to do something about it.  As they say, there will be blood.

 The next biggest winner: Cisco

Cisco got UCS footprints in a lot of places where it never could have without EMC’s help. Lets face it, they were in a lot of trouble finding markets that were big enough to expand into. They trashed the Flip camera (I’ll always hate them for that) because it was too small a business that wasn’t going to expand enough.  Now they are front and center with CI and private cloud with UCS.  If there was a sugar baby in this deal, it was Cisco and they definitely got what they were looking for – new status in new places. The downside for them is that they actually have to do something on their own in the CI space, which probably means an acquisition. I’d place a small bet on Simplivity just because they have a deal with Cisco already.

The next biggest loser:  HP

The company that coined the term “converged infrastructure” and tried to create the market for it, is now just an afterthought in the CI space.  They had this in their sights and let it slip away.

Biggest winner #3: Paul Singer

The activist investor who has been pressuring EMC to unload VMware is going to have a field day with this. EMC is going to have to consolidate its workforce and he will argue more forcefully than ever that they also need to capitalize on the value of VMware by spinning it off.  His arguments will make more sense than they ever have before.

Biggest loser #3:  Shared between Dell and Microsoft

This week Microsoft announced its CI private cloud in a box, the Cloud Platform System (CPS). The thing that matters most is how few people cared about it. There was no buzz and the industry is not eagerly awaiting what will happen there, like they are with both EMC and Cisco.  Microsoft badly needs to be a private cloud player because its their main advantage against public cloud giants Amazon and Google. Microsoft seems to underestimate what it will take to compete for CI/private cloud business and that their homegrown technologies in CPS such as System Center and Storage Spaces are more like science projects than solutions. Dell was supposedly a partner in this announcement, but came across more as an afterthought of Microsoft’s. In fact, the EMC/Cisco divorce appears more friendly than the Microsoft partnership. With friends like these…….


Quaddracomix: How will you use Windows Unsuck?

A cartoon about the introduction of Windows 10

HP goes to the cloud casino and plays green



HP’s acquisition of Eucalyptus is raising eyebrows and drawing head scratches around the industry.  This morning I read another opinion on the deal after Greg Knieriemen  posted this tweet: “Good read by : “What HP Gains In Eucalyptus Cloud Deal” – ” I went there, read it and commented and then decided to post about it here, taking a little more time to think about it and adding a few links.

Most industry observers know that HP needs to find traction in the enterprise cloud business or risk becoming irrelevant. Although HP pioneered the converged infrastructure concept, they failed to capitalize on it and missed the hyper-convered platform opportunity when Nutanix and Simplivity came from seemingly nowhere.  Large online companies that once were customers now build their own platforms and make their designs available for anybody else to use. HP’s attempt to penetrate the smartphone  industry was a complete disaster and they have very little opportunities left in mobile.

Jon Rubenstein with TouchPad

HP’s Jon Rubenstein with TouchPad

So, they have no choice but to bet big on enterprise cloud and are doing the only thing they can by acquiring technology and people. But if you look at how the big 3 in cloud (Amazon, Google and Microsoft) are investing in this space, HP is already too far behind.  Amazon attempts to buy market share with every service and both Microsoft and Google have ways to print money that nobody else can touch.  For everybody, including HP, the ship of public cloud opportunities has already sailed. That said, HP can compete in the private cloud business if it can deliver open-source offerings that corporate DevOps customers want. They will have no trouble beating out Amazon, Microsoft and Google for that business because Amazon and Google are surprisingly lost with private cloud and Microsoft’s private cloud offerings are not well-aligned with corporate DevOps directions.

Shannon_Elizabeth_pokerBut the big 3 aren’t really the obstacle for private cloud. Pivotal (part of the EMC Federation) and Red Hat both have a big head start on HP in open-source enterprise solutions and posess the talent and know-how to make them – as well as the access to enterprise customers. Pivotal may be the most lethal here through alignment with EMC’s and VMware’s sales organizations. HP will have to execute very well and must continue to catch up by acquiring companies, which means they will have to outbid Pivotal and Red Hat to get them. What it can’t acquire, it will have to develop, and it’s not clear that they will be able to identify the missing pieces quickly enough to stay in the race. Still as they acquihire talent, they may be able to build a team that can compete. Their margin for error is razor thin. Getting employees from different backgrounds to quickly agree on anything will be an ardent exercise in cat-herding – something smart gamblers would bet against. Nonetheless, HP has a chance, a slim chance and it is going to have to play the game a long time, because everybody else is in it to win it. In the end, HP’s own efforts may be less relevant than those of its competitors, who will need to screw up to make room for HP at the table.casinoroyale all in

Why we reject IT-recommended file sync and sharing tools

water blastingI saw an article in  Information Management Online about research done by London-based Ovum  titled: Widespread Dissatisfaction with File Sync, Sharing Tools

The results of Ovum’s research, conducted with over 5000 corporate employees, indicates that only 9% of them using commercial file sharing technology that is authorized by their IT departments, like it.

This would be pretty damning, if true – but I have no reason to believe otherwise. The article claims over 19 vendors were named in the survey including Box, Citrix, Dropbox, Egnyte, EMC, Google, IBM, Microsoft, and WatchDox.  Part of the problem, of course, is that file sync technologies are integrated with corporate workflows and there are probably lots of reasons why people dislike those. When the goal of a technology is some form of bureaucratic processing, there just isn’t going to be a big fan base.

When there is discord, there are bad experiences, such as frustration underlying it. One thing I’d hope to find out from this research is what angers everybody so much about these technologies. I suspect a lot of it has to do with the amount of time it takes to find shared files. As the file store gets bigger and more fragmented, the different ways people name and categorize things becomes an obstacle and group cognition slows to a crawl.

While it tends to be most dreadful in large organizations, small ones are not immune. I have experienced the same frustration looking for a file in Google Docs working with a team of 5 as I have using SharePoint at Microsoft with many thousands of people. In other words, I don’t think the tool is the problem. It’s us. We need to find better ways to collaborate at work.

Changing this situation requires overcoming human fallibilities. If we aren’t good at finding files, then our crutch could be better search tools. That’s what the whole business of enterprise search is all about. It’s also what file analytics is about, although the dynamics are different.  Both allow co-workers to find each other’s files, but in the case of file analytics, the search tool is geared to managing files that are identified by the search process.

So even though file sync and share mostly suck, we are stuck using them.  Remedies for that may come from much better searching tools . That or we could just blob out into information entropy.

Congratulations to DataGravity on VMworld Best of Show

ferrari milk

Do you really need a Ferrari to get milk?

The interview below with Paula Long from DataGravity shows why the company is getting so much attention. She really is brilliant and I love a couple of the sound bytes:

“The obvious is sometimes revolutionary”

“Data protection is not just backup, it is understanding who is accessing the information and it is also understanding who should have access to information”

“Do you really need a Ferrari to get milk?”

DataGravity has already started to get people thinking differently about storage and data management. Their announcement last week is the beginning of a whole new vector for our industry and I’m incredibly excited about this new direction of what they call Data Aware Storage systems and File Analytics software.

Who knows what sales does and doesn’t do

who knows what sales does