I talk to me about HPE

(This blog post was also published on LinkedIn)

Let’s get the disclaimers out of the way. HPE paid for my travel, lodging and food to attend HPE Discover 2016 earlier this month. That’s it (besides me having been an employee there in the past), they aren’t paying me for my opinions, writings, rants or videos.

I see a lot of good things going on at HPE. They say they deliver solutions to help customers IT organizations’ become more agile and they appear to be eating their dog food. For example, after they tried to compete in the public cloud business, they decided to focus instead on producing their excellent Helion private cloud management software.  They also adopted flash technology in their flagship 3PAR storage product line in a very effective, straightforward way, as opposed to creating confusing and diverging product lines the way EMC and Netapp did.  It appears they are even starting to figure out how to leverage the technology and team from their disastrous Autonomy acquisition to develop enterprise software for Big Data and IoT. In short, they seem to have figured out the markets that are important to them, the products they can sell today and the investments they need to make to compete in the future.

The pendulum of focus appears to have swung to the technology and product side of the business and away from marketing side. This was necessary, but HPE also needs to figure out how to communicate effectively about their technology and products, which is not easy for a company suffering from branding/naming confusion. Names are a tough challenge for many large IT vendors and HPE often struggles by inflicting good technology with unfortunate names – including flagship tech like “Composable Infrastructure”. The word composable does not mean anything to anybody and dictionary definitions shed no light whatsoever on what HPE is trying to communicate. This does not lead to a sense of mystery and capability as much as a sense of baloney. Ambiguity will not help HPE make it to where they want to go and they need all the clarity they can get.

HPE is not back to where they used to be because there really isn’t a “back there” anymore – the world has moved on and HPE is much better situated to pursue enterprise technology opportunities than HP ever was.

Fun Times in LinuxLand at SCaLE14x: Food, Drinks, Deadpool T-shirts & More!

linuxlandThe SCaLE14x conference begins tomorrow in Pasadena. Seeing as how I’ve been a Windows user all my life, there is a lot going on there that I don’t know anything about. I guess that’s what they call a learning opportunity.

But I do know a little bit about fun (although I am a Windows user) and one thing going on near the conference is happening Saturday night, January 23rd at the Kings Row Gastropub.  Starting at 7PM and ending sometime later, Datera (the company I work for) is hosting the worlds first #LIOBeers . LIO refers to Linux IO, especially Linux SCSI IO.  The beers part of LIOBeers is self-evident.  You don’t have to drink beer if you don’t want to, its just a name.

One of Datera’s founders, Nick Bellinger, who did a lot of work on and maintains LIO will be there. You can ask him anything about LIO or take the conversation elsewhere with Nick. He’s a lot of fun to hang with.  In addition, Mike Perez, who works for the OpenStack Foundation herding cats (Cross Project Development Coordinator) and was a Cinder Project Technical Lead will also be there. He also knows a lot about cats – the animals, which you know already if you follow him on twitter @Thingee.

0120161639_HDRAnd there’s more!! We will give away 10 Deadpool t-shirts to the first 10 peeps that show up!  I am modeling one of them in the photo on the right, where the shirt is obviously transferring super powers of some sort to me. (disclaimer: the powers you get from these shirts may or may not be super. Datera takes no responsibility for the effects transmitted.)

If you want to know about IO Linux and OpenStack IO, The Kings Row Pub will be the place to be Saturday. You don’t need to attend SCaLE14x to attend our event at The Kings Row. Datera is buying, burning some of our investor’s money. See you there.

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…….


Crazy Larry’s Cloud Odyssey

I thought I’d put together a little montage of Oracle‘s fearless leader Larry Ellison talking about cloud.  It’s not that Larry has been wishy-washy – he’s never wishy washy – but he has certainly changed his tune over the years as the business imperatives for cloud became more obvious to him.

When cloud started taking off, it was pretty clear it took Ellison by surprise. Now his company is playing catch up, which is something he is comfortable with and it wouldn’t surprise me to see Oracle make a few acquisitions, bring a few lawsuits and any other late-to-the-party shenanigans they do.  But will it work this time? Will people that feel trapped by their Oracle licenses want more of the same from their cloud operations?