Undoing Ballmer

Steve BallmerI first saw the news in a tweet from my friend Mark Twomey (@Storagezilla): Microsoft have just written off the entire Nokia handset business Steve Ballmer bought – citing this news article on Bloomberg

As usual, Mark digested this news like a surviving wild west gunfighter: shoot fast, shoot straight and without trying to untangle the “fancy talk” in Microsoft’s press release – attributed to CEO Satya Nadella:

We are moving from a strategy to grow a standalone phone business to a strategy to grow and create a vibrant Windows ecosystem including our first-party device family,” Nadella said. “In the near-term, we’ll run a more effective and focused phone portfolio while retaining capability for long-term reinvention in mobility.

Here’s my take on it:

1) The Windows Phone business is hopelessly behind Apple and Android with no way to catch up. Nadella has known this for some time but has not been able to make this move until now.

2) Windows Phone has been a huge distraction and productivity-limiter inside Microsoft where there was a culture house of cards win phoneencouraging employees to use Windows phones at work – and discouraging them from using Apple and Android phones.  For a company with a strategy to enable mobile computing, this was a major problem because many of Microsoft’s employees were behind the mobile curve using app-deficient Windows phones. This statement is likely inflammatory, but I stand behind it.

3) There are other Ballmer screw-ups that will be under the Microscope, including Surface. This is a much bigger problem because Surface tablet PCs are decent products that have some strong customer loyalty, but have been a big disappointment financially for Microsoft. The bottom line is that nothing has done more to sour Microsoft’s most important partnerships (HP, Dell and all other PC makers) than Surface. Not even the disastrous Windows 8 operating system. Windows 8 will soon be replaced by Windows 10, but the Surface remains as a disincentive for every company Microsoft needs to help bury the memory of Windows 8. As long as this idiotic competition exists, people will question the intelligence and management decisions from Redmond.

4) Microsoft will look at all of its hardware businesses differently, including Xbox. It would not surprise me to see a sale of the Xbox hardware business with the Surface business as a sweetener. Nadella clearly sees the need to focus on dev/ops services, apps and cloud. Hardwarxbox drive repaire, even successful gaming hardware, is a distraction and Nadella knows this. Maybe that will be next July’s bombshell.

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.

Why does StorSimple Matter?

Today is one of those spotlight days when people who don’t know much about StorSimple will want to find out more.

In a nutshell, we have been developing what we believe is the best cloud data management technology that allows our customers to use cloud storage services to manage their enterprise data and storage.

We don’t make the cloud look like a disk drive or tape drive, we make the cloud available as a place to manage data. Our technology segments data that is stored in our systems into small pieces and we track each and every one of those segments wherever it happens to be – whether it is in SSD storage, on hard disks or in the cloud.  As the data is updated, we track all those changes too.

Why?  Because it makes things like recovery from the cloud a whole lot faster than pretending to be a tape drive and it creates a system where data portability between the enterprise data center and the cloud is possible. If you are going to move data between earth and sky, you need to keep track of it somehow and keep up with the changes.  We have a system for doing that.  The various segments of a volume can be anywhere within reach – such as in the cloud – and customers can mount the volume. We assemble all the segments and serve them to applications as they are needed. That’s why disaster recovery is so fast with StorSimple. Customers mount the volume – in the cloud – and have access to everything in it – but only download the data they need to get up and running again.

For those readers who are not into enterprise storage, the technology has similarities to both Data Domain and 3PAR.  All the data in the system is deduplicated like Data Domain systems do, and all the small pieces of the data are presented as live online data the way 3PAR does.  It’s small grained storage virtualization that includes both deduplication and cloud storage.

There is no special hardware required to do this. StorSimple has built systems that have a certain blend of SSDs and hard disks in order to meet certain performance expectations. While there are many exciting opportunities to further leverage our technology in the days ahead, for now we are enjoying the news and looking forward to the excitement of suddenly becoming much more visible and important to a lot of potential customers.