Reflections on a Flickering SPARC

A report last Friday in the San Jose Mercury News that Oracle was laying off 450 workers in its hardware division suggests that the proprietary silicon experiment the company began with its 2010 acquisition of Sun Microsoft is nearing the end. It’s sensible from a financial point of view, especially for a company like Oracle that is demanding when it comes to business unit performance. In its most recent quarter (Q2 FY2017) Oracle reported that sales of hardware products (servers, etc.) were down -13% to $497M for the quarter, and down -16% in the previous six months to $959M. The company has also suffered double digit sales declines during the past five quarters. Additionally, Oracle’s server business has long been absent from the upper “Top 5” reaches of the server market, and thus relegated to the “Others” category in market sizing studies by IDC and Gartner. You could say that its faltering results suggest that Oracle either didn’t deliver on or wasn’t especially serious about its promises to Sun hardware customers. Considering the strategy espoused by Oracle executives—focusing mainly on engineered/integrated systems and database appliances—the latter interpretation is closer to being correct. High-end solutions certainly have their place at Oracle, especially in applications where optimizing performance of the company’s core database solutions is concerned. But with sales of traditional Unix-based systems, including Oracle’s SPARC/Solaris servers, under continuous pressure, the company needed and yet failed to do considerably more. To read the complete article, CLICK HERE NOTE: This column was originally published in the Pund-IT...

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Dell EMC: Convergence Is Reshaping The Datacenter
Jan26

Dell EMC: Convergence Is Reshaping The Datacenter

Trey Layton says the future of the datacenter is all about convergence and while he congratulated HPE for last week’s SimpliVity acquisition, he didn’t appear too optimistic about its prospects for success in the still small but rapidly expanding hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) subsegment. “As related to Simplivity, we rarely see them in a deal… we don’t see them when it comes down to evaluation and comparison”, said the CTO of Dell EMC’s Converged Platforms & Solutions Division (CPSD), the group currently sitting atop the integrated infrastructure market, which includes HCI. As the world rushes to all-digital, all-the-time, somewhere there is a datacenter powering all that software making DX possible. While numbers of the overall market are sketchy, a slew of recent surveys reinforce the growing need for datacenters of all sizes: -the global datacenter market will grow at a CAGR of 10.72% during the period 2016-2020; -the modular and containerized datacenter market will grow at a 12% CAGR between 2017-2021; -the mini datacenter — a self-contained system designed to be from a single rack (micro datacenter) to up to 40 rack enclosure (containerized and aisle containment solution) — market will grow at a CAGR of 17.17% during the period 2017-2021; and, -the hyperscale datacenter market — also called cloud 2.0 — will explode 4100% between 2016-2023, from $869.7 million in 2016 to $359.7 billion in 2023. Increasingly, these datacenters are turning to integrated, or converged solutions that IDC breaks down into four segments: -integrated infrastructure and certified reference systems are pre-integrated, vendor-certified systems containing server hardware, disk storage systems, networking equipment, and basic element/systems management software; -integrated platforms are integrated systems that are sold with additional pre-integrated packaged software and customized system engineering optimized to enable such functions as application development software, databases, testing, and integration tools; and, -hyperconverged (AKA hyperconverged infrastructure or HCI) systems collapse core storage and compute functionality into a single, highly virtualized solution; a key differentiator of hyperconverged systems is their ability to provide all compute and storage functions through the same server-based resources. Not liking to play well with others, Gartner prefers to label HCI as hyperconverged integrated systems (HCIS). However, whether HCI or HCIS, this segment is still relatively small: hyperconverged sales grew 104.3% year over year during Q3, generating $570.5 million worth of sales, or 22% of the total converged market, according to IDC. It will account for just 24% of the integrated systems market by 2019, but it will reach ‘mainstream use’ and is expected to be worth close to $5 billion, stated Gartner. According to the latest available numbers (Q3), the combined integrated infrastructure and certified reference systems market accounted...

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Oracle ZS5 Is Foundational for Oracle’s Data Cloud Future

At the risk of stating the blindingly obvious, we live in interesting times, not just for IT itself, but for the IT vendor ecosystem too. There’s divestitures, (re)spin-outs, and corporate combinations going on all over the place—think of HPE, Veritas and Dell/EMC respectively as some recent notable examples. Then there’s the cloud-focused crowd, and the on-prem-focused crowd…indeed, this can often be different product offerings from the same vendor. And then we have Oracle, not for the first time, marching to its own tune. And it could well be mellifluous for many. So, to start at the beginning: Just yesterday Oracle launched the 5th generation of its ZFS Storage Appliance, logically-if-unexcitingly called ZS5! As products go, it’s certainly impressive…up to 307 TB of flash cache (there’s also a version with up to 1.5 TB of DRAM) to support up to 9 PB of capacity, which means some real “oomph” on performance, including for the often-overlooked restore capabilities. And of course it comes with all the strength—whether that means resilience or completeness of advanced functions—that one might (un)reasonably expect. But I’m convinced the product itself is not the real story here: The “tune” that Oracle is composing is a whole orchestral symphony, not a concerto or a piece for, say, just a string quartet or solo instrument. What do I mean by this analogy, and why is this seemingly-good-but-straightforward storage product from Oracle part of a greater IT whole? To read the complete article, CLICK...

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BMC & Random Acts of Insight

LAS VEGAS: I got to speak to a number of people at last week’s BMC Engage 2016 Global User Conference, including a number of BMC Software execs who made a number of interesting comments that haven’t appeared in any of my stories yet. Here are a few colorful quotes in my Random Acts of Insight: BMC Paul Appleby Executive Vice President, Worldwide Sales and Marketing, BMC: “The past couple of years we’ve doubled the number of new products we’re bringing to market.” Bill Berutti, President, Performance & Analytics and Cloud Management/Data center Automation, BMC: “The timeliness of us going private was fortunate… the digital revolution is happening in every company… disrupt or be disrupted… At the same time IT budgets are not going up. And by the way, the world is changing really, really fast.” “We’re now getting more relevant to the business.” Jason Andrew, GP and VP, BMC:  “We’ve added 900 new customers in the last 12 months.” “If you want growth you want new customers and don’t lose existing customers… we’re winning marketshare… and we’re changing what the addressable market is.” Sean Hinton, Area Director, Canada, BMC:  “It’s all about business outcomes and trying to engage with our customers that way.” “Engagement, user experience… that’s what it’s all about.” Big Iron (aka Mainframe) BMC Chairman and CEO Bob Beauchamp: “I think it is a competitive advantage that 25% of our business is mainframe.” John McKenny, VP Marketing and Customer Support of ZSolutions, BMC: “We’ve added amost a hundred customers… for MLC.” “IBM has very complex pricing… and most folks really stlruggle with what makes up that bill every month.” Security Robin Purohit Group President, Enterprise Solutions Organization, BMC:  “Security is the number one thing thing that can disrupt digital transformation.” DevOps Beauchamp: “By the way you’re all software companies. Congratulations!” Purohit: “The developer is king as you go digital.” Digitalization Beauchamp: “Go digital or go extinct…” “98% of digital data was created in the last two years. That will be true again next year.” DISCLAIMER: BMC looked after airfare and hotel....

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BMC: Go Digital or Go Extinct

LAS VEGAS: My primary objective for attending management software vendor BMC Software’s third annual customer/partner event, BMC Engage 2016 Global User Conference — other than its Sin City venue — was to try and understand how a 36-year-old ISV that got its start in the mainframe business (and which still accounts for 25% of its revenue, although packaged as a separate business) can reposition itself as a leader in digital transformation (DX). Even with more than 10,000 customers, including 82% of the Fortune 500, and around $2 billion in annual revenues (estimated, since it’s been private since 2013) that’s a seemingly outrageous claim to make, the old proverbial tail wagging the dog. If a quarter of BMC’s revenues are still based on Big Iron, the other 75% represents a broader set of tools for the rest of the market, including another 25% of its revenues coming from ITSM, or ITSSM as Gartner calls it, and who just crowned BMC (21.3% market share), along with ServiceNow (34.4%), as the two leaders in this segment, valued at $2.2 billion in 2015, in its Magic Quadrant for IT Service Support Management Tools. An interesting sidenote to this is that a few months ago ServiceNow announced that it had entered into a covenant not to sue for patent infringement with BMC for a term and took aggregate charges of $270 million for litigation settlement expenses related to its litigation associated with BMC and Hewlett Packard Enterprise. ServiceNow had been accused by BMC of infringing on eleven of the patents in its portfolio, and BMC has also filed similar additional suits against ServiceNow in the U.S. and Germany. Fast forward, and BMC Engage had the (mis)fortune of taking place while a number of mega-deals were transforming the IT industry’s biggest players: Dell completed its EMC acquisition in the industry’s biggest merger; HPE spun off another piece to become a $28B entity, a mere shadow of its glory days of a few years ago when bigger was best, revenues over $100B annually, not bust (although it still owns sizeable shares of both its services and software spin/mergers); and Intel finally accepted that trying to successfully run  a security business was anything but complementary to its chip core. BMC’s message has been that businesses must digitize to survive, and it can help them do so. While that might sound strange, given its history and current size, the company has been thriving, in a more modest way than its much bigger newsmakers. The message that the world is changing and business must change with it is hardly new or profound, but the underlying reality is that the...

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