HPE: Smaller Is Better
Nov09

HPE: Smaller Is Better

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) has been pushing a smaller-is-better strategy for the last few years, spinning off PCs and printers, services and software, and now it looks like it’s applied that strategy to its mission-critical server line. Superdome Flex, the follow-up to Superdome X, the server family that started the company’s RISC-averse transition from Itanium to Xeon, opens up a $6-8 billion market that HPE wasn’t able to address effectively, HPE’s Randy Meyer, VP & GM, Mission Critical Systems, told IT Trends & Analysis. When it comes to the mission-critical x86 server market, driven by database, Oracle and SAP HANA applications moving from Unix to Linux, there were only a couple of choices, he said. While the up-to-16-socket Superdome X does the job well, the problem was at the bottom with 4-socket entry-level systems, especially for customers who knew they were going to eventually need more sockets. “In the Superdome X form factor, you paid a lot for the infrastructure.” With Flex, HPE went modular, making it much easier — and affordable — for customers to grow from 4 sockets all the way up to 32. “All of a sudden you have customers saying this is really cool.” Meyer believes this will open up a “huge chunk” of the market, and the ability to scale up and down will appeal to large customers, as well as the previously untapped midmarket. Following a couple of slow quarters, server revenues climbed 6.3% year over year to $15.7 billion in the second quarter of 2017, while midrange server revenue shot up 19.6% to $1.5 billion, and demand for high-end systems tumbled 18.9% to $1.3 billion, according to IDC. HPE held on to top spot (21.3% of the market), but revenues slid 8.4% YoY to $3.3 billion, while second-place Dell (17.7%) posted 7% YoY revenue growth. x86 server demand increased 10.4% to $14.3 billion, while non-x86 servers declined 21.5% to $1.5 billion. “Demand for two-socket form factors continues to control a majority of unit shipments now and going forward as they are the sweet spot for density-optimized servers which are used in datacenters,” said IDC’s Lloyd Cohen, director of Worldwide Market Analysis, Computing Platforms. Gartner’s server numbers were lower: 2.8% YoY revenue growth to $13.9 billion, and a 9.4% marketshare decline for HPE. RISC/Itanium Unix servers plummeted 21.4% in shipments and 24.9% in vendor revenue, which at least did better than the ‘other’ CPU category, which is primarily mainframes, down a whopping 29.5% in revenue (and that’s after an infrequent IBM z Series refresh). HPE reported significantly better results for high-performance computing. For its latest quarter the company said revenue from the HPC...

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IBM DB2 Direct vs. Oracle: Innovation Is the Best Revenge

The tech industry has long promoted the concept and value of “co-opetition” – a process in which even viciously competing vendors can, in some areas, willingly cooperate in mutually beneficial ways. There are countless examples where the co-opetition dynamic works as advertised, some of them going back for decades. For example, system vendors that develop their own networking switches, including Dell, HP and IBM also sell Brocade, Cisco and/or Juniper solutions. Similarly, though most major server vendors have their own in-house storage systems, they also support offerings from storage specialists, including EMC, HDS, NetApp and many others. That doesn’t mean that co-opetition partners don’t occasionally get on the wrong side of one another. For example, Cisco’s decision to launch its own Unified Computing System (UCS) servers in 2009 rubbed many of its system vendor partners the wrong way. Then again, Cisco got some of its own back when strategic partner (and then-fellow VCE co-owner) VMware bought Nicera in 2012 to get a leg up in software-defined networking. To read the complete article, CLICK HERE NOTE: This column was originally published in the Pund-IT...

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IBM Goes to War with Oracle…

We often talk about current rivalries like Google vs. Apple vs. Microsoft, but these pale next to some of the wars that have gone back decades. Granted the Sun vs. IBM war is long over and—surprisingly—IBM won. In fact, IBM has only lost one big battle historically, and that was against software company Microsoft. But another war that likely sets the record for length and resources is the one between IBM and Oracle—which many of us largely forgot about until recently. Well, apparently, IBM didn’t forget and I’m sure Oracle has been reminded of this fight because IBM just went after Oracle with guns blazing and it is an impressive effort. I’ve received feedback from some of the customers that have recently migrated from Oracle’s offerings to IBM and they appear to be singing IBM’s praises. For me, this is interesting because one of the frustrations I had when I worked at IBM was that IBM seemed to be afraid to take the gloves off, and ended up being the punching bag more often than not. As an employee working for a firm that refused to take the fight to a competitor wasn’t exactly a morale booster. So, it is great to see the firm finally take the gloves off with Oracle. Let’s talk about that this week. For more information, CLICK HERE NOTE: This column was originally published in the Pund-IT...

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Oracle Removes the Line Between Cloud & On-premises Storage

So Oracle just announced the new 8.7 version of the OS that powers its ZFS storage systems; I try to avoid writing about specific product news too often in this blog because a) you can get product news elsewhere and b) product news is usually just iterative and rarely does it contain that much deeper industry insight. But stick with me here, as this does get way more interesting than the move from version 8.6 to version 8.7 might suggest. To give a “you are here” starting point, the ZFS platform has been improving for years now and is a storage system to be reckoned with – its lickety-spit speed just got further enhanced with added flash pools and its tight integration with all-things-Oracle makes databases and apps verily sing. While the meatier part of the news is pretty well conveyed in the new moniker Oracle is using for its offering – “Cloud Converged Storage” – even that doesn’t quite do justice to the required-data-revolution-made-manifest that is represented here. To read the complete article, CLICK...

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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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