Dell 3.0 Takes Center Stage at DEW

Austin, Texas:  The critical question arising from the inaugural Dell EMC World event — at least for me, an IBM, HP/E and Dell/EMC/VMware investor — is what makes Dell’s prospects any brighter than those of its two main competitors, IBM and HPE, and the trio of enterprise vendors offering more limited portfolios — Cisco, Oracle and Lenovo? IBM has seen its sales shrink for the last 17 quarters, HPE is just shrinking, and the other contenders can only offer partial solutions — predominantly networking and datacenter servers, DBMS software and appliances, and devices, respectively. From its humble roots in Michael Dell’s college dorm room, the company has scaled the PC heights, added servers, storage, software, networking, security and services and, with the completion of the EMC acquisition, is now grappling with the IT industry’s largest acquisition and largest debt load. It has also added significant resources in enterprise storage (disk, flash and software-defined), virtualization (VMware), cloud (Virtustream, Pivotal and ECS), networking (SDN/NSX), all-in-one appliances (VCE) and security (RSA). Of course there is a lot of overlap too, and while the combined companies may point out the differences, many others will be concerned about the similarities. We’ve already seen signs of tighter focus — i.e. the sales of the enterprise content division, services and software units, and the (lower-than-expected) SecureWorks IPO — and the first workforce reductions, 2,000-3,000 jobs are expected to be cut, out of 140,000. On the good (?) news front, Dell moved into top spot in server shipments for the most recent quarter, while HPE held on to top spot in revenues; shipments grew 2% year-over-year, while revenues edged 0.8% lower. Even better, EMC was named a leader in integrated systems, and the acquisition should strengthen that position, although Gartner cautions that uncertainty will plague the new Dell-EMC-VMware combination that brings ‘multiple overlapping and competing integrated system strategies under one roof.’ The results were equally ambivalent for enterprise storage, where revenue was flat while shipped capacities shot up 12.9%; EMC tied for first place with HPE ($1.6 billion each) while Dell came in third place with a revenue increase of 14%, up to $1 billion. Prior to the acquisition EMC was pushing a software-defined everything strategy, and it’s unlikely that focus will change under new ownership. The current evolution of IT is offering customers a couple of choices in pursuit of shrinking data centers, lower CAPEX and OPEX and the ability to leverage the cloud: some form of do it yourself versus an all-in-one solution, and hardware versus software lock-in (and that at the end of the day, there’s no getting away from software lock-in), Manuvir Das,...

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IBM Keeps a Sharp Storage Edge

IBM Edge is the company’s annual systems conference with a focus on servers (namely z Systems and POWER) and storage solutions. As you well know, such a conference is an immersive experience with the overwhelming amount of information that is presented within a few days. As an industry analyst with a strong focus on storage, I welcome the deluge, although sorting out what it all means can take some time. Still, here are some summary thoughts that I hope you will find of value. Obviously, conferences like Edge stress new product announcements, but they also highlight the host company’s vision. Although some think that is unnecessary or impractical (note the George W. Bush “vision thing”), a company vision is both necessary and practical, as it commits the time of its people and its money for continued product development. A sense of balance is necessary between being the leading edge (where things are advanced and innovative, but are likely to be adopted over time) and the bleeding edge (which is often too far ahead of its time and likely to be too high risk for many vendors). As its 100 plus years have shown, IBM has basically been successful at the leading edge and Edge 2016 suggests this state of affairs continues. NOTE: This column was originally published in the Pund-IT Review. For more information, EMAIL...

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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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My 30 Years At EMC, Sort Of……

I went there in 1986. I knew they would never make it, so I left in 1989. I am still not sure what was more important to the company’s meteoric rise to greatness, me leaving or Mike Ruettgers coming in. (Mike was the guy brought in to ensure that the stuff we built and sold actually worked.) It’s been a stunningly awesome success story that could have derailed many times along the way, but took every beating that came along (whether self-imposed or not) and came out stronger. Many times people wrote them off. Every time they were wrong. I have a thousand stories.  Here are just a few of the thoughts off the top of my head. To read the complete article, CLICK...

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Data Protection: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
Jun29

Data Protection: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

’The Good, The Bad and The Ugly’ was Clint Eastwood’ last and best spaghetti western, and it’s also a very popular description of the cybersecurity industry, to which I will now shamelessly expropriate to describe the findings from EMC’s new global enterprise backup survey, ‘Are You Protected?’. Similar to virtually every other security study I see, the survey reports improvements in some areas, some problems in other areas, and the usual plug for new solutions that will make you more secure, less vulnerable or more likely fall somewhere in between. The survey results are very topical, said Peter Smails, VP, Marketing, Core Technologies, EMC. It also gives the company, which will soon become part of Dell, an opportunity “to talk about everything we’re doing to address those challenges.” While I found it interesting that this conversation was held with EMC, and not RSA, it’s security business, Smails told IT Trends & Analysis who better to address data protection than the company that stores most of that data. The key findings of the survey of IT decision makers at 2,200 organizations included: -incidents of traditional data loss and disruption are down since 2014, but new challenges mean 13% more businesses experienced loss overall; -over half of businesses fail to protect data in the cloud despite more than 80% indicating they will rely on SaaS-based business applications; -36% have lost data in the last year as the result of a security breach; -73% are not very confident they can protect flash storage environments; and, -the average cost of data loss is more than $914,000. People are getting smarter about data protection, said Smails, but they continue to experience data loss. “You need to be vigilant. The world is evolving quickly.” According to a new RSA survey, 75% of survey respondents have a significant cybersecurity risk exposure, and nearly half characterized essential Incident Response (IR) capabilities as ‘ad hoc’ or ‘non-existent’. “We need to change the way we are thinking about security, to focus on more than just prevention – to develop a strategy that emphasizes detection and response,” stated RSA President Amit Yoran. As noted in Sea Of Alarms, one of cybersecurity’s biggest problems isn’t finding a problem, but rather finding and dealing with the most pressing problem. According to a recent survey, nearly 74% of those surveyed reported that security events/alerts are simply ignored because their teams can’t keep up with the suffocating volume. Then there was the new ‘new’ study I just received which identified complext IT security as a growing problem. According to security vendor IS Decisions’ survey of 250 US organizations, on average each employee loses 21.88...

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