CIOs ask: "Who are the ViB?"

I've recently been inundated with a number of sporadic emails from a certain account named ViB. While I initially thought it was some kind of hoax I started to realise that this was a serious account as I was being sent exclusive information and industry tidbits specifically around how VCE's Vblock was enabling significant OPEX savings for customers as well as empowering CIOs to rapidly enable business transformation.

Amongst these interesting insights I was also sent a number of photos of cars with rather interesting number plates - see below:

ViB - vehicle 1
ViB - vehicle 2
ViB - vehicle 3

While none of this was really making any sense, it was this morning when I received a link to a new 40 second clip (see below) from the ViB where I was assured things would become clearer.

If anything what does seem to be clearer is that the ViB is most likely an acronym for "vArchitect in Black". Apart from this the 40 second teaser trailer seems to throw up more questions than answers!

- Are the ViB a new specialist team within VCE?
- Is this teaser trailer a precursor to a new documentary or feature film from VCE?
- Is this just a marketing stunt or hoax?
- Is this the precursor to another new product launch from VCE?
- Does this in fact have anything to do with VCE?
- Why are CIOs looking to VCE's Vblock as a solution to their problems and more specifically the ViB?

I'll leave you to decide by watching the clip yourself below and of course update you if and when I receive further information and clarification.

IT Infrastructure Debate in the Sunday Telegraph Newspaper

I was recently asked to take part in a debate for the Sunday Telegraph newspaper on the subject of "How will IT infrastructure evolve?". In case you missed it, it's now available online at:

...and for your convenience below. 
N.B. I have no idea who that picture is of, he doesn't even have my white hair or glasses (-;

The debate: How will IT infrastructure evolve?

I expect to see continued exponential growth in the use and emulation of internet data centres; the likes of Amazon, Rackspace, Memset or Google that have tightly packed racks, operating at very high efficiencies, running cloud computing services.The key difference in approach will be the widespread adoption of commodity hardware to deliver enterprise quality services by moving intelligence into software. Examples include distributed applications running on virtual machines, many cheap nodes crunching big data and more object storage and non-relational databases.Storage is especially exciting. I believe the days of “big iron” vendors, RAID5/6 and tape are numbered. Our enormously resilient, distributed storage system using commodity tin costs us less than £20 a terabyte per month. By layering media types, such as SATA disks, SSDs and DRAM, and mobilising tools including Automated Intelligence’s Datapoint, you can have your cake – cheap storage with low latency for critical data – and eat it.
Kate Craig-Wood
Managing director, Memset

A CIO’s infrastructure decisions will focus more on leading the business rather than simply aligning with it. Technologies such as unified communications, virtualisation and cloud computing will be further adopted to gain a competitive advantage while security and risk concerns have to be mitigated.  This requires an agile and flexible IT model that is shackled by traditional infrastructure and has left IT departments struggling with daily firefighting exercises. To ensure success, IT admin will need a new breed of infrastructure that enables them to focus on delivering, optimising and managing the application while not needing to worry about the infrastructure that supports them. Consequently the benefits offered by standardised, pre-integrated and pre-validated converged infrastructures will gain even more traction in the industry. This will not only present a dramatic paradigm shift in IT infrastructure but also the way IT is approached, managed, deployed and viewed by the application owners and business it supports. 
Archie Hendryx
vArchitect  EMEA, VCE

There can be no questioning that big data is a disruptive market force. The massive influx of data that’s impacting upon organisations of all shapes and sizes means that traditional IT infrastructure is becoming increasingly obsolete. Big data is the intensive analysis of large, complex, disparate or unstructured data sets to get actionable results in real-time. For many, to do this with an on-premise infrastructure will almost certainly lead to failure as few boast the necessary servers or computer clusters. Simply put, to execute big data analytics you need the suitable infrastructure to underpin it. Organisations need a massive amount of computing power to take all their data, wherever it’s stored, and analyse it for valuable insights. For most people at least, this leaves cloud computing as the most attractive option.  Being able to gain access to potentially limitless scalability through Infrastructure-as-a-Service via the cloud makes big data a possibility for one and all. As such, the evolution of IT infrastructure seems likely to be moving towards outsourcing.
Dominic Pollard
Editor, Nimbus Ninety 

Why it's Pivotal EMC & VMware refuse to PaaS up the opportunity

If you were to ask EMC or VMware whom they consider their major threat and competition you’d be easily forgiven for being mistaken to think it was NetApp, HP or offerings such as Hyper-V. With many terming us to now be in the third era of corporate computing, with mainframe and the client/server being the first two, the current cloud era has undoubtedly been spearheaded by the likes of Google, Amazon and Facebook. It is here where EMC and VMware face their biggest challenge of remaining relevant and cutting edge in a market that demands automation, simplicity and speed of deployment. Despite major marketing campaigns of “Big Data” and “Clouds” that have seen airports littered with exorbitant amounts of posters and adverts, as well as numerous acquisitions of various companies that have extended already huge product portfolios, both EMC and VMware have struggled to release themselves from the shackles of being deemed just a Storage and Hypervisor company. So in light of this it’s no surprise to see both companies spin off a new and independent venture that will address this very challenge, namely the Pivotal Initiative.

With a promise of $400 million in investments and a 69 / 31 % split in ownership between EMC and VMware respectively, the Pivotal Initiative will be headed by none other than VMware’s ex-CEO Paul Maritz. At the time his stepping down from that position raised a few eyebrows and questions as to whether he was being demoted, prepped for early retirement or was just being pushed to make way for VMware’s current CEO, Pat Gelsinger. In hindsight one could easily see this now as a move that maybe Maritz himself initiated from his own recognition that VMware as a company was failing to transition yet alone be recognized as a PaaS organisation.

Maritz like most in the industry would have recognised that with ever increasing data sets and ever increasing scale, the need for automation, rapid application development and deployment is quickly breaking beyond the capabilities of traditional man managed infrastructures that have previously been offered by EMC and VMware.  Moreover both VMware and EMC know it’s all about applications and specifically big data applications. For VMware and EMC to succeed in having the de facto platform of the IT industry, it’s key they win the war to host these new and integral applications. To address this EMC and VMware went about acquiring just about every relevant start up or product that could possibly address this challenge from GemStone, GreenPlum to SpringSource. Despite this huge purchasing spree and VMware’s push to develop vFabric and create the PaaS initiative Cloud Foundry both EMC and VMware have struggled to gain market recognition as true Cloud and PaaS players.

One of the key aspects challenging EMC and VMware’s recognition as a Cloud and PaaS offering has ironically been the very thing they drove to try and solve it i.e. the incredible rate of acquisitions and consequent increase in product portfolios. With sales and presales teams that had been accustomed for years to successfully pitching and selling storage arrays and hypervisor licenses, the demand on them was now to understand new and alien concepts of Big Data analytics, PaaS, application development, SaaS etc and also address a customer base they were not accustomed to. Now by having Maritz head up a brand new and independent company that can essentially take the appropriate products from those portfolios, the opportunity is to establish brand new and focused sales, technical and post sales teams that understand applications, big data etc. as well as have the right level of existing relations within their potential client base.

So what is the Pivotal Initiative actually bringing new to the table in terms of products? Well not much actually. In fact what it does bring is a much needed cohesion between what have now been a multitude of disparate acquisitions and products that have failed to gain the market share their technical and business benefits certainly deserve.

Firstly there’s the platform that will be based on EMC’s Greenplum appliance integrated with Pivotal HD, the data querying system that works with Hadoop. The Greenplum appliance is based on the open source PostgreSQL, which is a full ANSI-standard relational database system and has performance benchmarks with Hadoop’s parallel system that are already impressive. With the soon to be released Pivotal HD product from the Pivotal Labs group, the aim is to conduct even more queries against even larger data sets.

Pivotal Initiative: The products may look familiar but only this time there's cohesion and focus 
From a VMware perspective, there’s the inclusion of Gemfire to serve as the caching layer with its capability of quickly ingesting events via its in-memory data management system. Then there’s Cetas that provides rapid analytics atop the Hadoop platform and is designed for the elasticity of virtual resources with specific focus on not only vSphere but also Amazon Web Services. Additionally and most interestingly is the addition of the Cloud Foundry PaaS, which was initially built to run on VMware’s proprietary system. This time it comes with the promise that it will be an abstraction layer with application automation for cross clouds enabling Pivotal to be hosted on the likes of Amazon Web Services' EC2. Coupling this with SpringSource’s Java application development framework to enable integration with legacy data sources and applications and the Pivotal Labs’ ability for facilitating rapid coding, the objective is a focused approach and aim at the jugular of online and enterprise analytics.

The Pivotal Initiative will aim to deliver the market a data analysis platform capable of capturing large volumes of data, quickly addressing and querying it and then producing near real time answers that can be stored in a large scale-out storage system. It would be naïve to think this is an initiative aimed just at existing VMware customers. This is an attempt to not only enter but also become relevant in the software led infrastructure arena that competes with the likes of Amazon.

In essence the Pivotal Initiative is a brave yet necessary move from both EMC and VMware to embrace the challenge of change as the legacy of traditional infrastructure faces the daunting prospect of new software paradigms. Whether the Pivotal Initiative can be successful and achieve it’s $1bn rate in its projected five years depends on a number of factors. One thing is certain is that the first challenge to remaining relevant in the IT industry is to acknowledge and adapt to change. The masters behind the Pivotal Initiative have already achieved that.