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Monday, February 6, 2012

So after the 1st month of my new role it feels like my feet haven't touched the ground.  Everyday yet another IBM team brings me into a situation where their client is looking to re-evaluate their mainfame as increasingly they are seeing the industry turn towards appliance like architectures and hybrid computing platforms.

The market in my humble opinion, at least at the enterprise layer, is consolidating to a very small number of players, who more and more are able to offer the complete 'stack'.  For those of you below 40 (like me, just) look up 'stack' in your GCSE computer studies textbook and then look at how similar this is to the propositions from Oracle and IBM. Are we moving towards a new BUNCH obviously with IBM?

The industry is consolidating down to 2 players with vertical stacks:

  • IBM
  • Oracle/Sun

And then HP and Dell, with the likes of EMC/VM Ware as other key players.

For years now customers have been telling me that running key applications is too complicated, and if you have ever tried to size a SAP architecture this will resonate with you.

Key questions such as:

  • How do you size the database layer
  • What networking infratructure does this environment need
  • How do I back-up the data this environment produces
  • How do I architect this environment for HA and DR

All of these topics could quite easily be the subject of a whole day scoping workshop, and believe me I have sat through a fair few...

No wonder then that customers are crying out for platforms that collapse this infrastructure into a simple easy to manage, easy to provision easy to... either as a private cloud, appliance or hybrid system.

Parking Cloud for a moment, lets compare Appliances Vs Hybrid systems.  An appliance to my simple mind is a vertically integrated solution that delivers a plug and play experience for a single application.  Terradata have for years existed in this space and Oracle are positioning Exalogic and Exadata in this space.  IBM has some offerings planned but they are futures. However these devices are single purpose at best.

If you are looking for a general purpose, tightly integrated, highly scalable, secure system, then it is a very short list of players in the market.  You could argue that HP with it's Non-Stop servers has these qualities but I would argue these are in the main single purpose servers, supporting one mission critical app.  The UNIX space whilst still critical, is a declining market year on year, and these systems are still in the main single app, although I have seen a UNIX cloud recently, this is not the norm...

So Hybrid computing... as we move towards Cloud as the default platform for service delivery be that Private, Hybrid or Public the requirement for multi-purpose architectures increases.  When you look at the definition of cloud you can see the intrinsic linkage to Hybrid platforms, take a look for instance at:

When you review this definition, you see that the need to deliver a service based on a scalable, visualized, easy to provision architecture predicates a simplified architecture, where compute resources are easy to manage and appliance-like.  However if you focus on Private cloud then an IT organization needs to deliver multiple options to the business for application deployment, ideally on one simplified architecture.  I have seen the trend over the last 5-years to build platforms on x86 and then offer these as Private clouds, but the downside of this approach is the 'closed' nature of the o/s support, not everything runs under Windows.  Multiple o/s exist for a reason, each has its pros and cons for certain types of workloads, so ideally you need a system that can support the four major o/s (Windows, UNIX, Linux and z/OS), is massively scalable, secure, virtualized, is charged for based on utilization (ideally monthly) and has a strong heritage for governance and best practice...

Subtle hint if you are still guessing:

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