Monthly Archives: June 2011

Has Apple changed the Web?

By Clive Gold, CTO Marketing, EMC Australia and New Zealand

Safari has become my browser of choice, what is the reason?
Reader. If you are not familiar with this new feature, it collates all of an article
into one reader page. It strips out all the ‘distractions’, gets all the pages and presents them as one clean easy to digest piece!

So simple yet so powerful, no more page clicks, pop-ups, surprise video or audio content, no colour and movement in your peripheral vision to distract from the core article you are reading. In addition, Apple is saying that with iOS5, when you bookmark the reader page, the bookmark is automatically sync’ed to all your devices.  So when you leave home, you carry on reading on your iPhone, then on the train switch to the iPad and finally finish on your desktop machine… all with no distractions. Who wouldn’t want to use this?

Now here is what I’ve realised. I think those ‘distractions’ contribute a great deal to the value of the ‘traditional web’ companies, i.e. how much of Google’s $160billion market cap are because of those things that ‘reader’ now removes? The current economic model for the net is basically impressions and click throughs, no impressions and no way to click.. so no more advertising? If there is not going to be advertising on the web, then we will need to move to a user-pays model across the board! Anyone see that happening?

Perhaps not, so the alternative is that the advertising revenue is moving from the page to the edge-device. As the world moves away from the browser is everything to the app based end-user experience. So the financial model that the web survives on has to change as well, and it has begun.. download any ‘free’ app today and you are more than likely bombarded with adverts.

So maybe now I understand better why the big players like Microsoft and Google are working so hard to capture a share of the end-user device market. This is the new battleground for the advertising dollar. Well perhaps when Steve Jobs said in his recent keynote that they were demoting the desktop/laptop, we quite didn’t realise the extent of this demotion!

IDC Cloud Briefing, Cloud in 2015

By Clive Gold, CTO Marketing, EMC Australia and New Zealand

It has been an IDC week for me. First the Digital Universe study, (here), even a radio interview with Andy Wells, (here), and then an IDC Cloud briefing. Very interesting stuff and IDC put two new terms into my vernacular, vPC and  socialytic.

First was a discussion about the buying trends of customer’s w.r.t the various ‘cloud’ offerings. Chris Morris, Research Director at IDC’s Asia/Pacific Practice Group, immediately got my attention when he said that he expected the term ‘Cloud’ to disappear to be replaced by out-sourcing 3.0, a new set of sourcing models. Yes, may not agree with the name, but you have to agree with the point! He pointed out that the largest market share growth will be from virtual private clouds or vPC, and then went on to describe a vPC. It is what EMC has been working on with the leading providers like; Telstra, Optus, Macquarie Telecom, CSC, MelbourneIT, Enspire, etc. That is the delivery of enterprise class, off-premise, flexible, infrastructure as a service. Sounded to me like the demand is for something that : ‘Looks like mine, you run it and I pay for what I use.’  This model overcomes the risks of the public cloud, (apparent from recent incidents), but still provides the economic and flexibility benefits. In-fact IDC sees that the
percentage of the market that the Public Cloud offerings have will decrease over the next five years. He also highlighted the fact that a number of the CIO’s he talks to are concerned about, “cloud vendor churn”.

The other point that Chris made that you might be interested in, is that the ‘power’ of the market is shifting from consumers to service providers. Many vendors like EMC have established service provider programmes and have changed their go to market models to cater for their needs. Vendors slow to adopt the new licencing and consumption pricing are at risk. I guess some ISV’s
who still think, “there is a licence fee in that” are in for a surprise and maybe this explains recent moves in share prices and profit downgrades.

The second part was more thought provoking and less statistically based and gave rise to the Socialytic app. But I don’t have space to describe that here… next time.

Is the Australian Digital Universe keeping up with the world?

By clive Gold, CTO marketing, EMC Australia and New Zealand.

For the fifth year in a row IDC has released their count of the Digital Universe.  You might not be aware but this is actually the sixth survey, the first one was done by UC Berkley in 2003. The finding at that time was…

Print, film, magnetic, and optical storage media produced about 5
exabytes of new information in 2002. Ninety-two percent of the new information was stored on magnetic media, mostly in hard disks.”

Consider that against the current expectation that the world will generate and move 1.8Zetabytes in 2011. Also interesting is that in 2006, just four years later it was estimated that Google had an Exabyte of information.

The other headline that caught my eye is that IDC estimates that the cost of creating, capturing, managing and storing this information is one sixth of the 2005 cost. IDC also coins the term “information taming”, which is kind of cute, isn’t it?

Now for the other big number, since 2005 they estimate that the investment in the digital universe increased 50% to $4 trillion USD.  I think as an industry we could be proud of this, to have the cost rise just 50% at the same time as the volume has grown from 150Exabytes to 1.8Zetabytes! How many other industries can show a productivity improvement of about six times in six years?

Now for the bad news, you ain’t seen nothing yet!  By 2020 IDC is predicting 10x more servers, 50x data growth, 75x growth in the number of objects. This last one is the scare piece as for traditional file systems the object limits are being stretched, that is why we are seeing the rise of ‘cloud optimised storage’ such as EMC Atmos.

So the big question for us in ANZ is, “are we growing as fast?”  Well IDC does count the market and release quarterly figures on the amount of storage that has been sold.  Well if I compare the amount of disk sold world wide in 2006 vs 2010 it shows that ANZ is growing 15% faster than the world! So if we assume that ANZ is on par with adopting new technologies such as compression, data deduplication etc, we can say that we are contributing more than our fair share to this universe.

Wow I think I need a coffee to digest all this.. and maybe my son ripping all his DVD’s into 1GB files is really not that bad..

Are Backups Dead?

By Clive Gold, CTO Marketing, EMC Australia and New Zealand.

So do you think the cry of “Make Backups a Snap!” is still a good idea?

I have been bemused for a while now, as to why end users think that the way to solve the perennial backup problem is to simply stop doing them!  It’s kind of like making a car lighter by removing all the safety features; no re-enforcing, no crumple zones, no airbags, etc..  I’m sure it will be quicker and consume less fuel,  but do you really want to be traveling in the car at high speed?

Well the crash just happened if what I read, here, is correct it indicates that their backup method was snapshots. So when they were hacked and their drives destroyed, they lost both their primary and their snaps. There has been a flurry of tweets about why they did not have an offsite copy of the data. Which I’m not sure is the issue here. To me the real issue here is why they did not have a point in time copy, that was not reliant on their primary storage.
Don’t get me wrong, snaps and clones are very useful operational tools and their use-cases are only limited by your imagination. However I don’t believe backup is in that set!

The ‘offsite’ question is obviously essential aspect of your business continuance planning. I would suggest that today, there is no excuse for not having a DR copy of your data. The services on offer and the impact of virtualistaion make this achievable for almost all organisations, mainly due to the dramatic reduction in the cost of building a disaster recovery facility. EMC has been working with leading cloud providers like; Telstra, Optus, MelbourneIT, Maquarie Telecom, and dimension data,  for years to build our their portfolio of backup, archive and other services.  To be blunt, I would suggest that you are negligent in your duty as an IT professional, if you don’t at least have a DR copy of your data!

So, I do still wonder when I hear vendors make claims that go against common sense, why end users don’t translate these messages into the real impact they have. For example, on the storage side there is a cry to “Use direct attached storage”, which really means – build stovepipes.  The cry to make backups a snap’ really means don’t backup. I could go on forever.. but what’s the fun in that!

Keep safe and remember not to throw the baby out with the bath water! There are new and dramatically improved ways of achieving the end, just make sure you still achieve the end!

Apple goes hybrid-cloud, EMC is enabling the enterprise version

by Clive Gold, CTO Marketing, EMC Australia and New Zealand

At EMC world the Amazon’s S3 protocol was announced for ATMOS, and last
week iomega added it to their home drives as well. Interesting isn’t it?

I have said in the past, as a hacker, I am frustrated by Apple’s approach to hiding technology from the user. But watching Steve Job’s recent keynote I had to say wow on a few occasions. Apple has taken the cloud computing model to the next step for consumers. The way they will handle music and photos I think is brilliant. Having signed contracts with a number of major music labels means that they offer a service to the user which no other ‘cloud storage’ provider can, “high-definition” music files which you don’t have to chew up your bandwidth limits uploading! More interesting in my mind is that Apple can hold a couple of copies of the file, and have millions licenced to use it! Which is a win win, because now if I choose to purchase a song form Apple, I am getting my backup and DR service for that song for the same cost.

So as EMC helps customer move to the hybrid-cloud model the seamless integration of internal and public clouds is essential. But beyond driving standards and supporting popular cloud services, EMC’s is working hard to address three areas of technology needed for hybrid clouds: management, federation and trust.

  • Management: As you will need to manage the entire environment as if it is your own equipment. Afterall you are responsible for the  service to your organisation, as to where that service runs will be a ‘back-office’ decision based on SLA, cost, risk etc.
  • Federation: Having the ability to move both workloads and data sets from one place to another, without disruption and within ‘real-time’  s an essential enabler to the hybrid model.
  • Trust: Visibility and control is needed to ensure that the service being delivered meets the standards and policies that your  organisation has set is more challenging in a model where part of your environment is a highly leveraged infrastructure that anyone can be resident on.

Interesting times for IT, but on a personal level, as a photographer with a wife who hasn’t gone digital yet, my life just got better as all my recent photos will automatically appear on her iPad. (As most married men know,  happy wife-happy life!)

Is Big Data applicable to ANZ?

by Clive Gold, CTO Marketing EMC Australia and New Zealand

A comment was made to me that the “big data” idea is just another overhyped US centric IT marketing beat-up. Let me tell you why I absolutely disagree with this!

According to Gartner, the global market size for business intelligence software is just over $10Billion, which means that Australia’s share should be in the region north of $300Million. In the article, here, Gartner is also predicting a revenue grow rate of 9.7%, which is way above the general IT market growth. What’s more interesting in this article are the three demand side factors they highlight:-
• Consumerisation of BI
• Support for extreme data performance and emerging data sources
• BI as a decision platform

What does this mean? Well we now have the tools which are affordable and can churn through data at such a rapid rate that you can ‘suck it and see’, (e.g. EMC Greenplum). This moves the job of turning data into information and knowledge, which moves the capability closer to where decisions need to be made. (In contrast to traditional methods, where you needed to decide what you were looking for upfront, so that your propeller heads could structure and build your system to give those answers.) AND to make this even more interesting you are not limited to your own data anymore!

The trend of large ‘public cloud’ providers opening up API’s to enable the programmatic access to their data is changing the landscape. One funny example sited by Trade Me at Inform in Wellington was of a chap who used their API’s built an app which searched for auctions that were about to end, where the price was $1 and there was no delivery charge! The app would bid for the item and he satisfied his need to just get stuff! (I’m not really advocating this!)

So back to my main point, can you answer yes to one of these?

– Do you have a web presence and/or transact over online? Would you be interested in how to improve this channel to market and improve customer satisfaction as well as turnover? That is a big data opportunity.
– Does your organisation have a brand you would like to protect and enhance? Public Relations 101 says you need to identify the issue, plan a course of action and then communicate it. Now with access to social media data, webclicks and internal data, the identification of the issue is now a big data opportunity.
– Does your organisation have choices about what services or products to provide? To understand the trends, and match the current or future needs and wants of your customers with what the organisation could be capable of providing, is a big data opportunity.
– Do you have to make decisions? How many times have we heard about bad decisions that have been made, where the data was readily available? Making sense of the available data and helping you make better decisions is a big data opportunity.

Today ‘ignorance’ is a choice you make! The data is readily available, the tools to support real-time decision making are here and the opportunities for Australian and New Zealand companies are as big as anywhere in the world. So the only question is will ANZ lead this field, as we have so many others in IT recently?

Please Vblock is not a Reference Architecture its a product!

by Clive Gold, Marketing CTO EMC Australia and New Zealand

Please let this be the last time I have to talk about Vblock
and Flexpod in the same sentence!

The question has come up again at Inform, “What’s the difference
between Vblock and Flexpod?” Simply everything as they are completely different!  Vblock is a converged infrastructure product Flexpod is a reference
architecture.

Converged Infrastructure is a single product that provides  you with an IT infrastructure. It is sized, purchased, supported and upgraded  as a single product. This means that the design, integration, construction and  lifecycle costs are born by the supplier and the majority of the technology  risks are also removed from the consumer!  It’s not that hard to understand, if you  forget the way the industry has operated since the disaggregation of IT and the birth of ‘open systems’.

Let me use an analogy. When I got my first pay check, I rushed out and to build myself a great sound system. I studied amplifiers, speaker systems, record players and even monster cabling. After much time and energy comparing signal to noise ratios, frequency responses and dynamic ranges I purchased the pieces and spent a day constructing and connecting the system. Compare this to my last visit to the USA when I picked up a Bose Soundwave system!

Today you have two options; Build Your Own or Purchase a Product.

Like Bunnings, we have the information to help you do it yourself; these are called reference architectures. To create a reference architecture we build, test and iron out all the wrinkles; we then create a raft of documentation in the form of best practice and “how to” guides. This reduces the risk and shares some of the expertise, but risk remains with you. As you run this infrastructure there is a major contributor to cost and complexity you are still managing and supporting individual components. That is each layer has its own management tool and will require patching and updating separately.

The other approach is to purchase a Vblock. Vblock is simply a single product. We architected, built, tested and performance profiled these products. You can thus just size your job and select the right product. Then as you would expect of a single product, one-box arrives which is ‘plugged in’ and available for use. You have a single tool to manage your Vblock. You have a single number to call if anything goes wrong with your Vblock. You receive a single update for your Vblock. If it doesn’t perform to specification, well that’s our problem! Making sure the update works, well that’s our problem!  Developing new and better ways to use your Vblock and adding value to your organisation, well that’s your problem.

So if you want to talk about reference architectures, EMC invented these through our $3Billion investment in interoperability and I’m sure we have the one that you are looking for. BUT if you want converged infrastructure Vblock is a different conversation. (I hope you get it now!)