Monthly Archives: August 2012

Transform Yourself – Does that Scare or Excite You?

This is the last of the three posts about Transform IT+Business+Yourself..

If you are a road-warrior, like me you will often be asked, “How to do cope being on the road so much?” Well I have a confession, I love it! The idea of coming to work each day and doing the same thing every day scares me. Tim Longhurst, @timlonghurst, had a little model about people’s attitude to change; the edge people who actively look for the change and think outside the box, there are the people who go along with it and there are the anchors that do everything in their power to maintain the status-quo.

To me learning about or creating something new is the same as that new toy you got as a child. (Which I do get accused of being by my colleagues every time I walk in with a new gadget, which is currently the 7” Samsung Galaxy Tab2.)

Personally, I have a big problem with the anchors, who love to say, ‘we have always done it this way!’ The past is just a lesson on how to improve it next time. After all, advancement is only achieved by building on what has been done before, by standing on the shoulders of giants… etc. etc. (I could make some statement about why the Apple/Samsung court case is bad for our market in general and will stifle innovation, but let’s not go there now.)

So back to the point here, Transform IT+Business, will only happen if we take heed of the major trends affecting our skills and teams:

–          Transform IT by breaking down silos: ImageWe got a hint of this when virtualisation started and the VMguy had to know about everything. The virtual machine not only contained the application but abstracted storage and networking. Suddenly the breadth of skills had to expand and an understanding of all domains became mandatory. To me this is why Australia led the world, as the average Australian IT professional has always had a far wider skill set than almost all the northern countries.

–          Transform from Technology to Service DeliveryImage
As automation and orchestration look after work ‘not fit for humans’, the humans apply their intellect at a higher level, to work with the organisation and understand their needs and then working out how best to deliver the service to meet those requirements.

–          Transform Business by finding the Information, Knowledge and Wisdom within the Data: ImageTo do this a multi-disciplinary approach is needed to be able to investigate, theorize, and discover the relationships and trends and the correlations that exist in the vast amount of data we all have access to.

Exciting times ahead, embrace them and enjoy the journey!

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Is this the End of the Backup Software Market?

A very interesting press release today, “EMC and VMware Partner to Deliver New VMware vSphere Data Protection, Powered by EMC Avamar Technology”, full release on their websites or (here). So what will happen when the leading virtualisation system tightly integrates the leading source based deduplication software?

My thinking goes like this:

–       most environments are virtualised moving rapidly to 100%

–       most people use VMware, analysts put their market share around 80%

–       most people are re-engineered their backup environments, IDC shows ‘backup-appliances as the fastest growing and now the majority of the market spend.

–       most people are designing complexity out of their environment.

So why would you not choose this as your backup method?

I love my analogies and to show my age I’ll use the humble car-radio! When I was young it was only the very high end vehicles that had a factory installed radio. Your stereo choice was more important than road worthiness and many weekend was spend cutting holes in the back to fit oversized speakers! Yet today you up-size the system as an option, however no vehicle is sold with the sounds of silence, and the ‘car radio’ market, is somewhat a niche for the enthusiast or the duff duff lover!

Will this trend of re-engineering backup continue, I have to believe it as there are so many reasons why the ‘old’ tape based regime is dying fast:

–       Virtualisation breaks the old method!  The usual story of the single NIC card replacing 20, as you virtualise, now you try move the same data through that one bottleneck and meet your backup window!

–       Compliance reasons – using deduplication to bring all the data into one place and under centralised control!

–       Service level reasons, you finally realise that the purpose of backup is restore and when you need data you should have it right there, right now!

–       And maybe to quote my Data Domain colleagues, Tape Sucks –its just too complicated and too unreliable and too costly and too people intensive!!

So I’m pretty convinced that this is a disruptive move in the market, well done someone. Now all I am wondering is if some of the EMC Avamar team have gone to the North West and having a similar conversation there… wouldn’t that be cool!!

EMC Forum – Relating to the Future Picture

In the last post introduced the EMC Forum theme of Transform IT+Business+Yourself and outlined the picture the futurist painted. Now what has this to do with Cisco, EMC and VMware? Well it seems to be the vision and strategy, that binds these three companies together.

We all identify with the IT Transformation message that the world is moving from consolidation, through virtualisation to automated and orchestrated infrastructures. No one questions this evolution any more, they just talk about where they are on in the journey. As Andrew Dutton, (APJ Lead for VMware), pointed out from the boardroom down, this is no longer a question of IF, it’s just a question of how quick!

The technologies needed to complete this infrastructure transformation, and realise the goal of a fully automated hybrid cloud being run as a service, are beginning to surface. It can also be tracked by following the acquisitions, such as VMware’s purchase of Nicira, (software defined networking), Cisco’s purchase of Newscale and Tidal, you can track the virtualisation, automation and orchestration path.

Transforming Business, is by far, the most interesting part of the market today. As we humans accept that the amount of data that is available to us is more than the human mind can cope with, we realise that technologies can enhance and improve everything we do! More importantly as many organisations look to modernise applications by moving them to framework based environments like VMware’s Spingsource, there is an opportunity to architect for the future. Why just take an old application and put it on a new platform?

In the process of modernising applications, think about the future of IT. IT’s job is to capture, store, and analyse all data to provide real-time analytic support to all parts of the organisation. EMC’s recent implementation of SAP used this idea to construct what we are calling the “Application Integration Cloud”, the use of an in-memory database to enable integration and to feed the Big Data store. Not only did this reduce the integration challenge between all our systems but set up a modern analytics platform that has revolutionised our BI process and enabled us to leverage all our data.

Now what about transforming yourself.. next time..

Did we define the Future during the EMC Forum Keynote?

Transform IT+Business+Yourself was the theme at EMC Forum 2012, if you were there this should have been in-your-face, if you weren’t … sorry you missed a great event. (I’m obviously un-biased). We had record attendance, about 30% up on last year, record feedback scores, and a room full of people having a cold beverage at the end of a long day!

For the keynote I worked with a ‘futurist’, Tim Longhurst (here), to try ad stretch people to think about the future, and then have EMC, Cisco and VMware talk about what is being done today to make this future happen. (If you were there, did it work?)

Tim had some interesting points…

–       Massive Miss-allocation of Resource! His example was look at the streets of any city and there are all these car’s doing nothing, why would we leave billions of dollars of investment idle most of the time! Think about the average Australian worker who drives to work, the car is idle for the day, until they drive home. Why shouldn’t your car drive itself home for someone else in the family to use during the day, before it drives itself back to pick you up?

–       Enhanced decision Making: The wisdom of the crowd allows us to tap into new ways to make decisions.  Examples like mint.com which monitors the market and gives you investment suggestions for your super/pension in the USA. Also the incredible success of the “pebble” watch fund raising on KickStarter, they went to raise $100k and landed up with ten times as much, (here).

–       Your Cyborg Future: Not the half man half machine, but he fact that already we treat our smartphones like people, and we become more attached to technologies. (A recent survey showed one third of American respondents, would give up sex before their phone, Google it!)

Next, how does this relate to EMC, Cisco and VMware.

Back in a FLASH!

After a long hiatus it’s time to begin this blog again, like my weight loss regime, I’ve run out of excuses and it’s time to put the effort it!

 There has been so much going on and so many interesting developments in the industry.. it’s time to throw some ideas out there and let’s see what interests you..

How would you build a storage array if you knew nothing about disk drives? I guess you would do what XtremeIO have done! I wrote the following for a SNIA newsletter but you might find it interesting..

“Adoption of new technologies always seems to follow the same maturation cycle. History shows that we first think of new technologies with the old mindset; remember the “horseless carriage”. Then eventually we re-assess the use-cases and then take full advantage of the innovation. Imagine a world today without motorised transportation.

Today the same pattern in the storage industry!  For a few years now, leading storage vendors have been incorporating FLASH storage into their arrays; the horseless carriage. The FLASH devices are being used instead of mechanical disks, but are being used with the ‘old’ mindset. Doing this has created tremendous value for the market as there has been a fundamental shift. The shift is to use the FLASH to deliver performance, while mechanical disks provide the low cost storage. With the right amount of automation the cost of storage systems can be reduced, in some cases around the 30% mark.

However, is there more benefit to using FLASH as a storage medium and re-thinking the whole thing? The answer is yes, and hence a number of FLASH start-ups have sprung up. These companies are engineering storage products from the ground up to use FLASH as the storage media, and the results are fantastic.

As an example of this change consider the RAID mechanism for protecting data. One of the fundamental constructs of the current RAID algorithms is that you are dealing with a set of physical disk drives. The algorithms have therefore been designed to understand the locality of the data and in essence attempt to overcome the physical limitations of physical drives such as seek times.

Now consider FLASH memory, there are no seek times and in fact there is no concept of ‘devices’, add FLASH you get more capacity! With these factors in mind the data protection algorithms can we rewritten to perform better protection with less overhead! One vendor has shown how ‘double parity’ protection, (equivalent to RAID-6), carries an average overhead of just 1.2 i/os. Dramatically different to the reads and writes that have to be done in a traditional RAID-6 system!

This is just the beginning, as we move into the ‘big data’ world, its technologies like this which will enable us to make best use of all the data that is available, and make a profound impact on the world we live in!”