CIO · Cloud

Eight ways enterprises struggle with public cloud

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The move to public cloud is not new yet many enterprises still struggle to successfully leverage public cloud services. Public cloud services have existed for more than a decade. So, why is it that companies still struggle to effectively…and successfully leverage public cloud? And, more importantly, what can be done, if anything, to address those challenges?

There is plenty of evidence showing the value of public cloud and its allure for the average enterprise. For most CIOs and IT leaders, they understand that there is potential with public cloud. That is not the fundamental problem. The issue is in how you get from here to there. Or, in IT parlance, how you migrate from current state to future state. For many CIOs, cloud plays a critical role in their digital transformation journey.

The steps in which you take as a CIO are not as trivial as many make it out to be. The level of complexity and process is palpable and must be respected. Simply put, it is not a mindset, but rather reality. This is the very context missing from many conversations about how enterprises, and their CIO, should leverage public cloud. Understanding and addressing the challenges provides for greater resolution to a successful path.

THE LIST OF CHALLENGES

Looking across a large cross-section of enterprises, several patterns start to appear. It seems that there are six core reasons why enterprises struggle to successfully adopt and leverage public cloud.

  1. FUD: Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt still ranks high among the list of issues with public cloud…and cloud in general. For the enterprise, there is value, but also risk with public cloud. Industry-wide, there is plenty of noise and fluff that further confuses the issues and opportunities.
  2. % of Shovel Ready Apps: In the average enterprise, only 10-20% of an IT organization’s budget (and effort) is put toward new development. There are many reasons for this. However, it further limits the initial opportunity for public cloud experimentation.
  3. Cost: There is plenty of talk about how public cloud is less costly than traditional corporate data center infrastructure. However, the truth is that public cloud is 4x the cost of running the same application within the corporate data center. Yes, 4x…and that considers a fully-loaded corporate data center cost. Even so, the reasons in this list contribute to the 4x factor and therefore can be mitigated.
  4. Automation & Orchestration: Corporate enterprise applications were never designed to accommodate automation and orchestration. In many cases, the effort to change an application may range from requiring significant changes to a wholesale re-write of the application.
  5. Architectural Differences: In addition to a lack of automation & orchestration support, corporate enterprise applications are architected where redundancy lies in the infrastructure tiers, not the application. The application assumes that the infrastructure is available 24×7 regardless if it is needed for 24 hours or 5 minutes. This model flies in the face of how public cloud works.
  6. Cultural impact: Culturally, many corporate IT folks work under an assumption that the application (and infrastructure it runs on) is just down the hall in the corporate data center. For infrastructure teams, they are accustomed to managing the corporate data center and infrastructure that supports the corporate enterprise applications. Moving to a public cloud infrastructure requires changes in how the CIO leads and how IT teams operate.
  7. Competing Priorities: Even if there is good reason and ROI to move an application or service to public cloud, it still must run the gauntlet of competing priorities. Many times, those priorities are set by others outside of the CIOs organization. Remember that there is only a finite amount of budget and resources to go around.
  8. Directives: Probably one of the scariest things I have heard is board of directors dictating that a CIO must move to cloud. Think about this for a minute. You have an executive board dictating technology direction. Even if it is the right direction to take, it highlights other issues in the executive leadership ranks.

Overall, one can see how each of these eight items are intertwined with each other. Start to work on one issue and it may address another issue.

UNDERSTANDING THE RAMIFICATIONS

The bottom line is that, as CIO, even if I agree that public cloud provides significant value, there are many challenges that must be addressed. Aside from FUD and the few IT leaders that still think cloud is a fad that will pass, most CIOs I know support leveraging cloud. Again, that is not the issue. The issue is how to connect the dots to get from current state to future state.

However, not addressing the issues up front from a proactive perspective can lead to several outcomes. These outcomes are already visible in the industry today and further hinder enterprise public cloud adoption.

  1. Public Cloud Yo-Yo: Enterprises move an application to public cloud only to run into issues and then pull it back out to a corporate data center. Most often, this is due to the very issues outlined above.
  2. Public Cloud Stigma: Due to the yo-yo effect, it creates a chilling effect where corporate enterprise organizations slow or stop public cloud adoption. The reasons range from hesitation to flat out lack of understanding.

Neither of these two issues are good for enterprise public cloud adoption. Regardless, the damage is done and considering the other issues, pushes public cloud adoption further down the priority list. Yet, both are addressable with a bit of forethought and planning.

GETTING ENTERPRISES STARTED WITH PUBLIC CLOUD

One must understand that the devil is in the details here. While this short list of things ‘to-do’ may seem straight forward, how they are done and addressed is where the key is.

  1. Experiment: Experiment, experiment, experiment. The corporate IT organization needs a culture of experimentation. Experiments are mean to fail…and learned from. Too many times, the expectation is that experiments will succeed and when they don’t, the effort is abandoned.
  2. Understand: Take some time to fully understand public cloud and how it works. Bottom line: Public cloud does not work like corporate data center infrastructure. It is often best to try and forget what you know about your internal environment to avoid preconceived assumptions.
  3. Plan: Create a plan to experiment, test, observe, learn and feed that back into the process to improve. This statement goes beyond just technology. Consider the organizational, process and cultural impacts.

WRAPPING IT UP

There is a strong pull for CIOs to get out of the data center business and reduce their corporate data center footprint. Public cloud presents a significant opportunity for corporate enterprise organizations. But before jumping into the deep end, take some time to understand the issues and plan accordingly. The difference will impact the success of the organization, speed of adoption and opportunities to the larger business.

Further Reading…

The enterprise view of cloud, specifically public cloud, is confusing

The enterprise CIO is moving to a consumption-first paradigm

The three modes of enterprise cloud applications

Business · CIO · Cloud · Mobile · Social

My top most used business tools and applications when traveling

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What better way to kick off 2017 than to talk about the tools I find to be most useful? I wrote a post back in 2012 that outlined many of the tools I used back then. As many of you know, I travel a lot. Just about every week I am on a plane going somewhere in the world. Compared to many of my fellow corporate executives, it ranks in the excessive category for a CIO.

Considering the amount of travel, I am often asked what tools I find to be most useful. First, it is important to understand that I work under a minimalist perspective. That means, I try to travel with the least amount that I can. The lighter the load, the happier the experience.

LUGGAGE

First rule of travel: Carry-on, do not check luggage unless you absolutely must. There are many reasons for this. If you travel a lot, you need to invest in good-quality luggage. While I have a full collection of Tumi luggage, which I swear by, there are two pieces that I use most frequently:

Tumi Alpha 2: International Expandable 2 Wheeled Carry-On

Tumi Alpha 2: Compact Laptop Brief Pack

These two pieces offer the most flexibility when traveling both domestically and internationally and fit my technology needs very well.

HARDWARE

Ok, on to the technology part of the post. There are two fundamental components that I have used for years now; an iPhone and an iPad. With rare exceptions, these are the only two devices I travel with. Here are the details of what I am currently using:

iPhone 6s Plus: The iPhone offers the ability to make calls while traveling internationally. It also syncs with the iPad. The 6s Plus is the first time I am using the larger screen. In hindsight, the smaller screen size is probably a better choice for me. While the larger size is nice from a real estate perspective, the size is excessive for most things. In addition, it is almost impossible to do anything on the phone with only one hand.

iPad Pro 9.7”: This is an upgrade from the iPad Air, iPad 3 and original iPad I used previously. The iPad platform offers the ability to do a myriad of things using a single device (see software below). The physical size is both compact and not obtrusive when sitting on a desk or table in a meeting. I use the version with Wi-Fi & Cellular. I find that most Wi-Fi networks at hotels, airports, train stations, conventions are simply unreliable. Not to mention the security of those networks. Cellular access allows bypassing many of the issues and LTE is plenty fast.

Apple Pencil: This is a new, and welcome addition to the list. The Apple Pencil finally provides the ability to take detailed handwritten notes and drawing without the relatively crude capabilities that stylus’ offered.

Logitech Create Keyboard: The new Logitech Create keyboard for the iPad Pro not only offers a nice, protective keyboard plus case, but also integrates with the Pro’s Smart Connector and has a spot to hold the Apple Pencil. A good keyboard is a must if you write while on the road. By using the Pro’s Smart Connector, there is no need to use Bluetooth, or charge the keyboard. The keyboard itself is both backlit and has large keys suitable for larger hands. One side note, if you are flying economy, the keyboard and iPad combination is usable, unlike many laptops.

Bose SoundTrue Headphones: These are some of the most comfortable headphones you will find! The do not rely on putting pressure on the ear canal…which can lead to headaches and ear aches. While not noise-cancelling, they are the next best thing. I can wear these all day without ear fatigue.

Bose QuietComfort 25 Noise-Cancelling Headphones: These are a must for long-haul flights. I typically do not travel with them unless traveling across the country or internationally. If you have not experienced noise-cancelling headphones, I find that they dramatically reduce fatigue from long flights. One side note, I have found that the Airbus A380 is the quietest commercial airplane flying today…even more so than the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The A380 is so quiet that you almost do not need noise-cancelling headphones.

Tumi 4-Port USB Travel Adapter: It offers (2) 2A USB ports and (2) 1A USB ports plus includes the different international plug adapters in a nice small package. The Tumi adapter is fused and a perfect addition to eliminate all the different bricks and adapters.

Mophie Powerstation XL: Battery packs are pretty much a necessity these days. However, I find that both the iPhone and iPad offer full-day coverage. The exception is when I travel to conferences and/ or am on the phone and/or iPad non-stop all-day. Or if I am going from breakfast meetings to evening events non-stop. Unlike finding a power outlet which then ties you to that spot while charging, the Mophie provides on-the-go charging.

Apple Airport Express: Traveling Internationally brings on a new set of issues. There are still hotels that offer Wi-Fi in the lobby, but wired connections in the room. This creates a problem when only traveling with an iPad. To combat the issue, I throw this small, self-contained, router in the suitcase when traveling internationally. Note that this is becoming less of an issue. As a side note, when traveling with the family, I use this router to connect all our devices without having to connect each device directly to the hotel Wi-Fi. Each of the phones and tablets are already configured to use the secure Wi-Fi setup on the router. Plus, it gets around many hotels that limit the number of devices connected in a room.

Apple Lightning Adapters: When presenting, you never know which interface you will need. Thankfully, both the iPhone and iPad use the same Lightning adapters. I travel with both VGA and HDMI adapters. I can then choose whether I present off the iPhone or iPad. Note that when presenting, it will quickly drain the battery…so plan accordingly.

SOFTWARE

Now on to the applications…

Microsoft Office for iOS: The first versions of the Microsoft Office apps for iOS were incredibly limited in functionality. However, the more current versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint are both feature-rich and integrate well with Box.

Box: Box provides an enterprise-grade solution that syncs well with both desktop and mobile devices. The iOS app allows me to choose which files and/or folders I wish to sync for off-line use. This is great for working on documents while on an airplane. The application also allows me to share file/ folder access with others to collaborate.

iThoughts: When creating a presentation, or brainstorming an idea, iThoughts provides a great mind-mapping tool.

Notability: Notability is one of the best note-taking tools I have used. The combination of Notability with the Apple Pencil has practically replaced the need for paper & pencil. When meeting with folks and needing to draw, it makes for a great whiteboard solution. I can take notes, draw pictures and quickly send copies via a myriad of ways including email and text.

Twitter/ Tweetbot: If you are on Twitter, one of these two apps is a necessity. I find that Tweetbot offers several features not available in the native application. However, they are getting closer with each release.

LinkedIn: Connecting via LinkedIn is key to engaging with others. The app, while not perfect, is a good companion while on the road.

WordPress: If you post to blogs based on WordPress, the app is a must. For my post workflow, I still write and edit posts in Word and then cut/ past into WordPress. This provides a backup and place to search across posts locally.

Skype: Skype makes it much easier to work with parties in different countries. Skype provides the ability to call and video-conference across geographies.

Slack: There are a myriad of different communication tools on the market today. Different teams use different tools. However, I find that several of the groups I work with prefer to use Slack.

Kayak: Kayak recently discontinued their Pro product by centralizing everything into their base app. I use Kayak as a single point to manage all travel (air, hotel, car, etc). You simply forward the email with your travel information and Kayak parses the details into ‘trips’. I then sync this information into my calendar to see everything in one place.

United: As a United Million Mile Flyer, and based from SFO or LAX, United provides some of the best flight choices to the locations I travel most. The app allows me to change flights, change seats, book flights and get status updates on-the-go.

Miscellaneous iOS Apps: In addition to the third-party apps listed above, I also use the native iOS apps including Mail, Safari, Calendar, Notes, Reminders, Music, Messages, Photos, Maps, Contacts, etc. One thing I value with the iOS platform is the ability to sync data and settings across devices.

Miscellaneous Apps: There are several other apps that I use, but they are less for business and more for personal uses. The iPad platform gives me the ability to work, play, read news, watch movies, read books all on one device. Again, less is more.

 

Hopefully that provides a glimpse of what I found to be most useful when traveling. I welcome your suggestions and recommendations too!

Business · CIO · Cloud · Data

Is HPE headed toward extinction?

The first question might be, why does a CIO care if any one vendor comes or goes? It matters if you are invested in that company’s products or services. The vast majority of enterprises have invested in a number of enterprise companies…including HP Enterprise (HPE). Many are asking where HPE is headed and how long customers can rely on that relationship and investment?

In order to answer that question, one has to break down the problem a bit. In the beginning, we had one Hewlett Packard.

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HP SPLITS IN TWO

On October 6, 2014, HP (NYSE: HPQ) announced that it would split into two new publicly traded Fortune 50 companies. The two companies would split down the lines of consumer products and enterprise solutions. The former being called HP Inc. and the latter being called HP Enterprise. A year later, on November 1, 2015, the split officially took effect.

My take is that the split is a good thing for both HP/ HPE and customers. It allows each of the two companies to focus on their respective strengths and markets. The consumer market is much different from the enterprise market.

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HPE CONTINUES TO REDUCE PORTFOLIO

Since the split in 2015, HPE has been busy reducing the size of their portfolio. There were four core pieces to HPE’s business: Cloud, Services, Software and Infrastructure.

One of the first things to go was HPE’s Helion Cloud business. The mystery here is that cloud is one of the largest opportunities for any of the legacy IT vendors, including HPE. As customers make the move from traditional corporate data center infrastructure to cloud-based solutions, existing providers need to consider this loss of revenue. Cloud presents one of the largest opportunities for customers and HPE could have leveraged their large based of existing customers. So, why would HPE move away from building up this business as part of its future strategy?

Unfortunately, While HPE’s foray with a cloud offering had the opportunity to carry HPE into the future, they struggled to find their footing with customers. In the end, the twists and turns for HPE offering a cloud offering were futile and they shuttered the Helion offering.

There is still a component of HPE’s cloud business that is hanging on called Cloud System. However, it is part of infrastructure and requires a Technical Services engagement as part of the purchase. In sum, this is a rather small part of HPE’s business and the requirement

The second step was spinning off HPE’s Services business to CSC May 2016. While HPE & CSC called the transaction a merger, it was widely seen in the industry as a spinout from HPE to CSC. The move aligned HPE’s Services business with an existing large services vendor.

The third step was spinning off HPE’s Software business to Micro Focus in September 2016. Again, the transaction was billed as a “merger”, however, it is also seen as a spinout from HPE to Micro Focus. The interesting thing about this transaction was that it included one of the gems in HPE’s business. It included their big data and analytics business.

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Taking away HPE’s Cloud, Services and Software businesses, the only thing that is left is their core infrastructure business. Aside from their continued innovation in servers and storage, their Synergy platform potentially provided HPE a longer term future in the infrastructure business.

Enterprise customers are moving away from owning traditional corporate data center assets in droves. This includes traditional server and storage infrastructure. Out with the old and in with the new. HPE’s Synergy platform potentially provides HPE an interesting bridge for those enterprise customers looking to leverage infrastructure investments as they leverage new architectures and development routines on their way to cloud.

I say potentially because HPE’s infrastructure business is hindered by a number of factors. First, enterprises are moving away from traditional infrastructure toward cloud. And future state solutions including cloud and big data are now gone from the HPE portfolio. In addition, HPE continues to struggle with the traditional way of thinking. And this traditional thinking is not going to resonate with customers looking to change things up demonstrably. There is still potential for HPE’s infrastructure business, but only if they make significant shifts in thinking, strategy and leadership. That being said, the window of opportunity for HPE infrastructure is limited.

IS THE LONG TERM STRATEGY FOR HPE EXTINCTION?

Here’s the kicker: By closing down their Cloud business and selling their big data and analytics business, HPE essentially removed their long term future. On the surface that would be suspect until you think about the end-game.

Looking at the path HPE has taken over the past two years and what is left, there is a glaring conclusion that HPE’s strategy all along was focused on breaking up the company and selling off the assets. Many of us suspected this was the case right out of the gate. With the activities just in the past six short months, it is clear that HPE’s destiny is extinction.

The irony in all of this? Once the end-state for HPE infrastructure is determined, there will be only one “HP” left: HP Inc.

CIO · Cloud · Data · IoT

2016 is the year of data and relevance

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Over the past few years, I have outlined my thoughts for the upcoming year. You can read those from past years here:

Cloud Predictions for 2013 (12/14/12)

CIO Predictions for 2014 (12/20/13)

5 things a CIO wishes for this holiday season (12/26/14)

In 2016, data and relevance will play the leading role across the industry. Data and relevance are not necessarily new, but are providing something new to each of the hot technology areas.

THE YEAR OF DATA AND RELEVANCE

Two core trends came to light during the latter half of 2015; data and relevance. While innovation and experimentation are hallmark components to growth, data and relevance lead to one clear message for 2016: Focus. And it is this very focus that will provide opportunity to buyers and providers alike.

In the past couple of years, we saw new solutions and methods to collect data. In 2016, organizations will hone their craft in how data is collected and used. This is easier said than done as there are still technological and cultural boundaries to overcome. However, 2016 brings a renewed focus on the importance of data from all aspects.

Over the same past few years, a myriad of novel and clever solutions overwhelmed us. 2016 brings forth a drive to focus on those most relevant to our needs; both today and in the future. As part of this focus, look for continued consolation.

2016 SIDENOTES

There are two areas that I suspect will influence activity among buyers and providers alike in 2016. One of those is the economic impact of changes in economies, industries and geopolitical areas. The second has more to do with the specific matchups, consolidations, mergers, acquisitions and folds that take place. The early half of 2016 should be interesting as many were already teed up in the latter half of 2015.

The hot areas for 2016 continue to be Cloud, Data, IoT, Software, Infrastructure and Security.

  • Cloud: Look for enterprises to continue their adoption of cloud as they 1) get out of the data center business and 2) provide leverage to do things not otherwise possible.
  • Data: As mentioned above, the drive for greater data consumption will continue. Look for enterprises to start to understand the relevance of data as it pertains to their business (today and in the future).
  • IoT: Enterprises across a wide range of industries are looking to capitalize on the Internet of Things movement. The value and interest in IoT will only continue to grow through 2016 as enterprises find novel ways to leverage IoT to grow their business.
  • Software: The world of enterprise software continues to evolve. Enterprises continue to move away from large, monolithic applications to applications more directly focused on their industry or area of need. This presents a great opportunity for incumbent enterprise players as much as new entrants.
  • Infrastructure: The infrastructure world is being turned on its head and for good reason. Look for changes in the paradigm of how infrastructure is leveraged. The need for infrastructure is not going away…but how it is consumed is completely changing.
  • Security: While a perennial subject, look for security to weave a path through each of the areas above as organizations begin to focus on how to best leverage (and protect) their assets. For many, their core asset is data.

HAPPY NEW YEAR! HERE’S TO A PROSPEROUS 2016!!!

We all have quite a bit to look forward to in 2016! Change is in the wind and it will continue to provide us with opportunity. Here’s to it bringing great tidings in 2016!

Business · CIO · Cloud · Data

Are the big 5 enterprise IT providers making a comeback?

Not long ago, many would have written off the likes of the big five large enterprise IT firms as slow, lethargic, expensive and out of touch. Who are the big five? IBM (NYSE: IBM), HP (NYSE: HPQ), Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT), Oracle (NYSE: ORCL) and Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO). Specifically, they are companies that provide traditional enterprise IT software, hardware and services.

Today, most of the technology innovation is coming from startups, not the large enterprise providers. Over the course of 2015, we have seen two trends pick up momentum: 1) Consolidation in the major categories (software, hardware, and services) and 2) Acquisitions by the big five. Each of them are making huge strides in different ways.

Here’s a quick rundown of the big five.

IBM guns for the developer

Knowing that the developer is the start of the development process, IBM is shifting gears toward solutions that address the new developer. Just look at the past 18 months alone.

  • February 2014: Dev@Pulse conference showed a mix of Cobol developers alongside promotion of Bluemix. The attendees didn’t resemble your typical developer conference. More details here.
  • April 2014: Impact conference celebrated 50 years of the mainframe. Impact also highlighted the SoftLayer acquisition and brought the integration of mobile and cloud.
  • October 2014: Insight conference goes further to bring cloud, data and Bluemix into the fold.
  • February 2015: InterConnect combines a couple of previous conferences into one. IBM continues the drive with cloud, SoftLayer and Bluemix while adding their Open Source contributions specifically around OpenStack.

SoftLayer (cloud), Watson (analytics) and Bluemix are strengths in the IBM portfolio. And now with IBM’s recent acquisition of BlueBox and partnership with Box, it doesn’t appear they are letting up on the gas. Add their work with Open Source software and it creates an interesting mix.

There are still significant gaps for IBM to fill. However, the message from IBM supports their strengths in cloud, analytics and the developer. This is key for the enterprise both today and tomorrow.

HP’s cloudy outlook

HP has long had a diverse portfolio that addresses the needs of the enterprise today and into the future. Of all big five providers, HP has one of the best matched to the enterprise needs today and in the future.

  • Infrastructure: HP’s portfolio of converged infrastructure and components is solid. Really solid. Much of it is geared for the traditional enterprise. One curious point is that their server components span the enterprise and service provider market. However, their storage products are squarely targeting the enterprise to the omission of the service providers. You can read more here.
  • Software: I have long since felt that HP’s software group has a good bead on the industry trends. They have a strong portfolio of data analytics tools with Vertica, Autonomy and HAVEn (being rebranded). HP’s march to support the Idea Economy is backed up by the solutions they’re putting in place. You can read more here.
  • Cloud: I have said that HP’s cloud strategy is an enigma. Unfortunately, discussions with the HP Cloud team at Discover this month further cemented that perspective. There is quite a bit of hard work being done by the Helion team, but the results are less clear. HP’s cloud strategy is directly tied to OpenStack and their contributions to the projects support this move.

HP will need to move beyond operating in silos and support a more integrated approach that mirrors the needs of their customers. While HP Infrastructure and Software are humming along, Helion cloud will need a renewed focus to gain relevance and mass adoption.

Microsoft’s race to lose

Above all other players, Microsoft still has the broadest and deepest relationships across the enterprise market today. Granted, much of those relationships are built upon their productivity apps, desktop and server operating systems, and core applications (Exchange, SQL, etc). There is no denying that Microsoft probably has relationships with more organizations than any of the others.

Since Microsoft Office 365 hit its stride, enterprises are starting to take a second look at Azure and Microsoft’s cloud-based offerings. This still leaves a number of gaps for Microsoft; specifically around data analytics and open standards. Moving to open standards will require a significant cultural shift for Microsoft. Data analytics could come through the acquisition of a strong player in the space.

Oracle’s comprehensive cloud

Oracle has long been seen as a strong player in the enterprise space. Unlike many other players that provide the building blocks to support enterprise applications, Oracle provides the blocks and the business applications.

One of Oracle’s key challenges is that the solutions are heavy and costly. As enterprises move to a consumption-based model by leveraging cloud, Oracle found itself flat-footed. Over the past year or so, Oracle has worked to change that position with their cloud-based offerings.

On Monday, Executive Chairman, CTO and Founder Larry Ellison presented Oracle’s latest update in their race for the enterprise cloud business. Oracle is now providing the cloud building blocks from top to bottom (SaaS PaaS IaaS). The message is strong: Oracle is out to support both the developer and business user through their transformation.

Oracle’s strong message to go after the entire cloud stack should not go unnoticed. In Q4 alone, Oracle cloud cleared $426M. That is a massive number. Even if they did a poor job of delivering solutions, one cannot deny the sheer girth of opportunity that overshadows others.

Cisco’s shift to software

Cisco has long since been the darling of the IT infrastructure and operations world. Their challenge has been to create a separation between hardware and software while advancing their position beyond the infrastructure realms.

In general, networking technology is one of the least advanced areas when compared with advances in compute and storage infrastructure. As cloud and speed become the new mantra, the emphasis on networking becomes more important than ever.

As the industry moves to integrate both infrastructure and developers, Cisco will need to make a similar shift. Their work in SDN with ACI and around thought-leadership pieces is making significant inroads with enterprises.

Summing it all up

Each is approaching the problem in their own ways with varying degrees of success. The bottom line is that each of them is making significant strides to remain relevant and support tomorrow’s enterprise. Equally important is how quickly they’re making the shift.

If you’re a startup, you will want to take note. No longer are these folks in your dust. But they are your potential exit strategy.

It will be interesting to watch how each evolves over the next 6-12 months. Yes, that is a very short timeframe, but echoes the speed in which the industry is evolving.