Cloud

Kicking off Cloud Field Day 2

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Tomorrow kicks off Cloud Field Day 2 (#CFD2) here in the San Francisco Bay Area and thankful for the invitation to take part. CFD2 brings together an interesting mix of vendors and cloud solutions over the next three days. Here is the rundown of who is participating:

In addition, Thursday evening is the Microservices Meetup, Cloud Field Day Edition. All in all, the meetings this week and the Meetup should provide interesting information on where these companies are with regards to cloud.

While I have quite a bit of experience with most of the companies on this list, there are couple of new ones. And I am always on the lookout for new, disruptive companies. Over the next few days, look for a series of tweets from the group and join in using the hashtag #CFD2.

Business · CIO · Cloud · IoT

The five most popular posts of 2016

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While 2016 is quickly coming to a close, it offers plenty to reflect on. For the CIO, IT organizations and leaders who work with technology, 2016 offered a glimpse into the future and the cadence in which it takes. We learned how different industries, behaviors and technologies are impacting business decisions, societal norms and economic drivers.

Looking back on 2016, here is a list of the top-5 posts on AVOA.com.

#5: Understanding the five tiers of IoT core architecture

In this July post, I suggest an architecture to model IoT design and thinking.

#4: Changing the language of IT: 3 things that start with the CIO

This May post attracted a ton of attention from CIOs (and non-CIOs) as part of their transformation journey.

#3: IT transformation is difficult, if not impossible, without cloud

Another May post on the importance of the intersection between transformation and cloud.

#2: Microsoft Azure Stack fills a major gap for enterprise hybrid cloud

Only one of two top-five vendor-related posts digs into the importance of Microsoft’s hybrid cloud play.

And the #1 post…

#1: Is HPE headed toward extinction

This provocative post looks at business decisions by HPE and how they impact the enterprise buyer.

2017 is already shaping up nicely with plenty of change coming. And with that, I close out 2016 wishing you a very Happy New Year and an even better 2017!

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.

Business · CIO · Cloud · Data

HPE clarifies their new role in the enterprise

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Last week, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) held their annual US-based Discover conference in Las Vegas. HPE has seen quite a bit of change in the past year with the split of HP into HPE & HP Inc. They shut down their Helion Public Cloud offering and announced the divestiture of their Enterprise Services (ES) business to merge with CSC into a $26B business. With all of the changes and 10,000 people in attendance, HPE sought to clarify their strategy and position in the enterprise market.

WHAT IS IN AND WHAT IS OUT?

Many of the questions attendees were asking circled around the direction HPE was taking considering all of the changes just in the past year alone. Two of the core changes (shutting down Helion Public Cloud and splitting off their ES business) have raised many eyebrows wondering if HPE might be cutting off their future potential.

While HPE telegraphs that their strategy is to support customers with their ‘digital transformation’ journey, the statement might be a bit overreaching. That is not to say that HPE is not capable of providing value to enterprises. It is to say that there are specific aspects that they do provide value and yet a few significant gaps. We are talking about a traditional hardware-focused company shifting more and more toward software. Not a trivial task.

There are four pillars that support the core HPE offering for enterprises. Those include Infrastructure, Analytics, Cloud and Software.

INFRASTRUCTURE AT THE CORE

HPE’s strength continues to rest on their ability to innovate in the infrastructure space. I wrote about their Moonshot and CloudSystem offerings three years ago here. Last year, HPE introduced their Synergy technology that supports composability. Synergy, and the composable concept, is one of the best opportunities to address the evolving enterprise’s changing demands. I delve a bit deeper into the HPE composable opportunity here.

Yet, one thing is becoming painfully clear within the industry. The level of complexity for infrastructure is growing exponentially. For any provider to survive, there needs to be a demonstrable shift toward leveraging software that manages the increasingly complex infrastructure. HPE is heading in that direction with their OneView platform.

Not to be outdone in supporting the ever-changing software platform space, HPE also announced that servers will come ready to support Docker containers. This is another example of where HPE is trying to bridge the gap between traditional infrastructure and newer application architectures including cloud.

CLOUD GOES PRIVATE

Speaking of cloud, there is quite a bit of confusion where cloud fits in the HPE portfolio of solutions. After a number of conversations with members of the HPE team, their solutions are focused on one aspect of cloud: Private Cloud. This makes sense considering HPE’s challenges to reach escape velocity with their Helion Public Cloud offering and core infrastructure background. Keep in mind that HPE’s private cloud solutions are heavily based on OpenStack. This will present a challenge for those considering a move from their legacy VMware footprint. But does open the door to new application architectures that are specifically looking for an OpenStack-based Private Cloud. However, there is already competition in this space from companies like IBM (BlueBox) and Microsoft (AzureStack). And unlike HPE, both IBM & Microsoft have established Public Cloud offerings that complement their Private Cloud solutions (BlueBox & Azure respectively).

One aspect in many of the discussions was how HPE’s Technical Services (TS) are heavily involved in HPE Cloud deployments. At first, this may present a red flag for many enterprises concerned with the level of consulting services required to deploy a solution. However, when considering that the underpinnings are OpenStack-based, it makes more sense. OpenStack, unlike traditional commercial software offerings, still requires a significant amount of support to get it up and running. This could present a challenge to broad appeal of HPE’s cloud solutions except for those few that understand, and can justify, the value proposition.

It does seem that HPE’s cloud business is still in a state of flux and finding the best path to take. With the jettison of Helion Public Cloud and HPE’s support of composability, there is a great opportunity to appeal to the masses and leverage their partnership with Microsoft to support Azure & AzureStack on a Synergy composable stack. Yet, the current focus appears to still focus on OpenStack based solutions. Note: HPE CloudSystem does support Synergy via the OneView APIs.

SOFTWARE

At the conference, HPE highlighted their security solutions with a few statistics. According to HPE, they “secure nine of the top 10 software companies, all 10 telcos and all major branches of the US Department of Defense (DoD).” While those are interesting statistics, one should delve a bit further to determine how extensive this applies.

Security sits alongside the software group’s Application Lifecycle Management (ALM), Operations and BigData software solutions. As time goes on, I would hope to see HPE mature the significance of their software business to meet the changing demands from enterprises.

THE GROWTH OF ANALYTICS

Increasingly, enterprise organizations are growing their dependence on data. A couple of years back, HP (prior to the HPE/ HP Inc split) purchased Autonomy and Vertica. HPE continues to mature their combined Haven solution beyond addressing BigData into the realm of Machine Learning. That that end, HPE now is offering Haven On-Demand (http://www.HavenOnDemand.com) for free. Interestingly, the solution leverages HPE’s partnership with Microsoft and is running on Microsoft’s Azure platform.

IN SUMMARY

HPE is bringing into focus those aspects they believe they can do well. The core business is still focused on infrastructure, but also supporting software (mostly for IT focused functions), cloud (OpenStack focused) and data analytics. After the dust settles on the splits and shifts, the largest opportunities for HPE appear to come from infrastructure (and related software), and data analytics. The other aspects of the business, while valuable, support a smaller pool of prospective customers.

Ultimately, time will tell how this strategy plays out. I still believe there is an untapped potential from HPE’s Synergy composable platform that will appeal to the masses of enterprises, but is often missed. Their data analytics strategy appears to be gaining steam and moving forward. These two offerings are significant, but only provide for specific aspects in an enterprises digital transformation.