Thanks to Tom Chatham for being a smart ass, and to the Google search rankings keeping this old site in its results, I'm putting up a quick post to link to the new location for this blog!
Having being involved in a number of EMC product releases over the last couple years, this one may have garnered the most wildly speculative pre-launch chatter from the market. While some of it was reasonably accurate, some of it was pretty significantly off-base. Some of the questions and speculation I heard directly were even more crazy! Some amount of this happens with every launch, of course, that’s part of the game that is played, but it seems like this one was especially noisy. This was a hard embargo to honor, that’s for sure…
So now that the veil has been lifted, let’s have a quick discussion about what it means for the larger converged infrastructure ecosystem.
First, I hope it’s very, clearly, painfully obvious that there’s no part of the VSPEX program that competes with VCE. It’s a very flexible, channel delivered reference architecture, but it’s still a reference architecture. I’ve written before that I think the reference architecture has a place in the discussion around converged infrastructure, but its value is not the same as a Vblock, no matter who is offering it.
Let’s look at it graphically:
With the launch of SPEX, EMC is now able to offer all three options to customers, working with them to figure out which go to market strategy works best. And to be sure, each has it’s own value.
Personally, I’m very excited that VSPEX has arrived. It’s a great program for all the strong EMC channel partners out there, and it fills a gap that EMC had. When we talk with customers about Vblock platforms, we know that there can be any number of reasons why a company isn’t ready or able to purchase the entire infrastructure as a product. Maybe it’s a political alignment issue, maybe it’s a purchasing cycle issue, or maybe there’s an existing capital investment that has to be leveraged. In those cases, we work hand-in-hand with the EMC vSpecialist team to help the customer find a V+C+E solution that makes sense, with great success. However, the lack of any real framework and tested configurations that can be leveraged for those customers makes that design and implementation process harder than it might need to be at times, and VSPEX fills that gap. It also makes it very easy for customers and partners who want a reference architecture offering to do business with EMC.
From what I see in the market, the enterprises that still buy pieces and parts of an infrastructure based on internal bias or legacy process and choose to do the complete integration and testing themselves are a dying breed. Most of the customers we talk to love the idea of the Vblock, and are disappointed if their internal processes don’t allow them to move in that direction. VSPEX gives EMC a less rigid, less integrated offering while still providing a level of assurance to customers. That’s not competitive with VCE, that’s EMC putting the customer first and providing a product strategy that works no matter where that customer is in their journey to convergence.
Now that the event is over, and everyone is safely back to their normal lives, I wanted to send up a quick recap of the conference. If this event was a precursor to how the VCE 2012 event schedule is going to go, I’m very excited!
Before each event, the marketing team puts together targets for the show: number of in-booth scans, number of surveys submitted, number of in-booth presentation attendees, number of labs taken. Much like a sales target, the better we do, in relation to the size of the show, the higher the bar gets. When you consistently have greater than half of a conference’s attendees make their way to your booth, that’s a big deal, and we certainly hit that target in London. In fact, we exceeded every target that was set for us by at least 25%, so I’ll be very interested to see where they set them for Cisco Live Melbourne!
For those of you who don’t know, VCE has one of the more grueling booth schedules that I’ve been part of. We try to do a booth presentation every 15 minutes, covering a wide range of topics from vCloud Director integration to M&O to the core Vblock value deck. From a practical standpoint, this puts a lot of pressure on the booth staff! The marketing team has to be constantly working to pull people into the booth, and the technical team has to be ready for anything. With a live Vblock in the booth, there are constantly people coming up to ask questions of varying complexity, and with a second Vblock in the EMC booth and the VPLEX demo that we did multiple times a day, we had to provide some coverage over there as well. In addition, we have questions to field after every booth presentation, we have questions from partners to handle, and this year we added the hands-on-labs as well, all of which leads to very, very full days. Throw in setup and tear down of the booth, and it’s a series of 12 to 16-hour days, most of it on your feet. Even the after-hours “fellowship” is muted at shows since everyone is generally too tired to party (much) and dreading the next morning’s early start. The international shows add a dash of jetlag to the mix just to make things fun!
As someone who has been part of the majority of the significant marketing events for VCE over the last 18 months, it’s funny sometimes to hear about comments made by people who have never attended a show. When I hear managers describing it as a “reward” for employees, or as “personal development” it makes me laugh. In the dozen or so shows that I’ve been part of, I’ve never once attended a general session that wasn’t being given by a VCE employee. I’ve only gotten to see a handful of keynotes. I rarely get to attend the customer appreciation parties. What I do get to do, along with the rest of the core team, is work for weeks preceding a show to get the content and presentations together and approved. We get to spend hours and hours building lab configurations, maintaining lab equipment, working with 3rd party co-location facilities to ensure bandwidth availability and doing the capital acquisition dance to make sure we have equipment for the booth. We get to spend days before the conference getting the event Vblocks (named Bert, Ernie and Elmo, for those of you interested) configured and ready for shipping. We get to fly in early, usually on a weekend that should be spent with our families, and get the booth set up. We get to work 16 hour days, living out of a hotel, for a week. We struggle to maintain any semblance of diet or sleep pattern. And then we put all that aside and spend three or four days being the literal face of the company and our products. Professional development my ass!
Of course, those of us that do it, love it. At this point, I feel like we share ownership of the events with the marketing team, since we all spent the last year figuring out how to make them successful together. With the introduction of the hands-on-labs that feeling of ownership only increases for me personally. It’s so gratifying to see something that was built in-house end up standing in front of customers. The feedback from the 25 people who went through the UIM3.0 lab was fantastic, and hopefully we’ll have two or three more available in Melbourne! It’s hard work, and I know that realistically I won’t be able to attend every event, but when you get such a great team to work with, and you get to see the feedback from inside and outside the company, it makes everything worth it.
And man, what a team it is. Starting at the top, Harris Sussman and Ruya Barrett understand the importance of the events to VCE, and do a great job of providing air cover to those of us working the event. Jeff Lesniak did a great job and not only got his first event under his belt, but handled the triple-whammy of Cisco Live, VCE sales training and the VCE Finsbury Circus office grand opening better than anyone expected. I’m very much looking forward to having Jeff involved in upcoming events. Mary Martinez started the week sick, but thanks to some magic European cough medicine she finished strong. Her strong sense of what she wants the events to be like and how she wants things done rubs off on everyone, plus she does an excellent job of taking care of her team, making things as easy as they can be on us!
On the technical side, the core of Jae Ellers and Tom Chatham, along with Kenny Coleman, Aaron Delp, Steven Bryen and others really form the heart of the show for us. Yes, it’s marketing, but these are all very, very technical folks who have full time jobs with other groups within VCE. They bring the real-world context to the show for the customers, and I think that’s one of the huge differentiators for us. Sure, we have giveaways, and we have cool schwag, but we bring more high-level technical resources on a regular basis to every show than any other company out there. Ask hard questions, folks, we have the firepower in the booth to handle it, I promise!
Looks like Melbourne is next, and I can’t wait. It’ll be my first trip to Australia, and I can’t wait to meet everyone. Plus, I’m tired of winter already, and late-summer sounds much better! Thank you to everyone who supported the VCE team in London, it really means a lot!
With the day one issues all put to bed, day two was awesome. The conference seemed much more lively today, and we ended up having a great day of booth presentations, VPLEX demos and hands on labs.
One of the presentations that I enjoyed the most was from Gideon Wilkins, the Director of Strategic Partner Management with Colt. Colt is a huge service provider player in Europe (and you know I have a soft spot for the SPs!) and they have also standardized on the Vblock platforms for both internal and external use. In addition to being a very engaging speaker, Gideon has an awesome presentation to share. Some of the highlights of his company’s experience with VCE include a 97% reduction in delivery times, a 67% reduction in major hardware incidents, a 15 month ROI on TCO, 50% less rack space, 40% less power consumption and millions saved in maintenance and support costs using the Vblock. That’s the kind of marketing you can’t buy: a customer who shares how the product has positively impacted their business!
The VPLEX demos also got into full swing. We have a pair of 300-series Vblocks on the show floor, one in the VCE booth, naturally, and one in the EMC booth down the aisle. We have a VMware vSphere cluster that’s using an active-active storage presentation from the VPLEX appliances, such that half of the cluster is on the VCE side, and have is over with EMC. We spent the better part of the day showing customers how they could vMotion running workloads from one “location” to the other, without interrupting the end users. One of the demos was a VM running one of the Chad’s World videos, and we moved it from one Vblock to the other without stopping the video stream! The technology is awesome, and even in this simplified (yes, it’s all one layer 2 IP network!) demonstration you can see customers having that “ah-ha!” moment.
The labs were also a much bigger hit today. We were a little more aggressive making sure customers knew that the UIM demo was available and had close to 20 people work through the lab on day 2. With only two lab stations stations available, that was a huge number for us, and I’d like to thank all of the attendees for their participation! I didn’t have any more of the NetApp team come over, but you folks are all certainly welcome!
The night closed out with the Grand Opening of the new Finsbury VCE office, and it was a hell of a party. With a “Casino Royale” theme, customers, partners and friends were treated to a night of fun and prizes in our beautiful new facility. It was great catching up with people, and of course I have a whole new list of follow-up items, including a possible trip back to the UK in the near future. Thank you to all of the VCE marketing folks who made the event possible!
Tomorrow is the final day of the Cisco Live event, and here’s hoping it’s a great one. See you there!
Have you ever read the Calvin and Hobbes comic strips? I grew up with them, and am a huge fan. One of my favorite recurring things in the series was the concept of “Calvinball”, which was their way of rebelling against the rules they were surrounded by every day. The only rules were that there were no rules, and you couldn’t play it the same way twice.
Well, I’ve come to realize that day one of a major marketing event is much like a real-life game of Calvinball: it never comes off as you expected it to, you never have the same challenges twice and the best way to get through it is to laugh, go with the flow and enjoy it!
VCE is one of the platinum sponsors of Cisco Live in London (and Melbourne, and in the US) and our booth is fantastic. The theater area is expanded, and we regularly had 30-50 people crowded around to hear about topics presented by VCE partners, employees and customers. For the first time we also have two hands-on-lab stations where customers can get a self-paced walkthrough of the new version of our UIM/P provisioning a discovery tool. In addition we have all the usual stations, including one with partner information, one with VDI solutions and more. The event marketing team at VCE has done their usual bang-up job with the logistics.
Of course, day one is barely-organized chaos. With one of our main event coordinators in her hotel bed with the flu, and with the rest of the team cutting their teeth in London, it was up to those of us who have been through the gauntlet before to settle things down pre-show. Since my field enablement team (with the incomparable Jae Ellers and Tom Chatham) have done a number of these, we were able to get things moving. Of course, some things are out of our control…
First presentation of the day, by Colt, one of our great Service Provider customers no less, and the power goes out to the whole booth. The event staff gets things back in order quickly, and then we realize that the power cycle has wiped out the configuration on the Cisco-provided internet switch that is powering the hands-on-labs (copy run start is your friend, people). 20 minutes later the Cisco team gets that resolved, only to find out that there’s some issue upstream from us that’s affecting multiple exhibitors. After about an hour, everything is back in working order and we can finally start settling into a groove…
But of course there are more issues. iPads that haven’t been configured correctly, surveys that are a little tricky to submit, booth presentations that seem to have disappeared, booth personnel that seem to have disappeared, all of the day one things that could be issues, were issues. Hey, it is the first event of the year, maybe we just got everything out of the way early, right?
Once we did get things settled down, the rest of the day ended up being great! So many customers, so many people wanting to talk technology, strategy, positioning, convergence… The traffic stream through the booth was overwhelming at times, even with the team we had there to handle it, and by 2:00pm or so I was reminded why the marketing events are so important in our industry. No where else could we reach so many people in such a short amount of time.
Two final things about day one before I get back to work. First, Amy Lewis is awesome, and the entire Cisco Social Media presence is impressive. The amount of energy she puts into everything is amazing, and while there are many cool things they are doing, the Cisco Services pinball machine is my favorite. Of course I also have the high score, so I’m biased. Aaron Delp talked a big game, but not even his vaunted foot kick could push him into the top spot…
Finally, most of you have probably see the Tweet and picture by now, but we had one of the NetApp FlexPod engineers come over from the booth next door and ask to run through the UIM hands on lab, which of course I was fine by me. I’m not sure of the gentleman’s name, but over the course of the next hour we had a great conversation about the converged infrastructure market and management and orchestration stacks and he even made some suggestions for how we could improve the lab itself which I’ll have in place before the next event. Sure, it was funny to have someone from NetApp asking to go through the lab, but it was a cool move by a smart engineer, and I think everyone came away better and more educated for it. He was definitely a credit to his employer, and if there is anyone else who wants to come over and walk through UIM, please just let me know!
Day 2 is about to start (thank goodness for long cab rides…) so I’ll sign off here. If you are at the event, please swing by the booth and say hi!
VCE is kicking off the year with a blow-out event planned for Cisco Live in London. Having arrived on Sunday morning, the booth-building and setup was in full swing through Monday afternoon.
If you haven’t been to one of the major industry shows lately, VCE has really done a great job of putting together content and people that provide a lot of value. For Cisco Live, in addition to all of the normal content (speaking sessions, breakout areas, partner visibility, etc…) we’ve also introduced a Hands-on-Lab area where attendees can get real stick time with the new version of UIM/P, one of the unique differentiators of the Vblock platform.
The people we bring to these shows are incredible. Most of the field enablement team that I’m part of will be here, with Jae Ellers bringing the VDI, FastPath and Always-On love and Tom “Mr. Vblock” Chatham taking care of the infrastructure and making the magic happen on one of the coolest demos we’ve had in the booth (more on that later). We also have Kenny Coleman and Aaron Delp from the M&O team, and Aaron is also giving one of the sessions, “Converged Infrastructure Platform Management and Orchestration with Cisco’s Intelligent Automation for Cloud” on Tuesday afternoon. Trust me, folks, we don’t bring a marketing crew. There won’t be anyone in the booth who can’t have a technical or business conversation with you about what we do and how we do it.
This event we’ll also be working with our EMC brethren to give everyone a live demo of the joint VCE/EMC Workload Mobility solution using VPLEX between two Vblocks on the floor of the show. Active/active storage (not a stretched array cluster, but one fully redundant array on each side) being used to power a live VMware vSphere environment should be an interesting sight!
If you are at the show this week, stop by and say hi to the team!
Last year, when vLaunchPad kicked off the voting for the 2011 Top 25 VMware Blogs, it was a goldmine for me. As someone who had recently moved from the customer side of the game to a vendor, it was a great way to get exposure to all of the incredible content being generated by some of the smartest people in the business. Now that the voting for 2012 has begun, it’s another chance for me to check in on some of the new people involved in the industry, while acknowledging the people who have provided me the most value in the past year.
There are a bunch of new posts going up this week, with people encouraging voters, listing out their top blog posts of the year, and (of course) suggesting politely that a vote for them would be appreciated. I’d imagine that the traffic bump seen by inclusion on the list is pretty significant, and Eric Siebert has done a great job of making this kind of community feedback process valuable.
That being said, I don’t want your vote. More importantly, I don’t think I’ve earned your vote. Yet.
2011 was easily the most interesting year of my professional career. The move to VCE has been outstanding in almost every way. I’ve met more customers, gotten more perspective, seen more technology, been closer to the leading edge and had more opportunities open up than I ever would have had in my previous job.
I’ve also struggled to stay focused on my blogging efforts. I don’t think I did poorly, but based on the number of blog posts that I currently have in some state of completion (11) I could have done better. I need to go back to setting aside time for research, reading and all of the other parts of the process, if I’m going to continue to improve. I really do the act of creation, and I think I’m doing better finding my voice and my personality on the blog, I just need to put in the hours needed. Like anything, repetition is the key to improvement, and I need more reps.
So rather than listing out my most popular post or pitching you on why you should vote for me, here’s a quick recap of the blogs that got my votes, and why.
First, I think the blogs that you gravitate towards are a personal thing. Not everyone has the same likes and dislikes, and especially when it comes to content consumption, everyone has their own taste. It’s not unlike preference in music when you think about it. Everyone hears things slightly different, and that’s what makes it beautiful. These are my preferences and opinions, but that certainly doesn’t mean yours aren’t valid!
I also made some basic rules for my voting. Quantity and quality are not necessarily related, for sure, but I believe that if you are going to stand out from the enormous pack of content creators you need to have both. If you go three months at a time without posting, even if every post you put up is brilliant, I probably didn’t vote for you. I also think that it’s important to have at least a few posts over the course of the year that really stand out. No one is going to hit a homerun every time, but you need to have cleared the fence a couple times.
My next preference is sure to make me few friends, but I’m also partial to people who work for the companies who make the technology that serves as the basis of our community. Partially that’s because I don’t always understand this niche that exists where people can live in the margins between companies, and partly because I don’t think I understand the concept of “independent” very well. It may mean “unaffiliated with a vendor” but it certainly can’t mean “unbiased”, and if the bias is going to be there without the 1st-hand knowledge of the technology and the roadmap, I think you may run into context issues. The other possibility is that “independent” means “looking out for yourself first” in which case your bias runs towards the people, vendors and projects that pay you, which is the worst possible interpretation of the word, in my mind. Also, I know how hard it is to be objective and provide good content within the structure of NDAs, roadmaps and partner relationships, and I respect those who can do it well. There are lots of people who just end up being shills for their respective companies, but those people seem to get marginalized pretty quickly.
In my opinion, the design of the blog itself matters too. Is it easy to read? Does it have a decent mobile version? Is it easy to comment on posts? Is it searchable? Is there an archive where I can look back by date and topic? I’m sure there are plenty of people out there supplementing their income with ad revenue from their sites, but having your side covered with the same ads from the same companies as everyone else doesn’t do anything for your readers, does it?
Like with music, you need to play the instrument well. Sentences have beginnings, middles, and endings. Punctuation and spelling matter. The voice you use to present your content should be consistent. The content itself needs to be accurate and well researched. It needs to be topical. These are the basics, but they really do matter.
Finally, the only rule is that there are no rules, and some of the people who I respect the most definitely don’t always fit inside my rules. :-)
So without further blathering from me, here’s my Top 10.
#10 – Nick Weaver (http://nickapedia.com/) – A person I wish had more time to blog. Nick isn’t the most prolific, but he’s definitely worth waiting on. He’s all over the board technology-wise, which I can relate to, and from .NET front-ends for customer labs to node.js deployments to UBER tools to Kinect magic to evolutionary modeling of VMs, Nick has written about it all. One day I’ll get him to post the best techniques for opening bottles with rental car door handles, and the his blog will be perfect.
#9 – Chris Colotti (http://www.chriscolotti.us/) – Chris has quickly become one of my go-to resources for anything regarding vCloud technologies. From design to performance to gotchas to implementation, this blog has it all. He also drives Mopar vehicles with large engines, and gets bonus points for that. Chris has really started to find his writing voice, and I’m interested to see how he does in 2012.
#8 – Kendrick Coleman (http://www.kendrickcoleman.com/) – While I’m not the biggest fan of the design, Kendrick’s content more than makes up for it. The free vSphere tools is a long-time favorite, but his VMware-related postings in general over the course of 2011 were top-notch. His posts about vSphere network design and vCloud director were among the best of the year.
#7 – Scott Lowe (http://blog.scottlowe.org/) – My biggest complaint with Scott’s blog is that he doesn’t have more time to stay down in the weeds. When Scott gets rolling on a topic, like he did with FCOE and VxLAN, it’s must-read content for everyone involved in those technologies. The Short Takes are a great collection of links, but Scott’s commentary is equally valuable. The well-written content meshes nicely with the clean design, making this one of my favorites. If we can only find a way to make him write less about Macs… :-)
#6 - Andre Leibovici (http://myvirtualcloud.net/) – I think Andre has progressed more in his blogging in 2011 than anyone else I follow regularly. His content around VDI is well researched, well explained, not afraid to buck convention and as authoritative as anyone out there. In addition, his calculators (View, XenDesktop, Protocol) are must-have references for anyone who deals with VDI technology on a regular basis. I’m very interested to see where some of his less….supported….View projects are going to take him in 2012.
#5 – Christofer Hoff (http://www.rationalsurvivability.com/blog/) – It’s hard to think of this as a “virtualization” blog, because the topics are so wide-ranging. I think of it more as a “shit smart people think about” blog, and that helps me put it in context. In addition to the high-quality of the content, it’s the sense of humor that really makes this blog stand out. Being serious and respectful to the content without being overbearing is no small feat, and really, how can you not like someone who decides that facing off (literally) with Vint Cerf is a good idea?
#4 – Cody Bunch (http://professionalvmware.com/) – The Brownbags are genius. I mean that. Of all the podcast/videocasts/whatever-casts that are out there, none is as practical, applies to as many people or as well executed (even if he does use GoToMeeting) as Cody’s. It doesn’t hurt that the rest of the non-Brownbag content is solid as well, and it really establishes Cody as one of the few “independents” that I read regularly.
#3 – Simon Seagrave – (http://www.techhead.co.uk/) – It’s possible, although unlikely, that Simon’s creation of vBeers would have gotten him on my list regardless. Of course, there’s way more than that. Way, way more. Simon’s blog has so much content, that the lack of a good archive page is almost a benefit: it keeps you from spending too much time browsing. One of the first people in the home vSphere lab discussion, Simon is also a great resource for that topic as well, and one of the people I leaned on most where building out my own lab.
#2 – Eric Sloof (http://www.ntpro.nl/blog/) – It seems like almost every time I need to do a Google search for something regarding virtualization, Eric’s blog comes up. With some of the best videos and walkthroughs in the business, this is another site that you can spend way too much time on. It’s obvious that Eric has deep knowledge of the VMware space, but he also does an excellent job of communicating that knowledge to people.
#1 – Chad Sakac (http://virtualgeek.typepad.com/virtual_geek/) – It was hard getting my top 10 selected, it was not hard to figure out where Chad needed to be on the list. I don’t know where he finds the time to write, nor how he finds the time to stay in the weeds of the technology up to his elbows, but he consistently drops posts that are unique, timely and incredibly valuable. If you are interested in the storage and virtualization technology ecosystems at all, Chad is the place where you hear about the direction the biggest players are headed first. His excitement for his job and the tech comes through loud and clear, and I can’t wait to see what he comes out with in 2012.
Duncan Epping (http://www.yellow-bricks.com/)
William Lam (http://www.virtuallyghetto.com/)
Tommy Trogden (http://vtexan.com/)
Josh Atwell (http://www.vtesseract.com/)
Clint Kitson (http://velemental.com/)
Matt Brender (http://itechthereforeiam.com/)
Jay Cuthrell (http://fudge.org/)
There are so many (SO MANY) smart, talented, community-minded people out there, I’m sure I forgot someone. If so, and if you are that person I forgot, please accept my humblest apologies, and I promise to pick up the tab next time we are in the same place. The thought that there are people out there who look at me the same way I look at the people I’ve listed above, and the realization that I WANT people to look to me that way, are what drives me to be more, and try harder. Thank you all, and go vote!
For the next three weeks VCE is starting off 2012, and celebrating a pretty impressive 2011, by holding a series of sales/technical kickoff meetings in Dallas, Boston and London. These three day gatherings include a number of breakout sessions for the different teams, and include all new collateral, presentations and a first look at some new 2012 secret sauce around the Vblock platforms, where they are going and what we are releasing.
One of the more interesting comments that came out this week was after our CTO, Trey Layton, presented the 2012 “Vblock Value” deck for the assembled crowd. One of our friends from VMware stood up and said the following:
Having sat in on presentations with Dell, HP and IBM, I can tell you that every one of them is presenting this exact same story. You could cut and paste their names over yours, and it would be identical. The difference is that you can actually back up those claims with substance and execution, and they can’t. The trick is helping customers see that, and helping them understand the questions to ask when considering converged infrastructure.
The truth is, as we’ve entered a competitive landscape where there are really only four companies that can offer a true converged infrastructure (VCE, IBM, HP and Oracle), we see more and more how our original talk track from 2010 and early 2011 is being incorporated into the messaging that we see from those competitors today. Partly, that’s awesome: how better to judge the impact you are having on a market than to watch your (much) larger competitors reuse your marketing. Partly, it’s a sign that we need to continually move up and to the right. We aren’t flying under anyone’s radar anymore, and there are sharks in these waters.
To illustrate this point, let’s play a game we played during Michael Capellas’ keynote on the first day of kick-off. We call it: “Who IS That Masked Machine?”
Each of the paragraphs below is an exact cut-and-paste from publicly available sources, which I’ll cite below with the answers. Read the description, think about the messaging that VCE has been putting out for the last two years, and then guess which vendor is involved.
Cloud computing offers many potential benefits, including improved service delivery and reduced operating costs. Yet the challenges of installing and configuring a private cloud platform can be overwhelming. [redacted] provides a preintegrated and preloaded system with software, servers, storage, networking and…services to help you take the guess work out of establishing a private cloud computing environment. [redacted] can help you get up and running in days, not months.
- Preintegrated, service delivery infrastructure accelerates deployment of private cloud
- Sophisticated self-service portal, service catalog and automated workflows to save operating costs
- High-performance and resilient architecture maximizes virtualization efficiency and return on investment
- Automated management and superior reliability minimizes complexity, lowers risk and maintenance costs
- Designed to scale easily to match resources to changing business needs and adapt to new requirements
[redacted] is designed to simplify the deployment of infrastructure, applications and cloud services by delivering IT capacity through pools of readily deployed resources. The goal of [redacted] is to accelerate provisioning, optimize IT capacity across physical and virtual environments and to ensure predictable delivery and service levels.
Dynamic infrastructure provisioning
- Faster time to business value by provisioning services within minutes instead of months
- On-demand storage provisioning in minutes during the deployment of a service
- Improve utilization by enabling users to check out and return resources from a central pool
- Streamline test and development processes by easily converting servers from virtual to physical and back
[redacted] is a complete hardware and software platform for Enterprise applications delivered by [redacted] as pre-assembled building blocks that are easy to buy, deploy and operate.
[redacted] is an Engineered System: an assemblage of best-of-breed storage, compute, network, operating system and software products that are integrated, tested, tuned, optimized, delivered and supported by [redacted] as a single factory-assembled unit.
[redacted] is designed to provide extreme high performance, reliability, ease-of-use and versatility without being a proprietary, closed system with high total cost of ownership and vendor lock-in. [redacted] is everything enterprises love about both mainframes and open systems with none of the stuff they don't. [redacted] is the realization of a new way of looking at the role of IT in the modern enterprise.
- Fully integrated compute nodes, storage and networking
- Fully integrated…network attached storage appliance with 40TB of SAS disk storage
- …IO Fabric, with 40 Gb/second throughput and microsecond latencies
- Data center service network integration with 10 GbE
Wow. I understand that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but I think some people need to send flowers to the VCE marketing team. At least a thank you would be nice. So who are our masked machines? Were you able to guess? I left some clues in there to give you a few hints.
The use of the word “services” multiple times definitely gives this one away, I know. Let’s give IBM credit where it’s due: they were very, very early out of the gate (June, 2009) with the concept of a converged infrastructure, largely based on the strength of their services arm. With Cisco announcing their entry into the x86 server market in March of that same year, and with the first of the V+C+E implementations starting to roll out, IBM reacted far quicker than the rest of the industry to the coming threat. Their ace in the hole is now, and always will be, their services arm which is the class of the world. Understand that the acquisitions of Perot Systems and EDS by Dell and HP respectively were intended to try and balance the scales that were tipped heavily in IBMs favor because of the Global Services organization.
HP was particularly late to the converged infrastructure game, and they arguably needed to do the most catching up from a technology standpoint. Rocked by the Cisco entry into their backyard, HP responded by buying 3COM in April, 2010. Most of us questioned the idea of HP paying $2.7B to acquire a networking vendor who had once famously exited the core router/switch market because they couldn’t get any traction, just so that they could offer an alternative to Cisco, a company who dominated that same market. I’ve heard claims that HP is 100% 3COM in their data centers, and I can tell you that they are the only company I’ve ever heard of who make that claim. After declaring war on Cisco, HP went to work replacing other parts of their portfolio that needed refreshing. In October of 2010 they replaced the aging, underwhelming EVA storage line with the acquisition of 3Par, and using the previous acquisition of Opsware, started putting together a converged infrastructure of their own. Finally, in June of 2011, HP released the Converged Systems portfolio that we know today.
Oracle, looking to lock customers into more support dollars than just the application stacks they already owned, bought Sun Microsystems in January of 2010. Using that acquisition they pulled one of the most drastic flip-flops in the history of technology and went to market with Exalogic in September of that same year. Sun hardware? Sun STORAGE? Interesting. Oracle, to their credit, is able to build hardware that services the exact performance needs of the application stack (because they ARE the application stack), but as customers look more and more to a multi-use infrastructure, having to manage hardware that is limited to a single platform use-case is challenging. In contrast, Oracle on VMware in general and Oracle on Vblock specifically are two of the fastest growing segments of the VMware/VCE business.
In my opinion, these are the only three companies that are, today, providing offerings that are competitive with VCE, and they will be the ones we discuss in this series going forward. Dell may enter into this space at some point (I expect them to), but there are too many holes in both their product offerings and their go-to-market to spend a lot of time on them now. Reference Architecture-based products are similarly discounted, since building something on your own is exactly what we are getting away from with the concept of a converged infrastructure.
If you look at the timeline, there has been a tremendous amounts of partnering and acquisition since VCE was formally introduced in late 2009. It’s very fun to be on the leading edge of something this big, and it’s gratifying to see our efforts moving the needle across the industry, but I know there are a lot of moving parts. Especially for companies whose core competency isn’t IT, and who don’t want to make a huge investment in that space, there’s a opportunity for us to better explain the landscape, the challenges and the opportunities.
So with all that said, the plan is to write a series of blog posts helping customers figure out how to move forward. Everyone focuses on the management aspect, but I think there are many companies out there who don’t understand the complexity of choosing a platform, streamlining a business model around a platform, building a team to support the platform and leveraging that platform across application teams. So in the spirit of education, we’ll go through the following topics together:
How To: Choose the Right Converged Infrastructure
How To: Use a Converged Infrastructure to Generate Revenue
How To: Maximize Operational Efficiency with a Converged Infrastructure
How To: Build a Converged IT Operations Team
How To: Optimize a Converged Infrastructure for Multiple Workloads
How To: Choose a Management and Orchestration Strategy
Are there other topics that need to be covered? Let me know in the comments below, and if there’s enough interest we can add them. The goal here is for everyone to better understand the lay of the land in order to make better decisions going forward. With some of the announcements that VCE has queued up for the first half of 2012, I’m very much looking forward to walking through these topics and more!
What do you think? Is the idea of a converged infrastructure a fundamental shift in how hardware is managed, consumed and acquired? Or is it simply a part of the larger business cycle in an environment where capital availability has its highs and lows? Comments are always welcome (with company disclosure if appropriate) below!
I think it’s because of the many, many years that I spent playing and managing baseball, but I’ve always been interested in the concept of teams, and the art/science behind building them. Much like a baseball team, where different positions require different skillsets and personalities, enterprises today also require a mix of people with different perspectives to be successful Determining what you want the framework of that team to look like, deciding how the people you already have are going to fit (or not fit), putting together a process for finding the right combination of personality and talent to round out the group and getting everyone to mesh and become more than the sum of their parts is a process I’ve had the opportunity to undertake a number of times in my career and I love it. As much as I enjoy my position now as an individual contributor and I appreciate VCE giving me the time I asked for to recover from my last job, I can’t wait to have the chance to move back into a position where team building is required.
Of course, for every good team, comprised of good teammates, there are bad teams and bad teammates. Nothing can hurt the overall success of a company, team or project more than a lack of teamwork, and it’s important to look around at where you are and try to figure out if you are part of the problem or part of the solution. No matter where you are, or what you do as an individual contributor, your responsibility is to make the people above you successful. I don’t care if you don’t like your boss, I don’t care if you are more qualified than your position demands, your job is to ensure that you are doing everything you can to make your team successful.
In “Rounders”, Mike McDermott says “If you can't spot the sucker in the first half hour at the table, then you ARE the sucker.” I say the same thing holds true for teams: If you can’t see the part of your team that needs improvement, it’s possible YOU are the part that needs it! Luckily, improving yourself as a teammate is something we should all be doing ALL the time, so there’s no shame in seeing, or being told, that you have work to do.
In my opinion there are two kinds of teammates you need to watch out for. The first is the guy who confuses talking loudly with leading. You know this guy: it’s all about him. Regardless of his role it’s always “his” team. It’s always about what project he’s working , or what customer he’s engaged with. He uses the word “I” incessantly in internal communication. He’s probably not a bad guy, and he’s definitely smart, but he doesn’t make the whole team better because he isn’t leading them anywhere, he’s just yelling about where he’s been, and where he’s going.
The other kind of teammate that worries me is the malcontent who acts like a cancer, hurting the team from the inside out. You know this guy too: he’s the one who’s always putting the team, and his teammates down, sometimes without even realizing it. “You know what, I’ll just do it myself” may be the single worst thing that a teammate can ever say. There are many reasons why one of your teammates could be unhappy, but ultimately few of them matter. If you can’t come to the group prepared to leave your individual issues at the door and further the cause of making the people above you successful, you aren’t helping the cause.
I’m an optimist, so I think even these kinds of teammates just aren’t self-aware enough to know they are causing a problem, so how can you help them? Here’s some rules I’ve learned throughout my team-building career that may help:
How about for you managers out there, new and old? Well the ability to have a successful team begins with you! Here are some things I’ve learned about building teams that may help:
What do you think? How does your team stack up? What are the best and worst teams you’ve been part of? Are you a good teammate or manager? How can you help your team be better? Feel free to join the discussion in the comments below, and for all of you in the US enjoy the rest of your long holiday weekend!
Much like my trip to Copenhagen for VMworld 2011, it was very interesting to be able to support the VCE event marketing team at CA World to see how different groups of people respond to the VCE story. Most of the events we go to are, for obvious reasons, infrastructure focused, so it was very interesting to meet and talk to people who live further (sometimes MUCH further) up the stack than that. The takeaways were surprising.
First, both the CA team and the CA World event were absolutely top notch, The general session on Sunday evening with Bill McCraken (CA CEO), Michael Capellas (VCE Chairman), Vivek Kundra (First CIO of the US) and Randi Zuckerberg was outstanding. The level of discussion and the collective knowledge on the panel was excellent. I’ve never attended a kick-off keynote on a Sunday evening before, but this one was definitely worth it.
VCE occupied a very interesting place in this conference. First, we were the only infrastructure company to have a full converged stack on the floor, and thanks to our Platinum sponsorship we were right up front and center. The irony was that it seemed like most of the attendees were a little intimidated by the racks on display. Where as at EMC World, VMworld and Cisco Live there are people crawling in, over and around the cabinets asking questions, almost every question we got at CA World was about how the infrastructure fit into a larger picture. I loved it. People wanted to know about the solutions that were supported, the intersection with the CA product sets and how both could be leveraged together. We did a ton of VDI sessions as well as a lot of orchestration and management demos, all of the running right on the Vblock in the booth. It was a very different audience and experience than the other shows, but it had a rhythm and pace all of its own, and it was a welcome change.
Of course, it’s always fun to talk to customers when you have such an incredibly compelling story. The CA/VCE partnership is in many ways a model for how a converged infrastructure can enable the business processed that the customer needs to maintain without forcing a greenfield approach. In the slide on the left we see how core (and relatively small) a role the actual infrastructure plays in the overall framework here, and that’s as it should be. We aren’t doing IT for the sake of IT, we are doing it for the end users and their applications, and anything that takes the focus away from that isn’t needed or relevant. From security, performance and SLA monitoring and alerting, automation and orchestration and business service modeling and management, the integration between CA and VCE is top-notch and I’m very excited to see where we go from here, and how we can help make each other better.
I also got a chance (finally!) to be part of the Cloudcast podcast series, and Aaron Delp and I got to sit down with Andi Mann from CA and talk about consumption models, trends that are starting to show and a good bit about Andi’s background and career. What a cool, smart guy. Totally enjoyed it and I’m hoping I get invited to do the podcast again at some point. If you are interested, you can check it out here.
To put it bluntly, VCE has kicked ass at all of the events that we’ve attended this year. With it being our first year in the ring, so to speak, we did a lot of learning, a lot of guessing and hoping, and a lot of busting our butts to make sure the story got out to the people. VCE exceeded every single metric we set as a target for those events, and there’s a fantastic group of people who’ve made that happen. Most of the credit goes to Mary Martinez, Jeff Siteman and Tina McNulty from the marketing team. They had a vision for these events and have worked tirelessly to make it happen. There’s also an incredible core group of vArchitects who volunteered to be in the foxhole together, and have been able to react to any situation and pull off what sometimes seemed impossible. Tom Chatham (Mr. Vblock), Jae Ellers, Jay Cuthrell and Aaron Delp are all complete rock stars, and getting to watch them work with customers at these events is awesome. Our booth is ridiculous. Rarely is there anyone on a conference floor who can match the functionality of the VCE setup with the awesome visuals. Having a fully functional, live Vblock in the middle of the booth has become a staple of the setup, and the customers love it. If you are a competitor who is handing out collateral at a tiny booth at these shows, we have been, and will continue to eat your lunch. Fair warning, it only gets more awesome for us from here.
Of course no good deed goes unpunished, and so we’ve been given an even higher bar to clear in 2012. The team will more than triple the number of events we participate at, and VCE is making a huge investment in that. More Vblocks, more staff, more demos, more [redacted]. It’s going to be awesome, and I can’t wait to see how it unfolds. The 2012 year will start in London with Cisco Live, and we are working furiously behind the scenes to roll out a couple surprises for everyone. Stay tuned and I hope to see you at one of the events in 2012!
Listen, I’ll acknowledge right up front that the premise of the title of this post is ridiculous. But considering some of the other more outlandish and dogmatic arguments I’ve seen around the topic of AWS and it’s position in the IaaS market lately, maybe it’s not that out of place. Let’s all take a deep breath and see what’s going on here…
Part of why I love Twitter is because it’s an organic place where a conversation can unfold, either in real-time or after the fact. You can catch a snippet of a thread, dig through the multiple conversations that got the discussion to that point and watch the multiple players as they respond. Last night, somehow, the topic was how every IaaS provider and customer was somehow competing with AWS, whether they liked it or not, and as part of that thread the following statement was made by George Reese, CTO of enStratus:
While this was one of the more sound-byte worth comments in the thread, the basic premise (as I understand it) was that AWS has become the defacto standard for all IaaS deployments anywhere, and in achieving this milestone they have set the bar for business model, features, price and functionality in many ways. Here’s another good quote from the thread from Randy Bias over at Cloudscaling:
Now, I’ve never met Randy (and I hope to), but from what I’ve seen he’s possibly the biggest AWS fan on the face of the planet, at least that I’ve ever met. Whether it’s calling them a “runaway train” and predicting $16B in revenues or calling them a “game changer” and “the primary measuring stick for all IaaS”, Randy obviously likes what he sees. Every option, has at it’s core an assumption (or many), and I think that’s where my thinking about AWS and IaaS in general diverges from Sirs Reese and Bias. This notion that the buyer of technology services is shifting from IT to application developers just isn’t one that I see regularly as I talk to both enterprises and service providers. I even forgive Randy and George for picking on VCE and the Vblock specifically, since I’ve learned that’s just what happens when you are the most recognizable and successful entry into any marketplace.
In every one of these discussions, I see the same names brought up as proof-points: Amazon, Google, Netflix, Salesforce.com, Facebook... What I don’t understand is how some of these companies even end up being part of the discussion, especially when the topic is a comparison to enterprise IT. How many times do we have to rehash the fact that Facebook isn’t representative of IT, at least not it’s massive, public-facing side? It’s a single application, scaled to incredible size, ditto for Salesforce.com and Netflix. That’s not IT, where there can be dozens of applications sitting side-by-side, some developed in-house, some bought off the shelf, each one having it’s own development and maintenance cycle. You can’t, I repeat, CAN’T, put that kind of workload footprint in the cloud. And for anyone who says “legacy is shit, you need to start developing your way out of that hole” I tell you to wake up and look at the reality of today.
Would it be great if every enterprise had every application they needed developed in-house and/or on a common platform with all of the resiliency, redundancy and availability built in? Abso-frickin-loutely. THAT would be a game changer. It would change the basic premise under which the concept of application delivery would run, and (finally) put all of the focus on the apps and the customer experience, where it belongs.
HOWEVER, even that drastic a departure from reality wouldn’t change either the overall IaaS market, or the opportunities that exist for the service provider community. Some people are going to want/need to run the infrastructure inside their own firewall, some people are going to want to outsource it. Some people will need to build data centers, some people won’t. Hell, some people will be good at building enterprise-class, “cloud-ready apps” and some won’t, and those that won’t will want help. Hopefully, most enterprises will stay as close to their core competency as they can, and give away those functions that don’t need to be part of the business model.
So with all of that said, could one of these magic unicorn clouds, internal or external be hosted on a Vblock (or any other converged infrastructure stack)? Of course it could. Would a service provider choose to host their magic unicorn service on a Vblock? Of course they could. How is this possible? Because I dispute the basis of the argument that AWS and their disciples put out: limiting functionality, putting the onus for availability and driving the cost of resources to the lowest possible point by using commodity hardware with a high rate of failure isn’t what the enterprise market demands. It just isn’t. Yet. Now, you could (and should as a good skeptic) argue that Randy and George are pushing a business model that ultimately meshes with their respective companies, and that I am pushing one that meshes with mine, and that would be very fair. After all, if you don’t know any of us how do you trust our motivations? In return I’d ask you this: what are YOU seeing in YOUR enterprise? What are you hearing about in others? What are you seeing out of the Federal government space? What are you hearing from your security and compliance teams? At the end of the day, however unwelcome it may be, reality is what it is, and the reality where IT is even MOST of that way towards a completely programmatic consumption mode is just fiction. Chris Hoff with Juniper Networks summed it up well later in the conversation when he said:
I certainly agree, AWS has had an impact on the market mostly because they introduced the world to a new way of consumption, one that didn’t necessarily exist before. For those enterprises who needed it, AWS was a great new answer. You can’t ignore their growth or their level of innovation, and I can’t help but be impressed by both.
Of course, in my heart of hearts, I lament the fact that we live in this reality. Having been an end user, service provider, and infrastructure vendor, I hate that we have to abstract and virtualize our way around the legacy limitations of our collective IT past. No application user has ever cared about the brand of fabric switch or server that was used. They want a good experience with the applications they need, and that’s it. Everything else is secondary to them, but unfortunately it will take some time for the enterprise to catch up and be able to focus the lion’s share of their attention and resources in that direction. Reality is what it is, not what we wish it to be.
What do you think? On a continuum from legacy to fully public cloud where is your company? Where are you moving to be? Does the term IaaS need to have some additional context to it so that we don’t conflate one kind of consumption model with another? Disclosure of affiliations and common courtesy is always appreciated in the comments!