Monthly Archives: June 2014

Facebook Hastens the Era of Open Source Hardware

By | June 23, 2014

If necessity is the mother of invention, then the need for cheap, efficient, compact servers and network equipment has made Facebook an innovator of gear optimized for cloud data centers and workloads. It’s leadership in the development of standard, hyper scale hardware using interchangeable commodity components led to the Open Compute Project (OCP), bootstrapped by designs and hardware specifications intended for Facebook’s first data center. Two years and five Open Compute Summits later, the project has over 150 members and a growing list of technical specs.


Facebook isn’t stopping with custom servers and it’s just pushed open source hardware disruption to a realm of data center infrastructure that once seemed untouchable by the forces of commodification: networking. By announcing a top-of-rack (ToR) switch and associated OS, code-named Wedge and FBOSS respectively, Facebook could do for network hardware what white box Intel servers with a LAMP stack (Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP or Python) did for cloud servers. Read more in my Forbes column.


Hybrid Clouds: What Are They Good For?

By | June 22, 2014

IT faces a high-stakes decision: Which workloads to run on public versus private infrastructure. I analyze what 383 survey responses from IT pros in this report.

Hybrid cloud has been a headliner topic at almost every major IT event this year, whether it’s Microsoft beefing up Azure at TechEd, EMC and VMware making hybrid products and a joint reference design a centerpiece of keynotes at EMC World, or IBM announcing OpenStack hybrid support for Cloud Manager.

Hybrid cloud report cover

To listen to these vendors, hybrid cloud is the new de facto standard data center architecture, and anyone not shuttling workloads back and forth is falling behind. But what do IT leaders making those data center decisions think? And are they right? This report is my analysis of hybrid cloud usage and how best to incorporate a public/private cloud architecture into enterprise IT infrastructure.

Proprietary vs. Open Source Clouds: Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?

By | June 18, 2014

In my last Forbes column I discussed how Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst and other open source advocates see the disruption created by cloud software and services as the business opportunity of a generation. Yet like most other IT revolutions, the cloud confronts legacy infrastructure, entrenched bureaucracies and incumbent vendors like MicrosoftOracle and VMware are rapidly evolving their software platforms into enterprise cloud stacks. No one, boosters like Whitehurst included, see enterprises ditching still new virtualization platforms like vSphere and Hyper-V for shiny new OpenStack clouds. IT infrastructure is much too persistent and enmeshed in critical business processes for such radical change to occur overnight; just look at mainframe sales in the face of  a couple of decades progress in commodity x86 servers.


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Companies like Red Hat in the business of selling and supporting open source software to enterprises understand the sales environment and IT decision process, which is likely one reason Whitehurst has a more realistic view of how OpenStack can infiltrate big business: not through displacement, but supplementation.

This column looks at the advantages of and momentum behind open source cloud software, including disruptive new application containeriztion technology that could reshape cloud architectures, and how it is earning a place alongside vSphere and Windows Hyper-V in large enterprises

5 Hybrid Cloud Gotchas

By | June 11, 2014

Mixing public and private can deliver the best of both cloud worlds. But beware management complexity, cost volatility, data protection, and other potential snafus.tScreen Shot 2014-06-11 at 1.18.24 PM,

Hybrid clouds are the future of enterprise computing. Forty-seven percent of the nearly 400 respondents to InformationWeek’s new Hybrid Cloud Survey have implemented or are actively piloting or developing private clouds, with an additional 33% considering. The majority of that 47% have or are developing hybrid systems, in which workloads can shuttle to public cloud services like Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, IBM SoftLayer, or Microsoft Azure. The downside to hybrid clouds is that this is a new model, and it inherits many of the problems besetting both private and public clouds.

Unfortunately, there’s still no such thing as a free lunch. Hybrid clouds are more difficult to design, integrate, manage, monitor, and secure. They’re almost guaranteed to create friction between siloed IT groups. And unless workloads are well understood and carefully watched, they can generate cost spikes that wipe out expected savings.

In this report I lay out key challenges and considerations when building a hybrid cloud.

Red Hat’s CEO Sees Open Source Cloud Domination

By | June 8, 2014

redhat-logoRed Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst sees the business opportunity of a generation in what he calls a computing paradigm shift from client-server to cloud architectures. “In those paradigm shifts, generally new winners emerge,” says Whitehurst and he intends to make sure Red Hat is one of those winners. His logic is sound and simple: disruptive technologies like tRH_NEXT_HS-JIM-W-01he cloud that arise every couple of decades level the playing field between large, established firms and smaller, innovative challengers since everyone, from corporate behemoth to a couple of guys in a garage, starts from the same spot and must play by the same unfamiliar and changeable rules. With the cloud “there’s less of an installed based and an opportunity for new winners to be chosen,” Whitehurst adds. His mission is “to see that open source is the default choice for next generation architecture” and that Red Hat is the preferred choice, particularly for enterprise IT, of open source providers.

In this column, I outline his case for open source dominating the cloud, which rests on the fact that it’s already the foundation for many popular cloud services and enterprise applications, and his strategy for translating Red Hat’s Linux success to OpenStack and enterprise clouds.

Cloud Turbulence: Feature Creep Means New Clashes in the Cloud Market

By | June 4, 2014

As cloud services mature and add features, they increasingly overlap, signaling heightened competition in both the consumer and enterprise markets. Smaller cloud players must be nimble and adaptive to avoid getting trampled.

The cloud is the latest battleground of the tech titans across the spectrum of enterprise and consumer business, but maturation, a desire for market hegemony and technology evolution naturally lead to new features and that means formerly disparate services are encroaching upon one another. The last week has provided two great examples.

First came Amazon releasing an AWS management plug-in for VMware vCenter that allow migrating VMs to AWS and managing them from within a familiar interface. This enterprise cloud clash was followed by Apple announcing significant enhancements to it iOS APIs and iCloud service that both plug long-standing shortcomings and put it in direct competition with popular cloud file storage services like Dropbox, Box and Google Drive and also mobile cloud backend-as-a-service providers. Read more in this column where I explain the changing atmosphere stoking cloud competition.

Apple-Beats Deal Epitomizes the Preeminence of Design Over Technology

By | June 2, 2014

Commodification means we’re leaving the era of technology and entering the era of design and style

Apple’s $3 billion acquisition of Beats is an event that highlights technology’s march through consumer products, creative content and now, fashionable style. More importantly, the deal demonstrates the ascendance of design over technology, form over function, style over features.

In the era of semiconductor foundries, mega contract manufacturers, cloud software and a global logistics ecosystem, technology is seldom a product differentiator. In this column, I explain how Apple and Beats illustrates the growing importance of design (both hardware and software), usability and hipness in technology products. As with nearly everything Apple does, expect to see other emulate the strategy.