A juxtaposition of events last week saw several major technology companies reveal key strategies and product updates that collectively served to illustrate the ongoing struggles of old tech blue bloods from the client-server era striving for relevance in the world of mobile devices, social software, cloud services and big data analytics. Together, this amalgam of technologies are the foundation for so-called Platform 3.0 applications and as EMC’s president of products and marketing, Jeremy Burton, told attendees at EMC World this week, building them requires new approaches to application architecture and infrastructure hardware. While EMC executives spent much time explaining the business imperatives for a new generation of distributed, inherently resilient scale out platforms, the company isn’t about to give up on the legacy systems still running most enterprises: and neither is Intel, whose own announcement of a new generation of the E7 series processors focused on decidedly traditional workloads and system designs.
While EMC walked the tightrope by repeatedly explaining that VXRACK, a new line of hyperconverged rack-scale, cloud-ready systems, in no way a replaces its VCE VBlock big iron, Intel was squarely focused on its own mainframe-class x86 processor, the E7, a chip that not-coincidentally powers all but the smallest VBlock configurations. Together, both announcements served notice that while the future may belong to warehouse-scale distributed cloud infrastructure, large, monolithic systems and applications aren’t going away anytime soon. For both companies, the message is about choice: delivering the right technology, optimized for particular types of workloads.
I explain why in the rest of this column and explain which workloads still need a scale-up hardware design.