Eye on Blades Blog: Trends in Infrastructure
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Displaying articles for: January 2009

The data center vision you can buy

The late 1990's were fun.  We had Pokeman, Pottermania, and this new virus called Reality TV.  Oh, and how can we forget the IT vision-du-jour from every tech vendor under the sun who promised to define the future of the data center.  Signed, sealed, but not quite delivered.  When that became obvious, the "IT Journey" gained in popularity.  Then the bubble hit and I honestly thought this strange vision quest for what we lame marketers call "thought leadership" was going to go the way of AOL. 


Well, I got it part right.  Some of us stopped focusing only on the vision thing and more the delivery thing.  That was pretty clear to James Stanten too the other day when he took a whirlwind tour of the IT visions that are still around.  The fact is, we've been at this Adaptive Infrastructure for quite a long time.  The cool thing is it's getting very real for our customers.  I'm glad now we stuck with it.


Last week was another big step when we delivered Insight Orchestration and Recovery to our Adaptive Infrastructure arsenal. Or as James put it "All these announcements add significant meat to Adaptive Infrastructure, which is one of the few visions you can actually implement today."


As a marketeer, I can tell you it's much more fun working on something that's real than something that might be, someday.

Has anyone seen a Mainframe?

There is a phrase I learned while in Texas called “lipsticking a pig."  It's the art of making something out to be a lot better than it really is.


With this in mind, I was to read the prepared remarks from IBM’s latest earnings release. IBM’s Systems and Technology business declined by -20% year on year, with the System x business down -32% and Blades down -27%. IBM did provide some explanation for this year over year drop of almost one third by saying customers were moving to mainframes.



"System x server revenue declined 32 percent year to year, with blades down 27 percent. This reflects a significant slowdown in the x86 market, as customers are virtualizing and consolidating workloads into more efficient platforms such as POWER and mainframe." *

There's only one problem: the System z (Mainframes) saw a decline of -6% so somehow the numbers do not quite add up. I would like to offer an alternative view on IBM’s decline in blades business. Take a look at the chart below of blade revenue market share taken from IDC’s latest Server Tracker in CQ308 and you can make your own conclusions:    blademsharecq308

*http://www.ibm.com/investor/4q08/presentation/4q08prepared.pdf

Labels: market share

Server Product of the Year!

prodOFYear_logo_2008

We have to pause and bow to our NonStop brethren who took home the GOLD in SearchDataCenter.com's products of the year.  Especially sweet is they knocked off the IBM z10 mainframe.


I know we tend to be a little controverstial over the years with our "Blade Everything" strategy (it really got under the rack server skin of our Dell buddies), but the NonStop BladeSystem should really bring our strategy home for you. 


The fact that the new NonStop takes advantage of a BladeSystem architecture is not what makes the product rock.  Guts are guts.  It's the brains and nervous system the NonStop team was able to build on top of it that make this solution stand out as the tops in the industry.  The fact we bladed the NonStop just adds a killer value proposition for you: 


2x the performance. 1/2 the footprint. 100% NonStop! 


You gotta love it.


 

9 Trends in 2009: What's Hot and What's Not in the Data Center

We can’t let Illuminata, Gartner, IDC and Forrester have all the fun, so we sat down and came up with our own "What’s Hot and What’s Not in the Data Center" list for 2009. Ice_Fire(17-11-02)-19
NOTE:  This blog post will self-destruct on December 31, 2009 should anyone feel the need to analyze our prognosticating skills in 2010. 

1. Power as a resource is HOT.  Power as a commodity is NOT.  If you knew your old refrigerator in the garage was sucking fifty bucks in juice a month, you’d pitch it or replace it, right? The problem is; you have no idea how much power it costs you.  In 2010, you’ll never think about power in the same way.  It’s no longer just a spigot of electrons with a bill that goes to the suits upstairs.  Power is a precious resource to your data center and a big part of your budget that stands in the way of growth in 2010.  “You can’t manage what you can’t measure”, so 2009 is the time to start measuring your power usage in detail so you understand what you need, what you have and what you’re wasting.  


 

2. TCO is HOT.  TCO is NOT.  Huh?  TCO will be reprioritized in 2009. Take Cost Out is the new TCO.  Okay, we don’t want to overplay this one.  Of course you want to be as efficient as possible down the road once the 2009 storm passes.  However, if you’re ever going to get there, you have to take cost out now.  That’s going to mean you have to make tough choices and some big leaps forward in order to put in place an infrastructure that can deliver savings today and be ready for tomorrow.  We believe very few stones will be left unturned in 2009 as businesses scourer their data center to find hidden pockets of cost – cables, steps in processes, HA, fibre channel, aging servers, wasted watts, unused A/C – nothing can hide from the new TCO.  Those trying to limp through 2009 by patching up some aging technologies will find themselves in world of hurt in 2010.  

3. Knowing is HOT.  Guessing is NOT.
  Whether you’re talking capacity planning for your apps and virtual machines, the power and breaker size you need per rack or the storage for your data explosion, using the old ‘rules of thumb’ for quarterly budgets aren't going to cut it in 2009.  Getting better data out of every circuit board that you can then use to take informed action will be critical to justify growth and to help you squeeze the most cost out from your consolidation projects.

4. Packaged infrastructure is HOT. Piecemeal infrastructure is NOT.
Sorry IBM, the mainframe isn’t part of this one.  We’re talking about pooled and shared infrastructure based on industry standard components.  We think you’ll see more packaged infrastructure solutions tailor-made to different applications and environments whether it’s a rack at a time for mega clusters or a unified communication platform for a small branch office. You already see it with ExDS, BladeSystems, PODs, NeoView, NonStop blades; the trend is probably already here but it’s going to really take off in 2009. The idea is simplified delivery, integration and expansion.  You just won’t have the time in 2009 to try and figure out how to get widget A to talk to widget B.   

5. Unified is HOT.  Siloed is NOT.
 Whether it’s Cisco, Microsoft, IBM or us, the vision of unified infrastructure is clearly our shared goal.  We just have different names for it.  The only question is how do we make progress in 2009?  We know one thing for sure; you can’t get there by forcing the perspective one silo one on another.  Network packets won’t unify your infrastructure any more than processor architectures will.  The only path to the unification you seek is from the top down starting at business and application services.  Understanding and managing in a unified way provides a different perspective on what tomorrow’s infrastructure looks like.  When you recognize that, you see that the center of the universe can’t be found inside the network, the storage or the servers. It’s at the business level.  

6. Performance per sq ft, per dollar per watt is HOT.  Moore’s Law is NOT.
  The days of chasing the tail of processor performance are quaint, but the new global economic reality will create a whole new class of benchmarks to help you better compare your choices.  Whether your issue is space, power or cost, you’ll be empowered in 2009 with a whole new set of much more relevant benchmarks to see where you stand.  SPECPower, VMmark and others are just scratching the surface of what will be a renaissance in data center metrics.  

7. DAS is HOT.  SAN is NOT. 
Okay, okay.  The SAN isn’t going anywhere.  But there will be a lot more choices in 2009 that flip the economics of storage on their head and put server admins in more control of their storage needs.  Last night I was browsing for some home storage backup and came across a deal for a 1TB home back-up for $149.  Buying your first TB in a traditional SAN will set you back $30 to $50k.  (Calvin Z's going to kill me).  Basically, storage is delivered by drives.  Shouldn’t you be able to pile up all the drives you have, DAS or otherwise and carve up that capacity how you see fit?  Check out some of the cool stuff we can do now with LeftHand’s innovations and you’ll see what we mean.  

8. Virtual infrastructure is HOT.  Virtual machines are NOT.
 Or said another way, “Virtualization is dead!  Long live virtualization”.  2009 will shift priorities from optimizing server capacity with virtual machines to looking for new opportunities at the server edge to extend the savings and consolidation to the network, management and storage realms.  Virtual infrastructure will be the new mantra and managing it, coordinating it and aligning it to the business will be the key.  In 2009 more people will think differently about infrastructure as service and something that you simply carve up and allocate capacity based on your demands.  It aligns to you, not the other way around.  With this in place, automation starts getting real too! 

9. Dynamic Core Utilization is HOT.  Multi-core apps running one application is NOT.
 This one almost fell to runner up status simply because it was a mouthful and a little geeky, but we needed 9 things.  Seriously though, the flexibility to adjust core utilization to match a workload has been a long time coming for the x86 world.  As 2009 starts to move us beyond quad-core processors, it makes no sense to continue the old, tried-and-true practice of one app per server.    

The runners up:
  

Dynamic Power Capping is HOT.  Power Face Plates are NOT.
 This one can be summarized above with “Knowing vs. Guessing”.  The low hanging fruit for reducing power consumption is just about gone.  It’s going to take more intelligence and coordination at the rack, row and datacenter level. The ability to reclaim data center capacity simply be allocating only the power you need makes too much sense to not make our list.  

Converged Fabrics are HOT.  Silo’d I/O traffic is NOT.
 Talk about an oldie but a goody, this one might start to make it over this hump this year. Aggregation of I/O to a single physical layer ushers in a whole new opportunity to simplify and cut big costs.  See most of the bigger trends we mentioned above and you see that this one is key.  

Industry standard gear for Telco is HOT.  Telco-only gear is NOT.
  Ah, one of the last bastions of proprietary gear. This one has been predicted so often, it fell to runner-up.  But the slow march continues and we think 2009 will speed things up a lot as more telcos start to see the benefits of gear like blades and standard rack servers on their balance sheet.  

Battery back-up at the rack is HOT.  UPS rooms are NOT.
  Nice idea that just doesn’t make as much sense as folks thought.  Hogs of data center floor space, budget and that nasty little 10% loss in efficiency make this one at least worth of the runner-up list.  

Blades are HOT.  Mainframes are NOT.
  Give me a break. We are the HP Blade Team. It just wouldn’t be an IT hot/not list without one little jab at poor Big Blue. ;-) 

 


We’d love to hear from you.  Tell us what you think about this list and share what’s on your HOT and NOT to-do list for 2009.

10 Reasons to Invest in Blade Servers in a Recession

I did some quick research on how a business best survives a recession.  Then I picked what I thought was the best advice of what to do and not to do and applied it to blade servers.  Whether you care about blades or not, there is some really good advice below that applies to any business.


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1.  Work harder!  I'm not trying to be mean.  My point is to work harder to uncover exactly where you are wasting most of your dollars and time. 


I'd like to hear your ideas.  Is 2009 the right or the wrong time to move to blades?


 


Although our president is still hesitant to mention the "R" word, the general consensus of the financial "talking heads" on news programs have stepped out and think we're already there. Depending on what's happening in your business, you probably feel the same way too. Everyone is squeezed and it's not a good feeling. You need to take specific steps if your business is hard hit by this economic downturn.


It is only natural to revisit your overall business strategy when market conditions change. Duncan MacPherson, co-author of Breakthrough Business Development and co-founder of Pareto Platform, an industry leading business development firm that helps entrepreneurs improve their practice management and business development systems, has the following advice for growing your business during times of turbulence in the economy.
 
Maintain your fees and pricing: Remember, you are trying to attract great clients not chase them.  By lowering your price, prospective customers tend to start focusing on your cost rather than your worth; such an approach can come off as projecting a reactive, and even desperate vibe to the marketplace. You don’t want to ask clients to buy something, you want them to buy into something - a mutually beneficial, long term relationship.
 
Turn your clients into advocates:  If your clients cannot describe you to you, they cannot describe you to a friend.  Make sure that your clients know and like what you do for them.
 
Convert your existing clients into referral-generating advocates: As a business, you are at your highest level of refer-ability during times of uncertainty in the marketplace.  The best way to convince new prospects to utilize your services, is to spend more time with the people who are already convinced.  In times of uncertainty in the market,  many of your competitors are neglecting their clients as they attempt to actively recruit new business.  If a client truly believes in your services, the likelihood that he/she will recommend you to his/her friend is extremely high. 
 
Launch a simple call rotation campaign to the 20 percent of your clients who generate 80 percent of your business to touch base with them and ask how they are doing: You aren't trying to sell anything or be the bearer of any profound news, just placing a courtesy call. As the conversation is winding down, simply remind your clients that as a value added service, you make yourself available to answer any questions that their friends or family members might have regarding your type of services.  Simply planting the seed and opening up the option gets the concept of referrals imbedded in your clients’ minds so that they may respond when the opportunity presents itself, without making you appear needy or putting them on the spot.
 
Explain how your services are especially beneficial during times uncertainty in the economy:  People are generally reluctant to enlist outside services during tough times especially when there is a cost involved.  Outline the short and long-term benefits of your services to make yourself indispensable. 
 
Your clients have the best business advice. If you want to improve your levels of service, ask the people who currently receive it. One of the most popular and beneficial concepts you can implement is the Client Advisory Council. As a business professional, few activities are as revealing and rewarding as simply surrounding yourself with a group of your favorite clients and probing them for ideas and insights.


What steps are you taking to minimize the economic impact to your business? Leave me a comment.



  1. Work harder!
  2. Avoid debt
  3. Keep your employees
  4. Focus on your core business
  5. Delegate tasks wherever you can
  6. Compete on price
  7. Cut unnecessary spending
  8. Seek partnerships
  9. Make sales oriented product decisions
  10. Find new ways to monetize
Labels: why blades

Data Center Ants and Grasshoppers

Will 2009 be a tough year for IT departments, and us tech vendors too?  Duh.  Will it be as bad as the article I read today, 2009 - Thomas the Tank's journey to IT Hell?  We shall see.  Too often, tough times inspire dark predictions, preying on our most basic fears of the unknown.


I don't think the IT Boogeyman is hiding under my bed.  I didn't think so in 2001 either.  The winds of change to virtualization and industry standards have been blowing for too many years now - the question is were you an Ant or a Grasshopper


For those that never read Aesop's Fables, the lesson is the Grasshopper is screwed. 

ant-grasshopper-fable-energy-prices-ready-graphic

If you're well on your way with server virtualization and have been through at least one round of server consolidation, you took a good first step. Good job Ant!  But if there is one truth, oh grasshopper, that I took away from the IT Hell article, it's that the status quo isn't going to cut it in 2009.  I know the IT crowd is a conservative bunch and we live and die by the mantra "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." The only problem is, sometimes if you don't break it yourself, someone or something will come a long and break it for you.


I'm not trying to scare you.  But we can't continue to resist change. 


There's more out there to do to take cost out (TCO) if you're going to be ready for the long winter of 2009.  If want to be a good Ant, you better add network, storage and power consolidation to the top of your shopping list.


 

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About the Author(s)
  • More than 25 years in the IT industry developing and managing marketing programs. Focused in emerging technologies like Virtualization, cloud and big data.
  • I am a member of the Enterprise Group Global Marketing team blogging on topics of interest for HP Servers. Check out blog posts on all four Server blog sites-Reality Check, The Eye on Blades, Mission Critical Computing and Hyperscale Computing- for exciting news on the future of compute.
  • I work within EMEA HP Servers Central Team as a launch manager for new products and general communications manager for EMEA HP Server specific information. I also tweet @ServerSavvyElla
  • Hello! I am a social media manager for servers, so my posts will be geared towards HP server-related news & info.
  • HP Servers, Converged Infrastructure, Converged Systems and ExpertOne
  • WW responsibility for development of ROI and TCO tools for the entire ISS portfolio. Technical expertise with a financial spin to help IT show the business value of their projects.
  • I am a member of the HP BladeSystem Portfolio Marketing team, so my posts will focus on all things blades and blade infrastructure. Enjoy!
  • Luke Oda is a member of the HP's BCS Marketing team. With a primary focus on marketing programs that support HP's BCS portfolio. His interests include all things mission-critical and the continuing innovation that HP demonstrates across the globe.
  • Global Marketing Manager with 15 years experience in the high-tech industry.
  • Network industry experience for more than 20 years - Data Center, Voice over IP, security, remote access, routing, switching and wireless, with companies such as HP, Cisco, Juniper Networks and Novell.
  • 20 years of marketing experience in semiconductors, networking and servers. Focused on HP BladeSystem networking supporting Virtual Connect, interconnects and network adapters.
  • Greetings! I am on the HP Enterprise Group marketing team. Topics I am interested in include Converged Infrastructure, Converged Systems and Management, and HP BladeSystem.
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