Lawyer Bait

The views expressed herein solely represent the author’s personal views and opinions and not of anyone else - person or organization.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Note to Cloud Service Providers - The Network is The Cloud

I was catching up on some reading this weekend nursing a sunburn, and was absolutely blown away by the sheer number of 'Cloud' companies and what they are offering. I have covered Cloud in this blog repeatedly because I don't get it. I don't get what Cloud does that Managed Services Providers do with a reconstructed SLA. When I read in an eWeek piece that we need to 'stop defining what the cloud is and look at what it does' then I knew there are a lot of other people who don't get it, who want to get it, and since the industry can't come up with the single *right* answer, we call in Officer Barbrady to manage things 'Nothing to see here. Move along people...' and hope to move on without a definition in place.

Would you pay for something without knowing what it is AND does? In the words of Max from the movie The Losers 'it's like giving a loaded gun to a six year old Wade, you're not sure how t's going to end but you're pretty sure it's going to make the papers.' Is it a Zen thing? The cloud is, but will not be...? What is a simple truth? What are any of us sure of?

I am sure of one thing - that networks are the most overlooked component of the thing referred to as Cloud. Why? Simple? Imagine if there were no public roads between the airport and the car rental places, only taxi approved roads, or that you had to pay $10 to ride teh shuttle bus. You would incure a small fortune getting you and your stuff from one place to another to pay for the priviledge of renting something for as long as you needed it so you could move around.

I could play with that metaphor for a long time and won't, it's Monday. What I will say is that the Cloud providers need to understand networks so that they stay competitive, provide more value than the next guy, and if nothing else - they could offer the same pricing as Amazon's service and capture 38-48% more margin.

That should make the papers...

Monday, August 23, 2010

Everything is Bigger in Texas...

Including outsourcing deals... IBM and the State of Texas are trying to re-negotiate their contract in the press instead of with each other. This is like divorcing in public folks - you think it's ugly now? Just wait.

There is $863M on the line and so some big rocks are being thrown between the two. The finger pointing is expected, the lack of leadership is not. Why someone on either side isn't saying (like a parent) 'I don't care who did what to who, figure it out and don't come out of your rooms until you figure it out!'.

here are my thoughts on the matter as an outsider who has been involved in pitching and delivering large deals:

1. Both sides need to get two people - preferably 'Juice Guys' (people who have authority to make and keep agreements) at the table and look forward as to where the State wants to go and what they need to do. I suspect a lot has changed given the fact that there have been so many issues and things the State thought it wanted may not be on the list anymore.

2. IBM needs to automate as much as humanly possible with the project. They are a HUGE company with a lot of PEOPLE. Folks, people, humans - that is the problem. The fewer people they use on the project, the higher the degree of success will be. Technology is used to execute business process. If the team focuses on the process that needs to be in place when all is said and done, they will be infinitely more successful. Software is then deployed to support the right process. It's a tool, not the solution.

3. If there are additional questions, call me. Not the people who got you into this mess in the first place Texas. I love this comment:

While citing its disagreement with DIR”s management and characterization of the contract, McLean said that ”should DIR decide to move forward with re-procurement of all or a portion of the services, IBM remains willing to assist DIR in that process.”

Why wouldn't the fox be ready to go back, invited, into the hen house?

IBM, you f'ed up. Own it, fix it (or not) and make the customer happy. You positioned yourself as the expert, and the State has said you fell short.

Texas - sit down with the stakeholders again and plot a new plan for someone new to execute. Remember to eat the elephant in bites, as migration and consolidation is a process, not a scheduled event.

Any questions? Call me or send me an email - and I will do what I can to help. Even if it's only keeping the fox out of the hen house...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Do Watts per Square Foot Even Matter Anymore?

I think about this question a lot, and it is one I am asking more as well to customers and peers in the industry. There are hundreds of facilities that were built 20-30 years ago and a few dozen that have been built in the past 10 (remember the .com bubble?) and I am being conservative. They were built with a solid approach for 20 years ago - build a building using a watts/ft metric to calculate costs, density, and ultimately capacity. Remember that Wang, Digital/DEC, and IBM mainframes were the systems of choice. Then the PC came on the scene, and drastically changed the dynamic of computing. Client/Server, new network protocols, ARPA, TCP/IP and http - the evolution was on.

So too were manufacturers evolving - building smaller footprint, higher capacity machines. These machines were 2-3x as powerful as their predecessors, taking up half the space. Companies could consolidate their huge footprint monlithic systems inside their data centers and make room for more. Or could they?

Today, to me it seems like deja vu all over again.

The computing world has shifted again by using virtualization, and those smaller more powerful servers, just got smaller (so small you can't touch or see them), went virtual, and companies are embracing the next evolution with gusto. They are also hitting the wall that IT managers who are retired or dead hit decades ago - power.

Why is this happening again? In a word - heat.

These smaller machines draw more power, and generate a lot more heat for their footprint. Ask a multi tenant data center operator who services the retail market on a cabinet by cabinet basis and they will tell you that cabinets full of gear that draw 4.8Kw are going in next to cabinets with 10-14 Kw. The higher density cabinets generate a lot more heat that needs to be removed from the floor so all the densities of the servers with their heat signatures can be maintained properly.

What is intrinsic of a 20 year old facility that makes it better to satify growing densities, evolving computing applications and hardware, and whatever comes down the pike? How does the colocation market evolve at the same time? When do we hit the wall, or do we hit the wall? Can you simply throw more air conditioners/handlers on the floor? Can we just continue to push utilities to increase generation and distribution? What happoens to the cost models?

I am starting to think that we are at a crossroads. Why do I believe this? Because data centers are starting to evolve. Containers, modular buildings, more flexible options. Until the hardware manufacturers get together with data center operators and do some R & D in a meaningful way, share roadmap, do testing together, we will continue to build the way we have, and not the way we must.

Want to play together - ping me. I want to figure this out...