April 14, 2015

I Know You Are But What Am I? - TR Dispatch v1n7

The TechReckoning Dispatch, Vol. 2, No. 7. April 13, 2015. In this issue: VMware v Nutanix, OpenStack v Reality, Open Source Down, Microsoft Up, Storage Scaling, Booth Babes, HW + SW, Hit Reply: Podcasts [View in Browser]

The Reckoning

We will be gathering together July 26-27. Please RSVP here so I can get a better sense of who is coming. Watch @TechReckoning for upcoming announcements of our featured guests. We're pulling together an interesting slate of talks from people doing inspiring work in the field of technology.

VMware vs Nutanix

If you only have time to read one, this one will give you the overview: Why a startup called Nutanix is making VMware absolutely crazy by Julie Bort at Business Insider.

If you need the blow by blow:
1. Nutanix VP Steve Kaplan wrote this.
2. Then VMware's Chief Storage Strategist Chuck Hollis wrote this. The comments are interesting.
3. It got turned into a slide show at CRN. Having one of my blog posts turned into a slide show is on my bucket list, but I'm not sure if it will be the nadir or zenith of my career.
4. It got written up at CRN 
5. It got mixed up in the overall fight between the two companies. (Chris Mellor at the Register with bonus Vlad the Impaler pic.) 
6. Then Nutanix CEO Dheeraj Pandey wrote this
We're Just a Freakin' App on a Hypervisor
Nutanix is simply trying to argue that storage is simply an app on the hypervisor. And just like there is no expectation from an app vendor to OEM ESXi (simply because they are running in a virtualized environment), there should be no expectation for us to OEM any hypervisor as part of our offering.
7. More press by Kevin McLaughlin at CRN and Simon Sharwood at the Register and Trevor Pott at the Register. (Trevor is the most entertaining) 
8. Culminating in the Business Insider article above, which is the kind of public dust-up is usually reserved for consumer tech companies. I even got asked about it by a civilian on Facebook. Having clickbait like this in the boring IT industry we know and love makes me feel giddy and dirty all at the same time.

I'm consulting with Nutanix on community programs and their podcast, and I have some NDA access, so I can't really comment here. In the normal scoring of these kinds of vendor sports, though, you never "punch down" by mentioning the smaller company, so VMware loses points for that. This puts a public spotlight on Nutanix as it has its first user conference in June and is widely viewed as heading towards an IPO. VMware's Chuck Hollis knows this and so I'd predict that VMware goes quiet for a while.

OpenStack vs Reality

This whole section is brought to you the Media Literacy Elf. As you read any OpenStack article, look at who is quoted and examine what motivations they might have. My POV is still unchanged: OpenStack can work for both public and private clouds where you have a bunch of smart people to run it. Most companies don't need it in-house. 

I do think the Piston pivot is the most interesting from a strategy POV. There are a lot of people, from VMware on down, who want to own the provisioning-management-orchestration layer of the next generation of apps. I suppose OpenStack could work for that, but the container folks think it's worth starting from scratch. Piston Differentiates Beyond Private OpenStack Cloud by Yevgeniy Sverdlik at Data Center Knowledge.

We could do a whole media literacy semester on the recent stuff. OpenStack pushes out VMware at PayPal. No wait, VMware has definitely not been pushed out at PayPal. It's enough to make you think people are spinning stories and issuing carefully worded statements on both sides.

And we do need to pour one out for our homies at OpenStack appliance-maker Nebula. I'm very sorry for the people that lost their jobs, but oh my god even more press drama.

Investors were once tripping over themselves to get into a hot technology called OpenStack. What happened? by Matt Weinberger at Business Insider
"The worst thing for OpenStack right now is Red Hat," McKenty says. 
That's the kind of quote you need to parse. Josh McKenty is a founder of the OpenStack project, but left Piston and the OpenStack Foundation and now works for Pivotal. I don't know what kind of personal things are going on, but I do know that Pivotal, where he now works, is prone to publicly berate Red Hat and OpenShift.

In Defense Of OpenStack by Paul Miller at Forbes. (I think this is a bad argument. OpenStack needs to be talked about to win.)
At the end of the day, OpenStack will actually be truly successful when we stop talking about it quite so much. Customers will buy a solution from EMC or IBM or Mirantis or Canonical or Blue Box or HP or Rackspace or whoever it might be. That solution will have the capabilities and the interoperability and the extensibility and the cost profile that it has… because it’s built on OpenStack. OpenStack, ultimately, is a feature not a product. And that’s not a bad thing.
I think this is much more insightful from the Mirantis folks: The Real Reason Open Source Startups Fail by Alex Freedland at TechCrunch.

Open source ecosystem markets behave differently and therefore require a very different playbook. There, the differentiation is not in the technology you build; it is in the process and expertise that you slowly amass over an extended period of time. All of the successful entrants (Red Hat, Cloudera or Hortonworks, etc) have followed the same playbook.

Worth a Click

More media literacy. For homework, list who Matt Asay at InfoWorld slams and who he talks about approvingly. The New Struggles Facing Open Source at InfoWorld by (yet again) Matt Asay
Still, some dislike the corporate influence for another, more troublesome reason. “I think pretty soon we're going to see how bad it is when every successful [open source] project is backed by a company, most of which fail,” declares Puppet Labs founder and CEO Luke Kanies.
Microsoft is up to some good shit these days. Nobody's quite sure what the impact of the newly-announced nanoserver and container technologies are going to be - when we interviewed Jeffrey Snover (see below) he was teasing something and I think this was it. Don Jones (Pluralsight) says Can we Take a Moment and Reflect on Microsoft?
For me, it doesn’t matter whether you think these new steps are good ones or bad ones – I’m simply amazed that the company has been able to turn the ship. They could easily not have done so, you know. They could probably have sat for another decade, collected licensing fees and maintenance fees, and been more or less fine. But they didn’t. They’re taking risks, they’re challenging “traditions,” and they’re expressing their vision. Whether you agree with the vision or not is important, since you’re the customer, but at least they’re moving with confidence. The fact that the company can do so is astounding, and it speaks to the courage, dedication, and genius of the men and women leading it and doing all the work.
A senior VP at HP told the NY Times they were getting out of the pure public cloud business. He currently still has a job while the rest of HP PR walks back the statement. HP Denies It Is Exiting Public Cloud Market by Steven Burke at CRN. Here's a pretty good crowdsourced deconstruction over at Twitter. (tldr: they might add it on as a hybrid but aren't pushing it as a standalone offering. You'd have to be very trusting to count on it at this point.)

And let's get ready to pour one out for our homies at NetApp who may be laid off.

Oh please, John, give us something technical amidst all this media bla bla bla. OK, we have room for one good one:

Frank Denneman, one of those smart folks at Pernix Data, has written a series about shared storage. Start with Part 1. Virtual Datacenter scaling problems with traditional shared storage
The biggest challenge today is the introduction of so many new technologies and design paradigms, that the write-off period of the investment might not be aligned with the duration of the technology relevance any more. On top of that the storage system might perform extremely well in the beginning, however it will appear to become slower over time. A system might perform extremely well, but not at the cost of large quantities of money or by its inability to incorporate new technology to service new application landscapes or services which are going to depend on it.
I am not a booth babe. Ask me a question by Fara Hain of Zerto at CNET. You can buy your own button at iamnotaboothbabe.com.

Catching Up with John

Future: Tuesday, April 14. Silicon Valley VMUG. UserCon. Nested Virtualization - Empowering the VMware Community with Cloud Labs (with Navin Thadani, Ravello Systems [client])


Always Read the Comments

Last week we asked about "vertical" products with integrated hardware + software. This is what you said:

Vendors that go down a combined hardware + software route are handling more of the stack for me so that I can focus on building a platform and not being a plumber (which is fun in a home lab but wastes too much of my time and energy in the data center). It also allows for additional pieces of the stack to be tested and validated thoroughly by the vendor when new drivers, firmware, and patches are released. As long as the solution is built to scale in a deterministic way, this is usually the simplest method for dropping gear into the environment while maintaining a architecture roadmap and incurring CapEx costs in an iterative / linear nature. While hardware is commodity, you (Troyer) have pointed out that none of the compute offerings act the same way - even out of band access is wildly different across vendors (iLO, CIMC, DRAC, and other flavors of iKVM based on CIM).
Solutions that are combined hardware and software can take many forms.  I like my firewall and it is a combined package but also an appliance, and I think it is good like that.  I can use virtual storage in my lab but I chose to use an appliance like Synology as it is easier to manage.  One environment - DNS, or Internet, or virtualization, having issues doesn’t hurt my Synology or firewall.  So there is a place for appliances.  However in big companies, with big virtualization environments, I can see the need to appliance being different.   Virtual firewalls, virtual storage works different in that world and I think not being an appliance has value.  And that becomes a leadin for the cloud.  Appliances in the cloud are much tougher.
I've no hands-on experience with the recent converged/hyperconverged infrastructures, but we've been using combined hardware/software offerings for years - even 'legacy' SANs have management software custom written for the hardware. Are they an evolution from what we've had previously? Yes, I'd say so, but everything improves over time - I'm no longer tweaking HIGHMEM in DOS because every modern OS handles that for me. I expect the new kids on the block have a temporary advantage having coded from scratch to what's needed by companies today, but in five/ten years time they'll be bogged down by legacy support and a fractured product line just as the larger companies are today (think Netapp's 'unified' storage back in the day). 

Does it really change much from a customer perspective? No. As always it's just a matter of risk vs cost and knowing your requirements. Everything else is just marketing and spin and vendor battles, with 'true cloud' being the pinnacle of hype mountain.
@hansdeleenheer (I referred to this indirectly, but just to make it clear):
There’s a 3rd business aspect of HW+SW bundling beyond margin, especially for early stage companies like Nutanix: getting the run rate numbers up as high as possible in a shorter timeframe. Try getting a run rate of $100mln with software only. 

Just Hit Reply

Our question this week: In prep for next week, (1) When and how do you listen to podcasts? and (2) What are your favorite podcasts? (And if you must share something about Nutanix vs VMware, go ahead and I'll include it, but I think that question will only be answered in the marketplace.)

The TechReckoning Dispatch. Archive. Subscribe. Email me. Published every week or so, but two weeks seem way too long these days. Too much news leaves no room for the jokes. Gotta get back in the groove. Next week we'll be on the Big Island so I'll send you some more aloha spirit. Thanks for sticking with it. Do me a solid and send it to a friend. "There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. ... No artist is pleased. [There is] no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others."