In recent blog post, I shared that I had come to Oracle based on the strength of their cloud strategy. A few snarky individuals tweeted "what strategy?". Haha, the interwebs would certainly be less entertaining without a bit of trolling. To be fair, I ...


Why I Love The Oracle Cloud Strategy and more...

Why I Love The Oracle Cloud Strategy

StrategyIn recent blog post, I shared that I had come to Oracle based on the strength of their cloud strategy.

A few snarky individuals tweeted "what strategy?". Haha, the interwebs would certainly be less entertaining without a bit of trolling.

To be fair, I realized I hadn't made my case for Oracle's approach to cloud.

So I decided to do just that.

This is a long post -- longer than most. It is not corporate marketing, it is my personal perspective. Disclaimer: these are (as always) my own opinions, and certainly not vetted by my employer.

Viewer discretion advised: I'm going to be direct as usual, and some sensibilities will be inevitably offended in the process. Apologies in advance.

Why Do I Care?

CoalmineI have spent my entire working life -- all 40+ years of it -- involved with enterprise IT, mostly on the vendor side.

I am not exaggerating: at 14, I had a part-time job coding BASIC on a timeshare mainframe.  Teletype, punch tape and a 300 baud modem.

That sort of thing tended to happen in Silicon Valley where I grew up.  Cheap labor :)

As a result, I have grown a deep empathy for those that choose to make enterprise IT their career.

There are certainly easier ways to make a living. I see IT leaders and thinkers continually struggle with competing demands from the business against a rapidly shifting technology landscape. They rarely get the love from the executive team. It's a tough gig.

When I see something that can potentially offer IT professionals a win, I go out of my way to say "look at this, it could be big for you!". I can list off all the different technologies and strategies I've been smitten by.

Most of them became real things -- at least, for a while.

I was smitten early on by the promise of cloud, but became disillusioned over time. Many current forms of cloud have not proven to be that big win I had hoped for, especially for enterprise IT.

Fake_cloudsMost public clouds are inherently difficult for enterprise IT to consume. They don't work the way enterprise IT needs them to work. So adoption is limited; and it doesn't change the game enough to be meaningful. SaaS would be a clear exception here.

I think of most private cloud as a head fake -- "cloud without cloud". It's usually infrastructure only, it's still purchased and operated as plumbing, and there are few compatible public cloud offerings.

It doesn't change the game enough to be meaningful.

As I looked across the IT industry, I was initially quite despondent. Sure, various vendors were offering piece parts that could be potentially cobbled together, but that isn't the greatest answer. Cloud should be something you use and build on, not hand-craft and support forever.

I like driving cars. I don't enjoy selecting automotive components, attempting to assemble and integrate them, and supporting them when they break. Especially since all I mostly do these days is drive to the airport.

The business is starting to look at IT the same way. Why can't I just consume what I want to consume? Who is this army of well-intentioned IT people attempting to build and support stuff, and continually struggling in the process? Why don't we just move to a better model?

And -- unfortunately -- those business people are right.

The Oracle Approach

Blog slide 1At a high level, here is what I find so compelling about Oracle's approach to cloud.

First, there's a complete -- and integrated -- public cloud offering that works the way enterprise IT works.

There's integrated and extensible SaaS.

There's a PaaS platform aimed at enterprise developers with a dizzying set of capabilities.

And there's a broad range of IaaS services that covers the enterprise IT spectrum.

You're free to compare subsets of the public Oracle Cloud with other alternatives, but there is no direct comparison for the entire offering.

Blog slide ESSecond, there is a full line of on-prem systems engineered for database, applications and analytics. They do things other systems can't do.

And they come with precise equivalents in the public Oracle Cloud should you need a different consumption option down the road, which I call "cloud insurance".

Cloud insurance?  Yeah, you don't want to be "that guy" when new IT leadership decides that everything is going to some sort of cloud.

Again, you won't find any on-premises infrastructure vendor doing this.

And, finally, Oracle has figured out how to bring subsets of the public Oracle Cloud into the data center, behind your firewall.

Blog slide OCMSame functionality, same operational model, same pricing model, etc.

Cloud machines: a public cloud model delivered on-premises: 100% compatible with the public Oracle Cloud.

No other vendor has figured out how to do that, either.

Put it all together? A complete and modern full stack optimized for enterprise applications and workloads. One architecture, three cloud consumption models, your choice.

Use it to run aging legacy, or build cloud-native: your choice. Add in workload portability with other clouds, and it starts to look pretty appetizing.

I don't think any vendor can make any one of these statements, let alone all of them. So when I get on my soapbox and start saying "hey, this could be big for you!", there's some reasonable substance behind the claim.

But I think I owe you a deeper explanation of why each component of the Oracle approach is so compelling through my eyes.

A Business Process Platform View Of SaaS

A narrow view of software-as-a-service holds that certain business functions aren't strategic. Rather than invest resources in either customized or on-prem solutions, simply consume an external software service for what you need. Packaged, black-box functionality is all we need.

Business_processThe broader view is that most organizations thrive on their business process DNA. The better companies are always investing in new processes, and improving existing ones. Moving to a SaaS model should support that strategic view, and not inhibit it.

What sets Oracle SaaS apart from other SaaS offerings in my view are three things: (1) a broad set of integrated core enterprise functionality (2) rich, ready-to use business process IP, and (3) the ability to easily extend and integrate functionality as needed.

Put differently, I tihnk of Oracle SaaS as a business process platform, and not a point solution.

A Developer Productivity View of Platform As A Service

Blog Slide 4While there always will be a strong desire to run shrink-wrapped software, that's not always enough. Enter the enterprise application developer. Or perhaps a small army of developers?

Developing and customizing application software is an expensive proposition. The focus here is to make these folks as productive as possible in their core task: delivering powerful applications.

Yes, there are all the developer tools you might expect for the coding bits (plus the vast world of open source tools) but there's also a very long list of powerful, ready-to-use services that can be easily integrated into even more powerful applications: mobile, analytics, IoT, etc.

Where I think Oracle stands apart is their focus on the unique needs of enterprise application developers, and giving them the tools they need to do their job far better.

An Enterprise IT View of Infrastructure As A Service

Start talking about public cloud IaaS, and people think "AWS". After all, they pretty much invented the category over ten years ago. And they have been quite successful, no argument there.

Blog slide 5That being said, it's fair to say that AWS is a poor fit with the needs of most enterprise IT functions.

Not all applications can run well in a virtualized x86 environment, for one thing.

If you've invested heavily in people and process around control planes (security, monitoring, etc.) none of that works well with AWS.

Not every app can go to a public cloud, there's still a strong need to run things on-premises, ideally with the same architecture.

For dedicated and predictable workloads, AWS can be awfully expensive. And if you're not paying attention to consumption, "self-service" can quickly become "all you can eat" and blowing out the budget in the process.

Blog IaaS SlideI argue that there's clearly room in the market for public cloud IaaS that works the way enterprise IT needs it to work.

And that is what Oracle is building.

Choose from a wide variety of compute models: elastic, dedicated, bare metal or our engineered systems. Run Linux, Windows or UNIX. Run legacy, run virtualized, run containers. Get workload portability at the database, VM or container level.

Larry Ellison made it very clear during his Oracle Open World keynote that he intends to directly compete with AWS on both price *and* performance. And I see clear evidence that Oracle has more than enough firepower to deliver on that promise.

Now, On To The Data Center

Despite all this cloud talk, today's reality is that the vast majority of IT spend still happens in the data center. And that's not going to change next week.

Blog slide 6Oracle's infrastructure is all about enterprise applications: databases, application logic and middleware, and analytics. We use the term "engineered systems" to describe our full-stack integration of hardware and software.

For people who want to build customized on-premises environments, we'll sell them the same components we use in our public cloud: operating system and hypervisor, servers, storage, data center fabric, etc.

Caution: some assembly is required.

For folks who want a simplified out-of-the-box experience, we offer purpose-built appliances: one each for databases, application logic and middleware, and analytics.

Blog slide 7For folks who need something a bit more extreme, that's where products like Exadata, Exalytics, Exalogic and SuperCluster fit in. For what they do, no one does it better. That's what happens when you can engineer hardware and software to work together.

So, what's the tie in with public cloud?

Our on-premises technology has precise equivalents in the public Oracle Cloud. I think of it as "cloud insurance".

Sure, you want an on-premises solution today, but what about down the road?

Isn't it nice to have a precisely equivalent public cloud option -- just in case?

Bringing The Public Cloud To The Data Center

There are so many situations where a public cloud model might look attractive, but can't be considered for any number of reasons: regulations, latency, etc.

If you can't come to our cloud, we'll bring our cloud to you.

Blog slide 8That's the idea behind cloud machines: subsets of the public Oracle Cloud delivered as a service in your data center, behind your firewall. It's managed and monitored by the same people (and using the same tools) as our public Oracle Cloud.

No one else in the industry is doing this today. I do read that Microsoft is working towards something similar in the future. Hard for me to compare with something that doesn't exist yet.

The current Oracle Cloud Machine is integrated PaaS/IaaS targeted at application landscapes. The PaaS/IaaS services are identical to those delivered in the public Oracle Cloud. Many aspects of the pricing are the same as well.

At Oracle Open World, we announced that we'd be delivering an Exadata Cloud Machine, aimed at providing the same database-as-a-service capabilities as we offer with Exadata in the Oracle Cloud. We also stated our intent to do the same with open analytics, with a Big Data Cloud Machine.

To be very clear, a cloud machine is not a private cloud. It is a public cloud model, delivered in your data center, behind your firewall. You use it; you don't buy it/build it/maintain it. Just like a public cloud -- although certain minimums apply.

Why I'm Such A Big Fan Of The Oracle Approach

One of the reasons that I think there's been so little adoption of public clouds by mainstream IT organizations is that there's so much that has to change all at once.  In most situations, it's an all-or-nothing proposition.  

Burn the boats, we're going to the cloud!

In most cases, your applications have to be converted and tested to run in a given public cloud -- or you have to move to SaaS. Any operational procedures or tooling you have invested in has to be re-invented.

And, once you're there, you're not coming home -- even if you need to.

Put differently, if you could somehow break the cloud proposition into manageable, easier-to-consume pieces, more IT shops could make progress towards that goal.

SuncloudsAs an example, imagine a public cloud that didn't require enterprise applications to be converted or rewritten. One that supported legacy monolithic applications, current multi-tiered applications as well as the new generation of container and microservices apps.

As another example, imagine that you'd stand a decent shot of simply extending your chosen control planes and policies into the public cloud.

As a final example, imagine that you could easily consume either on-premises or public cloud using the exact same architecture. And you could have straightforward workload portability to other clouds and other architectures.

That would be an entirely different proposition, now wouldn't it?  Far easier to consume than burning the boats and starting all over again in a new world.

Move your applications without rewriting or conversion.  Extend your control planes of choice into the public cloud.  Consume a public cloud model in the convenience of your own data center.  Move workloads between the data center and your choice of cloud.  Rich PaaS and SaaS functionality that builds a platform for business innovation.

That's why I came to Oracle. I believe that cloud will eventually change how enterprise IT will be done. And Oracle was the only company I could find who had all the pieces -- and the commitment -- to make it happen.

Everyone other vendor I looked at either had a partial answer, or often no answer. Unless you'd like to assemble something yourself? Hint: it's harder than it looks.

Now that I'm over a year into this, I am a stronger believer than ever.  The story and the execution keeps getting better and better.  When I put this story in front of an enterprise IT group, they immediately realize it creates entirely new options for them.

PopcornIntegrated SaaS/PaaS/IaaS delivered in the public cloud.

Engineered systems optimized for database, application logic and middleware, and analytics -- with precise equivalents in a public cloud.

And the tantalizing notion of a cloud machine: a public cloud model delivered in your datacenter, behind your firewall, as a managed cloud service.

All aimed at enterprise IT organizations, and demanding enterprise application workloads. You know, the hard stuff.

So far, so good.

But we're in early days. The big shift from traditional on-premises models to cloud models (whether delivered in a public cloud or in the data center) has just begun.  Most of the market is still up for grabs.  

I remember a time when we all thought that AOL would rule the internet, and we'd all be using Netscape as a browser.  Things change.

I think I've chosen an excellent spot to watch the action.


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VMware and AWS -- Harder Than It Looks

PonderingOne of the bigger pieces of industry news last week was VMware announcing they intend to eventually offer an infrastructure service built on top of a new AWS bare metal offering.

My corner of the internet broke for a while as a result. Before long, I was inevitably getting pinged by my Twitter brethren for a personal view.

I spent a few days thinking about it from various angles.  Sorry to say, I come away with more negatives than positives.

Fair warning: I left EMC and VMware because I didn't see a viable cloud strategy. I joined Oracle on the strength of their cloud strategy. So far, it's played out exactly as I thought it would.  

Not much has changed with my perspective since then.  Including this latest press release.

What A Long, Strange Trip It's Been

The story of VMware trying to come up with a viable public cloud strategy is a long and torturous one.

Long_tripvCloud Director. vCHS (also known as vCheese). vCloud Air 1. vCloud Air 2. EMC buying Virtuastream and mistakenly positioning it as "the answer", then backing down. The IBM deal. The loose affiliation of the vCloud Air Network.

And now this. Forgive me if I come across as just a teeny bit skeptical based on the story so far.

At a macro level, what we're seeing is obvious. The world is moving to a public cloud model. VMware's core product -- vSphere -- wasn't designed for public clouds. VMware -- the company -- is not structured as a public cloud provider. Hence the history of thrashing around, trying to come up with some sort of viable answer.

There are certainly a lot of heavy vSphere users that are hoping (praying?) that VMware can deliver a workable solution. So far, no dice.

I'll remind people: hope is not a strategy.

The Big Positives

EverythingThe most positive thing here are the industry optics.

VMware, the king of data center virtualization, inks an agreement with AWS, the king of public cloud infrastructure.

VMware gets the potential of a credible public cloud option, which it doesn't have today, AWS gets a potential entry into the enterprise IT world which it doesn't have today.

Everyone wins, birds sing and all is right with the world. Or is it?

The Big Negatives

First, there's the vague delivery schedule.

Fingers_crossedSometime next year, we are told, there will be something to look at. Having been a behind-the-scenes veteran of multiple industry announcements, long and vague schedules usually mean significant amounts of work, technical risk, or -- usually -- both.

If they had something to show that would help establish credibility, they'd already be showing it. Trust me.

While we're waiting, we'll have to be content with powerpoint slides and optimistic blog posts.

Second, there's a vexing question.

VMware couldn't offer a viable cloud service when they were building infrastructure to their specifications (vCloud Air). What makes us think they can do better when running on someone else's infrastructure? Yes, they'll be using a new bare-metal service from AWS, but the devil is in the details.

And we won't know the details for quite a while.

Finally, there's time lost.

I know that there will be more than a few VMware faithful who will take this announcement to their leadership team and say "see, we have a plan for cloud now!". Maybe they do, maybe they don't, but it will take a year to figure out either way.

Meanwhile, their progress forward will be stalled due to a "market freeze" (e.g. wait, don't do anything, there's something big coming!). And that's unfortunate.

The Strategic View

BackoflineVMware intends to offer this as their premiere cloud offering: sold and supported by VMware. Which means, of course, all the other infrastructure and IaaS vendors can move to the back of the line. Not exactly the most partner-friendly move. I can only imagine the conversations.

And VMware's current business model is heavily dependent on those partners today.

The intent of the service appears to precisely replicate on-premises VMware functionality. There's no new significant functionality being discussed as part of the service.

The problem? One of the big motivations to move to a public cloud is easy access to new functionality. That doesn't seem to be the case here. All we get is a new way to consume familiar VMs.

I feel a bit shortchanged. That means it's going to be all about the economics of the new service compared to doing things on-premises.

Amazon leaves a bit on the table. They've been investing in various software services (e.g. Redshift et. al.) in an attempt to differentiate from simple IaaS. None of that stuff runs in vSphere, nor has there ever been an inking that AWS would ever invest in doing that.

OpposingAnd, of course, there are opposing forces at work.  VMware wants the world to use their stack, AWS wants the same for their technology.  Not exactly what I would call a long-term stable situation.

I wonder how long before AWS offers yet another "migrate your vSphere VMs to native AWS" promotion?

(update October 25th: not too long, it seems.)

VMware will have to teach and incentivize their salespeople to sell subscriptions and metered consumption vs. traditional software licenses. Not impossible, but not easy either. The new "market freeze" will also apply to their traditional on-premises license business, and that's going to show up in the revenue line before long.

Additionally, if VMware fails to make the new service financially attractive to their existing partners (who incidentally sell boatloads of on-premises hardware), that's going to completely stall the venture. Not a lot of margin to work with, either.

That ain't FUD folks, that's how the world works.

BattleFrom the technology side, more concerns. Hypervisors have already become largely commoditized. Containers and container management is now a real thing, making vSphere's relevance in the cloud less assured. Proven solutions already exist today to encapsulate those VMs, strip out vSphere and move them unmodified to the public cloud of your choice, and saving big money in the process.

In addition to all the other challenges, VMware has fight a completely separate battle on maintaining their technology relevance in a world of public cloud.

Remember, we talking about easily commoditized IaaS here. Not PaaS. Not SaaS.

A Final Thought, Or Two

Yes, this was certainly a big bold move on the part of VMware. The world is quickly moving to cloud. They now know that delivering a viable public cloud service isn't as easy as it looks. So they are partnering their way in, and have landed a big one with AWS.  All credit where credit is due.

The harder part over the next year is making it work: making it work from a technology perspective, and making it work from a go-to-market perspective. And not cratering the business that pays the bills in the process.

None of this is obvious to me.

I'll check back in a year, and let you know what I think.  


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DellEMC -- Bittersweet Thoughts

Blackhole2Today is the day Dell officially acquires EMC. Having spent 18 years at EMC (and two at VMware), my attention keeps wandering to the topic -- and its meaning -- even though I've moved on to bigger and better things.

Maybe it's time for a little writing therapy?

We all have had plenty of time to process the single largest tech acquisition in history. Today, the combined DellEMC marketing machine is fully cranked up, blasting Happy Rays into the interwebs.

All as expected.

As most big events are a mixture of positives and negatives, this one is no exception.

Congrats To Joe Tucci

Joe_tucciI'm not shy to say, I've always been a big fan of Joe's. His plan to build EMC from a pure play storage company into something more meaningful (e.g. EMC Federation) was well-intended.

He also gets credit for the smartest IT acquisition evah -- VMware.

Many of us knew for many years that EMC as a standalone entity wasn't going to be critical mass in the new world order. Joe did the right thing, he sold the company to the right guy for the right price.

Way to go, Joe. It was a privilege to be on your team.

The Biggest IT Supermarket On Earth?

Big_marketI can't speak for what Michael Dell is planning, but from here it looks like he wants to be able to sell more stuff to more people. A lot more. I keep thinking WalMart for traditional IT shops. I believe Michael Dell is one smart business dude.

But to make his model work, he's going to have to crank up the volume, and slash costs. Not to mention pay down a staggering debt.

That's somewhat at odds with the high-touch model of EMC, overlapping product lines, and lavish spending on R&D.

So EMC must change -- and drastically -- before too long.

VMware -- The Crown Jewel?

CrownToday, VMware announced that Michael Dell was elected Chairman of the Board at VMware. Don't make the mistake of thinking this is some sort of ceremonial appointment.

Michael Dell, now more than any other single person, is in control of VMware' future - bought and paid for.

As a result, changes will inevitably occur. Perhaps at a more measured pace, but they will happen. Many VMware employees mistakenly think that, because they are a publicly held company, they can act independently of ownership.

I beg to disagree.

That's why people buy things -- they want to put them to use.

And Then There's This Cloud Thing

EMC doesn't have a viable public cloud offering. Neither does Dell. Nor does VMware for that matter.

That's a problem. Handing out one-way tickets for your customers to get to other vendors' public clouds doesn't strike me as a viable long-term strategy.

CloudmonsterThe combined DellEMC will be restrained from building out a viable public cloud offering in the near future. Why? It takes billions of dollars and years of work before you even have a hope of making money. Not exactly an attractive proposition if you're an investor.

I would think that Dell's investment syndicate would want to get paid on the existing debt first, and that's going to take a while.

What do Amazon, Microsoft, Google and Oracle have in common? All have big public clouds, all have founders still engaged with the company with serious equity ownership.  All are somewhat immune from activist investors.

Building a viable public cloud at global scale isn't for the faint of heart.

Michael Dell has stated that he sees the rise of public cloud as a great opportunity to sell stuff: servers and presumably storage. I think he's whistling in the dark. I think his play is to get increased market share in the shrinking on-premises enterprise IT market. HPE and IBM appear to be trying to do the same.

Back to my earlier comment about cranking up volumes and slashing costs.

Avoiding The Commoditization Trap

Differentiated things quickly become commoditized in our industry. That's true for both on-premises and cloudy stuff. Vendors who can't avoid commoditization get caught in a death spiral: lower margins mean less money to spend on creating new stuff that customers want and need.

TrapGetting Really Big is one classic play to help stave off commoditization; the other is differentiating through unique IP that customers find valuable. In the IT world, differentiation usually means software farther up the stack. Oracle has chosen to invest up the stack: applications, databases, middleware, developer services, etc.

It's a very differentiated play.

IBM seems to be betting heavily on Watson. Neat technology, but I'm not sure that play can support IBM in its current form. HPE is rumored to be getting out of the software business, so we know where Meg wants to go.

DellEMC? Once you get beyond VMware's on-premises hypervisor business, and Pivotal's CloudFoundry, there's not a lot of there there. And big software acquisitions take big money, something that's in short supply these days.

The WalMart Example

WalmartYes, I do visit WalMart occasionally. When I'm looking for inexpensive, undifferentiated and commoditized stuff, that's where I go. I make my visits as short and focused as possible. Great selection, great prices. That being said, I'm starting to like the grocery section.

WalMart is one of the two companies that has revolutionized how stuff gets into people's hands. The other, of course, is Amazon. I don't want to even think how much my family spends with Amazon Prime. It's almost too easy.

Both companies have mastered optimizing consumer supply and demand, albeit with different models. Both are masters of taking costs out of the model, and then doing it again.  Both have made a lot of money in the process.

Unlike our enterprise IT world, neither is facing an obvious existential threat to their classic business model, e.g. the rise of public cloud.  DellEMC, VMware, HPE and IBM certainly are.

Best wishes to all going forward.


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Legacy Cloud?

Sometimes, you see a phrase that makes you pause and think. I tripped over this one, courtesy of Justin Warren, who was commenting on the recent VMworld announcements.

The phrase made me think. Thinking is good. Thank you, Justin.

Brightshiny2New ideas in the IT world are bright, shiny objects that initially capture our attention. They then become utterly familiar, and the world progresses to newer, brighter and shinier things.

VMware was founded in 1998. It was acquired by EMC over 12 years ago. Next week, EMC disappears and becomes part of Dell. Life moves on. VMware has been very successful in helping to define what "private cloud" means inside a data center.

Amazon Web Services was publicly launched in 2006, a decade ago. It too has been wildly successful, and has helped to define what "public cloud" means outside of data centers.

Both can reasonably be described as "legacy", if nothing else than through age and maturity alone. Both could be described as providing infrastructure as a service, or IaaS. They also can be described as two competing industry forces attempting to capture each other's territory.

When it comes to enterprise IT, I can't make the argument that either is "winning" the IaaS wars. It appears to be a standoff, with no clear road ahead.

So, what might be next?

One way of envisioning "what's next?" is to step back, and ask yourself -- where are there clear gaps in the market?  Unmet needs that really matter?  

So here's my list when it comes to enterprise IaaS:

Public Vs. Private? No, Public And Private

Marketgap2Public cloud IaaS services have their strong and weak points. On-premises private cloud IaaS has their strong and weak points. Attempting to hybridize them at scale means you've signed up to be in the systems integration business, as they use fundamentally different models.

Remember when we had IT silos around mainframe, UNIX and Windows? And nothing really worked together all that well? Same story, different chapter.

Both VMware and AWS are doing their level best to capture each other's territory. VMware shows demos of NSX interoperating with AWS. They add container and OpenStack support on top of their foundational hypervisor.

AWS positions itself to be as attractive as possible for cloud-native developers. Lambda, anyone? They promote a variety of migration tools and programs to ship those VMware VMs to their cloud.

So, if we're answering the question "what's next?", one part of the answer might be a single architecture and set of services at both ends of the wire (on-premises and off-premises), designed to be used together.

The only choice left would be the desired consumption model: opex or capex, on-prem or not.

Applications: Past, Present and Future

BarnI always go on and on about how enterprise IT is different than other forms of computing.

One of its defining attributes is -- unfortunately -- a very broad application portfolio. If you've never patiently gone through a large enterprise's production application portfolio, you don't know the huge fun you're missing.

Some of it is prepackaged stuff from another era. Some of it is home grown, maybe with tools from the last decade. Some of it might be described as somewhat contemporary in architecture and tool set. Then there's the bright and shiny world of containers, microservices and "serverless" architectures.

And not all of it can conveniently run in an elastic x86 VM :)

JugglerHere's the problem: enterprise IT can't pick and choose which application workloads to support. Rationalization and rearchitecting is a very expensive (and sometimes risky) proposition.  

So if all those enterprise application workloads are going to move to a cloud of some sort, that cloud will have to offer *very* broad support for multiple application models: past, present and future.

Lest you think that the future model will be dozens of clouds, optimized for different application models, that just brings up back to IT being in the systems integration business once again, just this time across dozens of cloud service providers.

Not an attractive scenario.

So, as we're contemplating "what's next?", another part of the answer might be having a cloud service with the ability to support a very wide breadth of infrastructure models.

A set of IaaS services that reflect the harsh reality of the typical enterprise application portfolio and its challenging diversity.

Control Planes Matter

Another key area where IT is different is their mandate to control the enterprise computing environment. Security management, application monitoring, resource consumption, financial management, and so on.

Fpl_blue_controlroomIt doesn't matter where the computing is actually done, what does matter is that enterprise IT organizations are responsible for outcomes -- and being in control. To do this, they invest in people, process and tooling.

Now consider most public clouds: they have their own way of doing things, don't they? Once again, we're back to this unpleasant scenario of multiple, competing control planes as well as investing in significant systems integration to hopefully make it all work together again.

Back to our rumination about "what's next": how about the ability to easily extend current and future enterprise IT control planes with a public cloud service?

Workload Portability?

CartOne thing that is endemic with many IT professionals is avoiding the feeling that they're locked in. Yes, there's always some friction involved with moving something from A to B and then C. But I would also argue that there's a clear opportunity for friction reduction.

On-premises virtualized workloads should be relatively easy to move from on-premises to IT's choice of public cloud provider. And back again, if desired.

Containerized applications should be able to be moved across public clouds, or be run on-premises if that's what is desired.

Once again, as we consider "what's next?", part of the answer could be around seriously reducing the friction associated with these tasks. I am a realist, though. Friction can be minimized, but not eliminated. And various forms of perceived lock-in will be with us for a very long time.

Moving Beyond Legacy Cloud

I don't think VMware will ever be a serious player in the public cloud, despite their desperate desire to do so.

SomethingnewThey're a software company; running a cloud at scale necessitates a completely different business model. Heck, I'd like to be a long distance runner, I just don't have the body for it.

Maybe they can recruit folks like IBM to supply the hardware behind their software, but that's essentially a marriage of convenience, and certainly not a strategic play.

I don't think AWS understands enterprise IT, and what the world looks like through that lens. Given their growth rates elsewhere, maybe they don't need to.

AWS and their services can certainly be part of the answer, but I just can't see them being "the answer".

I believe that there's a clear gap in the market when it comes to IaaS and what's next.

Simply put, the world needs an IaaS that works the way enterprise IT does.

Warts and all.


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For Even More Reading ...

Soapbox2I must be getting old.  I can't remember whether I mentioned it here or not.  

I've been writing pieces for Forbes for a while now, and just realized that I've built up a decent number of articles there.

You'll note that the tone and target audience is a bit different than what I do here.  

I think some of the pieces came out pretty well, if I do say so myself :)

Chuck's articles on Forbes

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