It's Friday, the weather has turned stunningly gorgeous here in New England, and I don't have any well-organized thoughts to share with you this time.
Instead, I thought I'd share some of the loose thoughts rambling around in my head, sort of like empty bottles in the trunk of a car: clanking and rattling at every turn.
No big thoughts here, just idle commentary and observations.
The Pivotal Announcement
For many of us, the highlight of the week was the formal unveiling of Pivotal.
The team has done an excellent job of honing and simplifying their message (a very difficult task), and has created a great website that's worth a moment if you're interested.
Speaking of "interested", that seems to be an understatement.
With just about every customer or partner interaction these days, they want me to set aside 5-10 minutes to talk about Pivotal: what is it, why was it created, what does it mean to me, and so on. I suppose with GE's highly visible investment, that's only going to continue.
It's not hard to figure out what Pivotal is aimed at: a new platform for a relatively new class of application -- including the extended ecosystem that goes with it. For me, it makes all those Hadoop-distro players look very small and niche-y indeed.
I never, ever get asked "what's the best Hadoop distro". However, I do routinely get asked how customer organizations should go about exploiting the power of big data analytics in their world.
This part of the world has moved from enabling technology components to platforms very quickly.
The OpenStack Buzz
The enthusiasm around OpenStack has picked up notably in the last few months, with the last wave being driven by the recent Grizzly release. More and more true beliebers are raising their hands and passionately joining the cause.
For me, it's very reminiscent of how Linux picked up steam in a similar manner well over a decade ago.
However, I remind people that while all this frothy enthusiasm is a good thing; the very best indicator is when people start spending real money on stuff.
Yes, there are a few well-documented production deployments out there, but it seems to be around very specific use cases and certainly nothing in the "mainstream platform" category yet.
My good friend Jeramiah Dooley wrote a great post on his recent observations from the latest OpenStack Summit. He rightly points out that VMware (and other non-OSS vendors) have a clear role in the OpenStack framework in bringing enterprise-level capabilities to the federation, without losing that all-important flexibility and freedom of choice.
I couldn't agree more. I'm starting to see OpenStack more as a framework, and less as a product or religion. Here's a basic blueprint and code modules to get stuff done with your cloud; extend and augment as you see fit in your environment.
And I'm starting to meet more customers who see it the same way as well.
The New Wave Of Storage Startups
Spring causes everything to bloom, and this particular spring brings us a huge crop of newer storage startups to consider.
I enjoyed watching the tweetstream from Stephen Foskett's "Storage Field Day 3" (or #SFD3). If you're not familiar, Stephen rounds up a bunch of independent IT blogging types, and sets up back-to-back sessions, usually with smaller technology companies who usually don't have big budgets to get their stories out.
I think he's doing a great service to the industry, although I'm sure after the 7th presentation that starts with the same "we're special, we're unique, here's why" and then gets into the same familiar flash, software, dedupe, scale-out replication discussion -- well, there might not be that much new under the sun.
While there are certainly many new storage companies out there these days, I don't see all that many new ideas coming from them. And, given the rapid transformations that IT is going through, I think we're more in need of powerful new ideas vs. simply more small companies working with familiar building blocks and models.
Each and every one of them calls EMC out, either explicitly or through some sort of vague reference. It's sort of flattering in a way. We're a tough act to compete directly with.
I mean, how many different flavors of flash arrays does the world need? That question has already been answered for smartphones :)
Maybe these companies are hoping to be acquired, but -- even then -- if you make a list of larger IT vendors that might be interested in an acquisition, it's a pretty short list. And some of the bigger names (e.g. Dell, HP, Oracle) appear to have lost their enthusiasm for storage hardware acquisitions, although IBM seems to be making some interesting noises these days.
Besides, the next wave of storage innovation will be about software, not hardware :)
EMC World Around The Corner
If you've been to a recent EMC World, I don't need to sell you on the event.
Big ideas, great technology, fascinating conversations between like-minded, passionate people -- all wrapped up in a very slick and entertaining package.
For those of you who may be wondering -- yes, I'm going to be there. But I'm going to be locked away in a room for most of the time. I'd rather be circulating the event, chatting up friends -- but that's not going to be in the cards this time.
Maybe I'll be able to land in a quiet bar later in the evening to have my martini before finding my pillow ...
The Oh-So-Intriguing Freestructure Event
There's a new kind of event being born this summer, dubbed "Freestructure". EMC (as well as Pivotal and VMware) are among the sponsors.
As I work more and more in the big data analytics space, there appears to be a vast tribe out there who are all feverishly experimenting with data in very interesting ways.
When you ask about what they're doing, they're usually quite humble and modest about how they're using data to change the world around them, but you can always see a passionate shine in their eyes.
I find what these people are doing endlessly fascinating -- maybe you do as well?
So, the stated goal of Freestructure is to bring these sorts of people together -- without falling into the usual "big event" traps: lots of vendors trying to sell you stuff, boring presentations, long lines for mediocre food, overly technical diatribes, etc. I had a chance to review what they were planning, and -- well -- I want to be there.
And I don't like most industry events.
Right now, they're soliciting papers from practitioners who are doing interesting things with data. What are you doing, what have you learned, what victories have you had, and where are your challenges? It's almost a celebration around what you can do with data in the new world.
If you've got the same bug I do, you'll be interested too ...
Back To My Roots
You've probably noticed I haven't been blogging with my usual ferocious intensity lately. Over the last few months, I've started to gravitate to working with a set of very interesting technologies and teams that embody some very big ideas. I'd like to say more, but ... it's not fully baked yet.
The last few years I've been extremely customer and partner focused. While that never goes away for me, it's starting to be displaced by a growing list of internal activities around core technologies -- something I haven't done in quite a while. I think it's good to mix things up once in a while, otherwise you get stale.
And I certainly don't want to get stale ...
Have a great weekend, everyone!