One thing was obvious at VMworld Europe this year, the amount of solutions based on end to end pre-defined architectures was staggering. Converged Infrastructure (CI) has never been so high on the agenda but with the announcement of EVO:RAIL CI now on the lips of everyone from C-Level execs to the Joe Admin at the coal face.
This was a real eye opener for me personally. I have spent the last 4 to 5 years on booths trying to explain to people what CI is and why its not just a ‘marking’ play. (though some CI is just that). To have most people come to the VCE booth this year already with the concepts behind CI in their heads and how it can benefit their business was fantastic and allowed for real solution focused conversations. This was the moment that really showed me that CI here to stay and is how companies will deploy their infrastructure in the future.
Pretty much everyone that came to the booth had a similar message from walking the floor though. “Every vendor is saying they have THE ANSWER, but not just one answer they have several, im so confused”. After walking the floor and knowing the CI and wider industry how I do, i cant say i blame them. There is so much choice that people are stuck seeing trees but missing the wood.
I came across this quote on wikipedia from The Paradox of Choice
Autonomy and Freedom of choice are critical to our well being, and choice is critical to freedom and autonomy. Nonetheless, though modern Americans have more choice than any group of people ever has before, and thus, presumably, more freedom and autonomy, we don’t seem to be benefiting from it psychologically.
—quoted from Ch.5, The Paradox of Choice, 2004
This really does ring true with the current state of the industry IMO. CI is bad enough right now as a competitive space with different ways to cut the cake, but add in all the IaaS, PaaS, SDN, SNS, 3rd platform this and that etc that everyone and their dog are offing a layer on the cake and you have a critical mass of confusion. Even vendors that offer a single 2u CI offering are bundling in everything under the sun as standard and then some more on top as options.
How companies approach support, operate, maintenance, upgrades, patchs etc etc when faced with such complexity is without doubt the challenge. Speeds and feeds along with general capability are obviously important but even if you treat the tin as commodity those soft issues are not to be shirked and are the main concern at large enterprises and SPs, especially at the C-Level.
One of the benefits of going CI is simplicity both from a tin/software perspective but also from a high level ops view. I’m always honest with people I talk to. If, for example, you want the latest Haswell Chip the day after a Cisco GAs it then VCE and Vblock may not be for you as it undermines the values of Vblock and increases the risk. Not every version of every product from the VCE investor companies (yes Cisco is still and investor before anyone things of a cheeky comment) can be integrated as we would be testing for in an infinite loop and never release a product. So we streamline those choices while trying not to impede on that autonomy and freedom that choice brings.
The market in general is in a state of flux. No one quite knows what the future will hold. Its becoming quite obvious (to me at least) that the whole world will not be dominated by the likes of AWS and Azure anytime soon (perhaps when my son starts work it will be, he’s 6 btw). So there will undoubtedly be some natural thinning in the marketplace i feel in the near to mid future. Bets are being hedged and people are starting to make decisions but in my humble opinion companies will be struggling with Confusion, Complexity and vendor Sprawl for some time to come.
Obviously, i think im work for a company with the right approach. But this is not a sales post, just a general observation of the market and the complexity companies are facing on a day to day basis.