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Does Enterprise IT need a M&A Strategy?

In the past I’ve written about the classic challenge within Enterprise IT, and specifically within the Data Center, that 70-80% of the resources are allocated to “legacy” activities. This obviously leaves very little time to work on new technology-centric innovations to drive the business. Or to put a different way, “IT only does innovation on Friday”.

The McKinsey Quarterly recently had an interesting article about reshaping IT management, where they introduce the concepts “Factory IT” and “Enabling IT”. The premise being that the focus of the Factory IT (70% of the activities) groups should be about cost-reduction, scale, standardization and simplification. The Enabling IT (30%, hopefully growing) should be focused on innovative ways to enable the business to grow. And the management of those groups doesn’t necessarily have to the same, since they’d have different objectives. Read More »

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Informatica Data Integration and Cisco Tidal Enterprise Scheduler: Delivering Timely, Trusted, and Relevant Data for Business Intelligence Reporting

No doubt data is one of an organization’s most important assets. The trick is to turn it into timely and trusted information—information that can be used to rapidly uncover new markets, attract and retain customers, reduce operating costs, shrink time to market, and make smarter strategic decisions. In short, leveraging data can sharpen a company’s ability to navigate markets.

So when we combine Informatica’s world-class data integration platform with Cisco® Tidal Enterprise Scheduler, we are enabling organizations to gain a competitive advantage in today’s global information economy by empowering them with relevant and trustworthy information to support all their business decisions.

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Brocade’s “My Cousin Vinny” Approach to FCoE

November 24, 2010 at 2:48 pm PST

When Brocade announced their “end-to-end native FCoE” solution, and read some of the stuff they were peddling to the trade magazines, I was reminded of the scene in “My Cousin Vinny” where Marisa Tomei’s character is put on the witness stand and challenged by the prosecution to answer a trick question (warning: link contains explicit language).

In a nutshell, in order to show that Tomei’s character doesn’t know anything about cars, the prosecutor attempts to use a lot of fancy language that sound legit but counts on people not understanding how things really work. Read More »

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Another quarter, another few hundred new UCS customers

About 1100 new customers, actually. Up from slightly more than 1700 customers last quarter, or 64% Q/Q growth in the customer base. Or up 2800% from when we started shipping a mere 16 months ago. Now, servers are hardly a new product category. Every single one of these customers already had a preferred server vendor, often of many years standing, and generally with deep pockets and all kinds of contractual mechanisms to help maintain stickiness of heavily commoditized gear. But they decided to give us a shot, and some 30% have already come back with repeat orders as they begin to scale out their UCS installments.

You may be wondering who those customers might be and why they chose UCS. Wonder no more.  There’s a fairly representative sample of customers over on Sean McGee’s blog, which includes both the published Cisco case studies as well as a few other public accounts of UCS adoption. His roundup encompasses a fair number of small-to-midsize enterprises, some large financials, quite a number of healthcare entities, public sector and service providers from around the world. In other words, UCS is interesting to all kinds of people with all kinds of different challenges.

One customer recently told another blogger about why they picked UCS over the field of usual suspects: lower cost (both cap-ex and op-ex), scalable (from small to very large installations), compatible with other key data center players, very easy to deploy and manage, and incredible performance improvements. As you go through the other case studies, you’ll continually see the same themes.  People who have UCS typically love it—personally, I’ve had people buttonhole me at industry events just to tell me so.

The customer example above happens to focus on performance improvements for a virtualized environment, but customers see equally strong gains with bare-metal apps. To pick one example, EMC is migrating their Oracle apps off of Sun RISC platforms to UCS. Cisco IT is doing the same (we currently have over 2500 UCS systems in production), although in our case, the legacy gear is a competitor’s x86 platform. Here are a few of the results of the Cisco IT efforts:

Service providers are typically looking at even greater economies of scale than the above, in terms of hardware TCO with UCS. And for them, speed of service delivery doesn’t just mean less-stressed IT admins and happier stakeholders, it means a competitive edge in acquiring and keeping new business.

This information about the growth of our customer base also has bearing on another recent item of industry discussion. While we have yet to formally report UCS revenue numbers to IDC or other firms, John Chambers indicated to the investor community in September that, based on UCS revenues compared to IDC’s published estimates of competitor revenues and market share, we had reached #3 in the N. American x86 blade market. This was met with some skepticism in the blogosphere, which is fair since the claim was not published by IDC itself, but some also appeared to misread the statement as “#3 in the server market” which would clearly necessitate a much larger revenue base than the x86 blade market.

Oppenheimer channel checks estimated an annualized run rate of $200-250M in revenues at the end of our Q4 (July), in line with run rate statements Mr. Chambers had made previously. And then we indicated a $500M annualized run rate in our FYQ1 earnings call on Nov. 10th. This is a material statement, based on existing revenue numbers and bolstered by the fact that many of our early customers (first purchased a year or so ago) are now entering full-scale UCS deployment phases. If you match the above information up with industry revenue numbers available from IDC and others, you can determine for yourself how viable Cisco’s claims to rapid x86 blade share gains are.

The Automation Imperative

So what’s with the increased interest in automation lately?  No doubt you’ve noticed there have been more than a few blogs already written on this site and others espousing the importance and value of automation.  (“Meet the Newest Member of Your Data Center Operations Team,” Tere’ Bracco, November 8, 2010 and “Mad Scientist Alert,” Christopher Kennessey, October 27, 2010) What trends lie behind this demand?  Three come to mind:

1)     Disappearing cost-benefit of offshoring

2)     Increasing skills shortage

3)     Growing adoption of virtualization/cloud technologies

And each of these deserves a bit more exploration. Today, I will focus on offshoring and leave the other two for future blogs.

Moving IT operations to low-cost parts of the world has been a very lucrative exercise for the past two decades.  However, the financial benefits that were obvious 10 years ago are mostly gone thanks to increasing salaries in India, China, and other emerging countries combined with rising hassle costs (compliance, regulations, security, communications, language, and management) associated with off-shoring.  Here is a quote from Sramana Mitra who wrote a very well publicized and much debated article in 2008 titled “The death of Indian outsourcing” (http://www.sramanamitra.com/2008/01/22/death-of-indian-outsourcing/).  She writes “Rising wages in the most popular offshore centers (especially Bangalore), are eroding the cost advantage that drove this business to India in the first place. When the practice began, there was a 1:10 cost advantage. Today, this has dropped to 1:3. Over the next 5 years, perhaps, it won’t make sense to send work to India anymore.”  Further complicating the offshoring play is the 20-40% attrition rates seen in many of these low-cost countries.

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