The end of history and the last technology?

Francis Fukuyama wrote The End of History and the Last Man in which he famously postulated that, as far as systems of government and markets were concerned we had reached the ‘end of history’ …democracy and the free market had defeated all comers and, as far as Francis was concerned, the only thing left open to debate was how to implement such systems and what controls were required for regulation.  The book became a bit of a touchstone and rallying point for what would become known as neo-cons, but as time has marched on many of Francis’ original assertions have been challenged by the likes of Robert Kagan in The Return of History and the End of Dreams …as well as real world events like 11 September, the Iraq war, and the recent economic recession.  The end of history?  Doubtful.  Just as surely as we have debated systems of government and markets since Greek and Roman times, so we will surely debate them in the weeks, months, and years ahead. 

What has this got to do with data storage and protection?

There have been many exciting developments in technology generally and storage specifically over the past few weeks.  VMware, Cisco, and EMC …the VCE consortium or coalition, if you will …announced a reference architecture which is essentially a virtualised datacentre in a box called vBlock as a infrastructure package / product in its own right, with Acadia as a private cloud ‘solution provider’ to help enterprise customers migrate their existing infrastructures to said virtualised datacentre and possibly even the much vaunted cloud.  Not to be outdone or left behind, HP also made a similar announcement regarding their converged infrastructure, and then made things very interesting by acquiring 3Com for $2.7 billion.  We also had IBM with their development and test cloud launch and the IBM Cloud Academy, and we mustn’t forget BT having selected NetApp as their provider of choice for BT cloud offerings labelled the Virtual Datacentre.

Now, announcements are all well and good but there remains plenty left for us to more fully understand about just what these solutions will look like …and cost …so I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself nor overstep my bounds prior to more senior Computacenter executive views on what this all means for both us and our customers. 

That said, I am hugely excited about what, at first glance, would appear to be the conversion of hype to reality.  We’ve heard so much about ‘cloud’ computing over the past few years that customers were becoming palpably sceptical …in many cases, cynical …about the ‘cloud’, and I can’t say that I blame them.  Indeed, if you want to have fun ask two industry analysts or vendors to defined cloud and watch the three or more definitions come back.  I say fun, but I’m a geek remember so I tend to find analysts and vendors arguing about these things humorous …but customers don’t and, frankly, don’t really care about the new whizz bang features of a cloud solution.  No, what they care about is how technology can improve their business …or Sharpen it, if you will …to reduce their costs in the pursuit of their being competitive in their respective market.

So are these announcements the signalling of the end of history for technology …will the cloud be the final end point for customer computing infrastructures and datacentres?  I personally don’t think so, and tend to view the announcements as a watershed waypoint rather than an endpoint.  Just as I don’t believe that Spotify will be the death of iPods or iTunes, nor do I believe that customers will take an ‘all or nothing’ approach to cloud computing.

If you look more closely at the recent vendor announcements, what is perhaps most interesting is that the productisation of a virtualised datacentre through the use of a reference architecture is essentially made possible by aligning core products such as VMware, a scale out storage offering, blade servers, a unified network to bring it all together, and software to automate the provisioning and management of the lot. 

And here is where I fundamentally believe we can add real and demonstrable value. 

We are well versed with capabilities which far outweigh our competition in the components which make a virtualised datacentre possible.  Don’t believe me?

We have been involved with VMware since 2002 and won a Supplier Innovation Award in 2007 from BT

I’ve been developing collateral, running customer education events, and providing internal training around grid storage solutions such as IBM XiV, EMC Vmax, and NetApp ONTAP 8 internally for well over a year. 

We have more BMC, BladeLogic, and Tideway datacenter automation experience than anyone in the UK. 

We’ve automated the provisioning of data storage

We have skills in Cisco networking, virtualised I/O solutions such as Xsigo, and unified network architectures such as FCoE.

Put simply, we have demonstrable skills and expertise to advise and assist customers every step of the way from their existing traditional datacentre …and the low utilisation and high costs it undoubtedly entails …to a virtualised and automated datacentre with the high efficiency, increased utilisation, and lowered and predictable costs it promises.  What’s more, we have an equation in [ROI] + [CBA] + [DPB] = CSS which we use to quantifiably measure what our customers will reap by moving to the next step …and, in certain circumstances, we will agree with a customer to underwrite and gainshare the difference between their existing costs and the lowered costs our proposed solution has identified.

The end of history?  No, I think this is just the beginning …and Computacenter are ideally placed to help customers write the next exciting chapters.

As always, please don’t hesitate to contact me if you would like help in taking this journey.

Have a great weekend,

-Matthew

Click here to contact me.

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