Garlic bread. It’s the future. I’ve tasted it.

For those of you who don’t understand the reference, I recommend you run out and buy Phoenix Nights and watch every episode.  Absolutely hilarious!  You’re welcome.

Sorry I haven’t blogged since, well …2009!  A belated Happy New Year to you all and, needless to say, with the holidays, designing virtual datacentre cubes …plus my day job …things have been very hectic and I’ve got a bunch of posts swirling round in this little brain of mine.

I was going to discuss the snowcalypse we had and how mobile technology has changed the IT landscape forever, but was reminded of a favourite phrase of my grandmother’s …‘Snow is like family.  You’re delighted to see them when it has been a while, but they both stink after three days.’  Then again, she also says ‘If you’re right 98% of the time, why worry about the other 3%?’ so I wouldn’t believe everything that my grandmother says.

Over the recent winter holidays …okay, they were almost two months ago now but they feel recent … I gave two gifts, one physical and one not, which got me thinking about technology.

My grandmother lives quite some distance away …about 3,803 miles to be exact, but who’s counting …so visiting her frequently is a bit challenging, as is her spending time with her great-grandson, PL Junior.  I’ve taken to using the great and vaunted cloud computing technologies Facebook and Skype to enable my grandmother to see videos we’ve taken of PL Junior and also interact with him now that, at three and a half, he is fully interactive!  In fact, he doesn’t shut up from the moment he wakes until he goes to sleep.  Honestly, I just don’t know where he gets that from!  My grandmother has taken to co-opting my sisters, neighbours, aunt …pretty much anyone with any technological ability …into teaching her how to use a computer so she can access Facebook and interact with her great-grandson.  At the tender age of 84, that’s not bad going!

My mother-in-law, by stark contrast, lives remarkably close to us and is also a lover of all things java.  Coffee, mind, not the software developed by Sun …ooops, I meant Oracle.  Sorry Uncle Larry!  But I digress.  In any case, I thought I would be a good son-in-law and buy her an automated coffee maker like the one we have and have fallen in love with over the past six years.  She and my father-in-law were delighted by the gift, asked me to show them how to use it, and made Mrs. PL and I coffee the next time we were around for Sunday brunch.  Imagine my surprise when, recently when we had to stay with my in-laws whilst our boiler was repaired, I heard not the sounds of the Nespresso machine being engaged in the morning but …the kettle and the distinctive sound of Nestle instant coffee being spooned into mugs.

What does this have to do with Data Storage and Protection?

People, whether they be consumers or the CXOs of large businesses, tend not to change anything unless they can see cost benefit and an improvement in the way that they were previously doing things which we sometimes call agility.

I would love to be able to visit my grandmother more often, but with the a young family and career this isn’t always possible.  My grandmother can see the benefit in using technologies such as Facebook and so has learned how to use them to allow her to enjoy PL Junior as much as possible.

My mother-in-law, on the other hand, loved the gift of the Nespresso machine but has remarked to Mrs. PL that she doesn’t use it very often as, frankly, boiling the kettle is much quicker and she can live with the difference in quality.

And so it is with customers and cloud computing, virtualisation, et al.

Why haven’t more adopted cloud computing?  Sure, there are the standard arguments regarding data security and the like, but I think one of the biggest reasons is that very few …if any …cloud providers have shown trust cost benefit analysis for customers choosing to adopt cloud solutions.

Equally, whilst virtualised datacentres are the way of the future it won’t really matter whether it be VCE vBlock, VCN NetApp Virtualise Anything, IBM Dynamic Infrastructure, HP Converged Infrastructure or indeed some other ‘flavour’ …or an open VDC …if you can’t show a customer demonstrable cost benefit and how a customer will be able to increase business agility it becomes nothing more than an interesting idea and a big ‘so what’ that folks won’t adopt for some time.

My predictions?

1.  VDCs will reduce datacentre costs.

Deploying fully virtualised datacentres will see us reduce CAPEX and OPEX costs by as much as 50% or more …forever.  We’re currently building VDCs in the Hatfield Solution Centre to test, test, and test some more …and you can bet that total cost of ownership validation will be high on the list of testing.

2.  Customers who deploy VDCs will be able to innovate and become more agile by looking after their structured data and ‘out-tasking / outsourcing’ their unstructured data.

If we accept the industry standard metric that an average customer environment is comprised of 20% structured data [ERP, customer billing systems, customer databases, etc.] and 80% unstructured [PPTs, email, MP3s] …not to mention all of the deuplicate and dormant data in the unstructured data …we can assume that customers don’t really make any money on unstructured data.  I’m betting that in five years time …or less …we will see structured data catered for by GUI / virtualised mainframes [e.g. Oracle Exadata, IBM zSeries] with corporate IT departments focussed on the structured data and how to use it to be more agile and competitive in their respective market.  But what to do with all of that unstructured data?

3.  Unstructured data will be catered for by virtualised datacentres; VDCs will allow users to containerise applications and shrink datacentre space by an order of magnitude.  Think ‘buckyballs’.

VDCs will enable customers to containerise whole applications where a container will be comprised of a virtualised application [e.g. email] plus the virtualised grid storage [e.g. IBM XiV, NetApp, or EMC vMax] virtualised compute [e.g. Cisco UCS], plus the hypervisor [e.g. VMware] and virtual network to operate it.  If you have a container, you can move that container …real time …to a service provider like Computacenter thus freeing up critical datacentre space.  Just like a buckyball customers will be able to shrink their datacentres without losing the structural integrity of their businesses.

4.  There’s too much religion in technology.

As I’ve said many times in the past, I’ve got a religion …and it ain’t storage.  Steve Jobs made a mistake by being too messianic about the iPad.  Will it change the world?  Not likely, but it is a very sexy bit of technology that will allow Apple to potentially control yet another media distribution model with newspapers, magazines, and books delivered automatically to your iPad much in the same way that iPods have made listening to digital music ridiculously easy and ultra-convenient.  Equally, the iTunes app store is now worth $1.4b per annum …and Gartner are predicting the mobile application market to overtake desktop apps by 2013.  Underestimate Jobs and mobile apps at your peril, but I would also argue that so vendors made a mistake about being too messianic regarding cloud.  But this is not to say that this isn’t the future, and we need to show how you reduce costs and increase agility with such technology.

5.  Subscription models have …and will continue …to change the way we consume.

There was a time, not so long ago, when we would stop in a high street shop such as Carphone Warehouse to buy a mobile phone.  Why?  Because it was a new technology and we didn’t really understand how the minutes and related fine print of a contract work.  When’s the last time you visited a high street shop to buy a mobile phone?  As consumers became au fait with the contract model, suppliers met them half way by giving them a ‘free’  phone based upon how many minutes the user contracted to.  I don’t think it is so very far away to believe that a customer purchasing a managed service contract for three or five years will be given a ‘free’ virtualised datacentre.  Don’t believe me?  Think it won’t work for ‘big ticket’ items?  We see this model already changing the way electric cars are sold …Shai Agassi bets he can get you to drive an electric car if he gives you one for free, and the experience is no worse than that you currently have with your motor.  If he’s right, we may be on the way to cracking global warming.

In any case, have a great weekend and here’s to a virtual virtual virtual world!


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2 Responses to “Garlic bread. It’s the future. I’ve tasted it.”

  1. Chris M Evans Says:


    Peter Kay seems to have a bit of a fascination with garlic bread. I also am reminded of a quote of his along the lines of “Garlic – and bread? Garlic and bread – no thank you….”.

    However, I do agree that abstracting the hardware from the functionality is the future. We’ve no need to care about what hardware we use (at all levels), so why worry? Commodity and abstraction is the future. Now, where’s my order of garlic bread and pizza?

  2. Matthew Yeager Says:

    Thanks Chris, couldn’t agree more! It always has been ‘horses for courses’ re hardware selection, and commoditisation coupled with true abstraction means we can get back to using IT to drive business innovation as opposed to new techy toys in my humble opinion.

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