IBM, Red Hat and the Value of Customer Comfort

By Charles King, Pund-IT®  July 17, 2019

In IBM’s recent announcement closing its $34B acquisition of Red Hat, the company said the deal:

  • Positions IBM as a leading hybrid cloud provider, accelerates its high-value business model and extends Red Hat’s open source innovation to a broader range of clients
  • Will preserve Red Hat’s independence and neutrality. Red Hat will operate as a distinct business unit within IBM, its current executive team (including CEO Jim Whitehurst) will lead the organization, and IBM will maintain Red Hat’s headquarters, facilities, brands and practices.
  • Will strengthen Red Hat’s existing partnerships to continue giving customers freedom, choice and flexibility. Those partners include major cloud providers, such as AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud and Alibaba.
  • Leave unchanged Red Hat’s unwavering commitment to open source.
  • Empower IBM and Red Hat to deliver the next-generation hybrid multicloud platform based on open source technologies, such as Linux and Kubernetes. That will allow businesses to securely deploy, run and manage data and applications on-premises and on private and multiple public clouds.

Do these points make sense given the two companies’ history and relative strengths? If so, are there any challenges or barriers they face in pursuing these goals? Finally, what can customers and partners expect moving forward? Continue reading

Lenovo DCG: “Exascale for Everyone” Meets HPC for All

By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc.  July 2, 2019

In past commentaries on supercomputing and high-performance computing (HPC), including the results of the latest Top500.org lists, I noted the benefits that dynamically flow from high-end systems to smaller businesses. In large part, that is due to the continuing upward evolution of computing technologies that drives costs down across the spectrum of IT solutions. But that process has also been hastened by specific trends, including the rise and performance of supercomputers leveraging industry standard components.

How that impacts commercial markets is evident in Lenovo’s standing in the most recent Top500 list where the company increased its leadership position in the total number of systems listed. But the nature of those listings is equally important, as was a recent blog posted by Matt Ziegler, director of HPC and AI Product Management and Marketing at Lenovo, entitled “Exascale for Everyone.” Let’s take a closer look at Lenovo’s recent Top500 listings, Ziegler’s blog and what they mean for commercial markets and businesses. Continue reading

VMware’s Past, Present and Future in Cloud Computing

By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc.  June 26, 2019

While the term “cloud computing” has been around since the mid-1990s and its underlying concepts for even longer, it is a mistake to think of cloud as something fully formed or entirely mature. Instead, cloud solutions continue to evolve and follow the rapid commercial transformation that began when Amazon relaunched AWS, including the Elastic Compute Cloud service in 2006.

Though VMware isn’t always at the top of cloud computing pioneer lists, its cloud roots and pedigree are as deep as any vendor’s can be. Why so? Because hardware virtualization technologies, like the company’s vSphere offerings, are central to cloud functionality. VMware launched its first formal cloud effort (the vCloud initiative) over a decade ago and since then has steadily delivered solutions and services that address the cloud computing needs of its enterprise clients.

A recent Cloud Analyst Event offered some intriguing insights into the current state and future direction of VMware’s cloud efforts and strategies. Continue reading

IBM Powers its Way to a Top500.org Trifecta

By Charles King. Pund-IT, Inc.  June 19, 2019

There are numerous ways to quantify the performance of supercomputers. In fact, Top500.org, the organization that publishes semi-annual lists ranking the world’s most powerful supercomputing installations, includes data ranging from architectures to processors to accelerators to interconnects. Vendors’ contributions to specific systems are provided, as well as how their solutions fared in terms of overall performance and share of the list. The group also ranks systems by energy efficiency (the Green500) and High Performance Conjugate Gradients (HPCG).

While it is common for specific vendors and systems to enjoy relatively stable positions at the high end of the Top500, the Green500 list tends to be more diverse and fluid. In addition, supercomputers owned by businesses are seldom seen among the 20 or 30 highest ranked Top500 installations. That’s mainly due to high-end supercomputers’ costs and complexities which are far easier to manage in universities and government research facilities than in real world business settings.

These points are worth considering in light of the new Top500 and Green500 lists published this week. IBM announced that it is the only vendor to have multiple supercomputers in the top 10 of both lists – the Summit, Sierra, and Lassen systems deployed at U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) labs. Plus, IBM announced that the new Pangea III supercomputer the company built for Total Exploration, an oil and gas company with operations in 130 countries, was ranked #11 on the Top500 list and #8 on the Green500.

Let’s take a closer look at this trifecta of announcements and consider what IBM’s top ranked systems portend for supercomputing applications and customers. Continue reading

Dell Precision at Computex – How Innovation Enables Business Evolution

By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc.  June 12, 2019

A common view of evolutionary process imagines continual upward motion—graphics of “the ascent of man” depicting the development of early hominids into modern humans is a classic example. But in the IT industry, computational evolution or at least the spark of evolution can be said to move both upward and downward.

That’s due in large part to the ongoing efforts among PC, workstation and server vendors to improve their products with the latest, greatest CPUs, GPUs, memory, storage, networking and display technologies. Those enhancements result in high-end solutions designed for enterprises and other well-funded organizations. But at the same time, they can also be used to develop products suitable for individuals and companies with more modest budgets, enabling them to continue their own evolutionary journeys.

The mobile, desktop and rack-enabled Precision workstations recently introduced by Dell Technologies at Computex offer great examples of this process and its potential benefits. Let’s dig into the details. Continue reading

How Dell Technologies OEM & IoT Division is Addressing Clients’ Current and Future Needs

By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc.  June 5, 2019

Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) have been so central to the tech industry for so long that’s it’s easy to think you know everything about them. Mainly, people associate OEM functions and processes with the hardware vendors that make products which run popular commercial operating systems, like Microsoft Windows and Windows Server, along with thousands of business and consumer applications, toolsets, apps and utilities.

That’s a fair if generalized view of the subject, but it ignores the services that many of those same vendors offer to numerous companies, from tiny start-ups to multi-national enterprises. In essence, OEM organizations provide the computing “brains” that power everything from set-top cable boxes to bank ATMs to smart TVs and other home appliances to manufacturing and automation solutions to medical testing and imaging equipment to telco switching systems.

How OEMs contribute to the development, design and manufacturing of these products varies widely. That said, the notable success and continuing growth of Dell Technologies’ OEM organization over the past decade makes it a subject worth examining. Continue reading

HPE Buys Cray – Seeks to Return to HPC Relevance. Again.

By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc.  May 29, 2019

The success of corporate acquisitions is never guaranteed. Too many things can go wrong. Deals look better on paper than they do in real life. Planned strategies falter. Hoped for synergies are DOA. Executive power plays cause long range damage. Key employees feel unloved and seek greener pastures.

Plus, there’s simple poor planning or execution. An acquiring company may believe that the object of its attentions offers assets, people and capital that can aid its own endeavors. But, after the deal is done, it never properly or fully does what’s necessary to gain the full benefits of the investment. The practical effect is the business equivalent of a sugar rush. A few months of “Whoa, mama! How fast can this sucker go?” ending with a Thelma and Louise-style flameout.

It happens to even highly successful companies, often time and again, with Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) being a notable example. Though its recent purchase of legendary supercomputing leader Cray has been widely lauded, the history of HPE’s acquisitions suggests a more cautious approach is warranted, especially when it comes to supercomputing. Let’s consider that more closely. Continue reading

Lenovo Accelerate 2019 – Transformation Comes from Within

By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc.  May 21, 2019

“Transformation” is a commonplace concept in the tech industry, and for good reason. Since the very beginning of computing, servers, personal computers, storage and networking systems and other technology products and services have been employed to fundamentally alter the ways that people live and work. Transformational IT tools and solutions have helped organizations achieve goals and successes that would have been unthinkable a generation or two ago.

But while these business transformations are compelling and even inspiring, how exactly does the process work? That subject was in the spotlight at last week’s Lenovo Accelerate 2019 partner conference in Orlando, Florida, and central to the Transform 3.0 event and industry analyst council hosted by its Data Center Group (DCG). Let’s consider what transformation means to the company and its partners, and how it is helping Lenovo DCG shift the competitive balance in numerous markets. Continue reading

IBM Reinvents the Z Mainframe, Again

By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc.  May 14, 2019

Reports of the imminent demise of IBM’s Z mainframes, the company’s flagship enterprise system platform, have been floated – only to plummet ignominiously earthward – for over a quarter century or nearly half of the time the mainframe has been commercially available. Such rumors initially arose among IBM’s competitors in the early 1990s when the company was on the ropes, reeling like a punch-drunk boxer past his prime, until Lou Gerstner’s sober management got it back in fighting trim.

You can understand why some vendors would willingly spread garden variety fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD), attempting to undermine faith in a platform they didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of besting. But how and why has IBM proved them, along with countless numbers of doubtful analysts, reporters and industry experts so wrong, so regularly for so long? The answer is fairly simple: Along with being the industry’s most stable, resilient and secure enterprise system, the IBM Z is also more flexible and adaptable than other platforms.

In essence, the reason that the mainframe has thrived for well over a half century is because IBM has reinvented it time and again to support the evolving needs and business requirements of its enterprise customers. That ability to evolve in order to support the evolution of others is clear in the Tailored Fit Pricing for IBM Z offerings that the company announced this week. Continue reading

Dell Technologies World 2019 – Putting Customers’ Workplaces #1

By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc.  May 8, 2019

There was a time when most personal computers (PCs) for business had a specifically utilitarian look and feel: clunky, durable, built for the long haul—not for speed. It was more about practicality than a dedication to any specific design aesthetic. While consumers tended to replace their PCs every 3 to 4 years, it wasn’t unusual to see commercial organizations squeezing 4 to 5 or even six years out of workplace PCs.

Things began to change in the mid-2000s with the advent of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trends among younger workers who preferred highly mobile solutions to tethered office PCs and phones. Their employers and IT vendors followed close behind with generations of ever more powerful, sleek client devices, including notebooks, tablets and smart phones. But it would be a mistake to think that client devices alone define workplace computing. Equally or even more important are the related deployment and PC lifecycle management (PCLM) services vendors offer commercial customers.

Last week at Dell Technologies World 2019, the company showed off the 10th generation of its venerable Latitude mobile PCs for business. In addition, it introduced the new Dell Technologies Unified Workspace, a suite of services that it offers businesses for deploying, managing, maintaining and securing client devices of every kind. Let’s take a closer look at what Dell announced and what it means for the company’s tens of thousands of commercial customers. Continue reading