2014 Predictions? Instead “2014 Focus!”

I decided to write this blog somewhat inspired by John Troyer’s blog + tweet about 2014 predictions here.  I love Duncan Epping’s response here.  That said I thought I’d provide what are my focus areas for 2014 as something potentially more useful than a prediction (and I’ll through in a couple predictions just for fun)…

Mentality – Lighten up, seek to understand before asking to be understood.

This industry seems to be full of people either being way too critical of visions like VDI, all Flash arrays, Cloud, and Software Defined X.  I know it seems like a path to be cool by being critical and there are a ton of “doubting Thomas’s” (show me proof before I believe).  How in the hell did anything ever get built in those minds?  Open the mind and let it breath.  Just instill a bit of balance.  I’m convinced this is group-think where no one wants to be uncool by embracing anything that’s visionary unless you can touch it, validate it.

Private (local) Data Center – To Software Define or not to Software Define, that is the question.

There seems to be a lot of grinding about what to refer to this as; Software Defined, Private Cloud, or just complain about labels.  Here’s a couple of thoughts for 2014;

  • Software Defined Data Center – this is a pilgrimage to manageability and automation.  Whether you want to define this as policy automation, control planes, or whatever… this is about advancing beyond a flat, tactical Data Center.  There’s an question out there from a book; “Why is there no Burlington Airlines?”  The answer; they didn’t understand they were in the transportation business.  They just committed to the mentality of just being a railroad company dammit!.  Data Center admins, directors…. heads up.  Don’t be on the top 10 Data Centers displaced by “X”.
  • OpenStack – This might need to become my #1 study up area for 2014.  With the release of Havana the OpenStack platform has really impressed people and the momentum is VMware-like.  Will the industry shift to open source software and shift from proprietary architecture, leveraging commodity hardware?  Nothing will move that quickly but the industry is solidly behind this movement.

“Cloud-ology” – What can be said that hasn’t been said?

All I can say is; research options and what they provide, like investment funds.  My top 3 favorite ideology focuses;

  • Customization/Flexibility: Unitas Global – Love this new player!  HQ out of SoCal they provide a completely customizable “Enterprise Private Cloud” where you can select your hardware/software stacks of choice (within reason), Cloud Orchestration of choice, and they provide a their own developed managed service software + Global NOC’s called “Mission Control”.
  • Easiest Extension: VMware vCloud Hybrid Service – I love this for a different reason; extension.  Most folks have VMware.  I love VMware. With this new service VMware provides potentially the most seamless way to embrace an external cloud service by extending existing VMware environments to it’s hosting vCloud sites.  You have the potential to keep networking and manageability settings, tools, and framework to be stupid simple for extending to an offsite cloud as well as fully embrace all that cloud has to offer.
  • New School: OpenStack Providers…  This feels like VMware all over again.  New ideology, new technology, new approaches, etc.  What makes this different is the community approach (notice I didn’t say commodity approach).  Why this impacts the ideology of Cloud IMO is this could single-handily unlock one proprietary Cloud software provider (i.e. Microsoft, Red Hat, VMware, etc).  It feels a bit like communism because you’d think no one will profit from free software but actually it’s really commercialism and entrepreneurial at hard.  The shift moves to people, skills, evangelism, and strategic investments.

Beyond VDI; End User Computing – Is the rally cry here still that 1/4 of pc’s will still be on Windows XP after April?  Give me a Virtual Desktop?

Not.  Does anyone want Windows on an iPad anymore?  I’ll be focusing on how my wife, 11 yr old son, college kids, and friends want to use computing for an organizational purpose.  In some cases we are all too irrelevant because we know and assume too much.  As I approach this my focus will all be about user context, profiling, and then mapping to an elastic building block architecture (not just for 1 user type but many profiles).  I’ll focus on providing them liberation w/org controls for virtualized access to files, apps, and yes full Windows OS because that still remains the vast majority of organizational productivity.  I can’t rewrite corp apps to all be SaaS or web based…  I’ll just focus on solving for the EUC issues.

Storage Wars – Peace, love, and harmony…

Wow, what a year for storage.  In 2014 I’ll be focusing on how this category plays out.  Scale out, scale up, proprietary, commodity, etc.

  • Flash – I did an event on this in June 2013; Flash Forum which was a big hit.  I’ll be focusing on criteria to differentiate and evaluate to help organization understand the truth; pros and cons.  All flash?  Hybrid flash?  yes.
  • Converged – I’ll focus on how this moves beyond reference and assembled architecture to next gen convergence and how that fits into Cloud, VDI, SDDC, and things like OpenStack.
  • Software Defined Storage – Who has this?  Good debate.  I’ll be focusing on how this plays out.  On one hand I could argue Tintri and VMware have the only SDS true plays out there because to me it HAS to be policy driven and hopefully doesn’t output to a storage classification like a LUN.  That said, I do see the awesome value in NetApp, EMC, HP, IBM, HDS, DataCore, and Nexenta having solutions that can manage other storage but that’s storage virtualization, not Software Defined.  Again, that should be a higher level around orchestration and policy based automation.  2 cents.
  • Beyond Backup – IMO this should focus on being a software definable attribute like RPO, RTO, site resiliency, granularity, and other definable business details.  I also will be focusing on the future Federation of backup and data protection assets.   IMO Federation of heterogeneous backup is one of key’s to the future of SDS.

IT Service Management (ITSM) – Simple concept here; advance, automate, and deal with end users that say FUIT (see Brian Madden’s reference to F.U. IT).  Get your systems prepared so you can order toilet paper through it (reference Craig Pratt).  See ServiceNow for future platform.

How to move forward – Don’t rush into things.  Take a discovery process to flush out requirements.  Don’t take forever but don’t miss the opportunities during expansion, moves, changes, refreshes, and problems to utilize tools to scan the environment and create a scientific book that narrows specifically what options you may want to choose.  Focus on requirements outside of technical like operational and political.  Everyone rushes to nail the technical requirements to go get the best price.  Amateur hour.

….sure a few predication’s:

  1. Consolidation – Cloud Providers, VAR’s, and technology providers will all consolidate in 2014.  The industry will have to flush out some to make way for the new startups….
  2. Beyond – We’re due here!  In 2014 we’ll get beyond the traditional models of virtualization, storage, and networking.  This isn’t cloud or open software community but organizations finally moving in mass.  It will be the year of “beyond”.
  3. Post-Apathy – In 2014 we’ll see the people of this industry start to shake the hangover of the VMware boom.  I’m referring to the apathy that has struck the industry for the past few year because they didn’t get the tech high VMware and others provided when they’d get the HUGE announcements every year for 5 straight years.  We will re-establish the marathon-er’s pace for technology and look for incremental ideas and the art in design.
  4. I will not loose weight…  At least if I get this wrong I’ll be happy.

Happy Holidays and an early Happy 2014 everyone!