Cause I can’t lose now, there’s no game to play…"
On August 2, 1978, the rock band, “Boston”, released the title track of their new album - “Don’t Look Back”. The hit song eventually rose to #4 on the Top 100 Billboard chart that year.
Don’t Look Back could be a key theme for some of the movers and shakers in the information technology industry as 2015 represented a year of some significant change for several multi-billion dollar organizations.
So which events made the top of the hit parade in terms of tectonic shifts felt throughout the IT landscape? In the spirit of the Casey Kasem countdown, I’ll start in reverse order:
#3 - Hewlett Packard’s split into HP Inc (HPQ). and HP Enterprise (HPE)
The separation of HP’s consumer products (now known as HP Inc.) from its enterprise or business technology products division (HPE), was the first major split in the storied company’s 76 year history. Part of the rationale behind this move was to enable HP’s enterprise business to compete more effectively with cloud behemoths like AWS. Interestingly, however, several weeks before the separation was made official, HP announced their exit from the public cloud provider market. The rationale behind this move is to help HP customers and cloud service provider partners alike, implement hybrid cloud solutions leveraging technologies like HP's Helion private/hybrid cloud management software. And as I discussed in a recent blog post, HP's new composable infrastructure offering, can be used to build-out massively scalable private cloud and multi-tenant public cloud environments.
#2 - John Chambers steps down as Cisco’s CEO
At Cisco Live 2015, John Chambers gave an impassioned speech about the need for IT professionals and IT organizations to embrace change. The ceremonial passing of the Cisco helm from Chambers to Cisco's newly minted CEO, Chuck Robbins, served as a stirring and yet somewhat poignant example of this need for change. But for Cisco, this change in executive leadership is merely one rung in the ladder to IT cloud transformation. Chambers also pointed out that organizations have to move beyond past business models if they’re going to survive long term; even if they continue to serve them well (a clear allusion to Cisco’s proprietary routers and switches). Indeed, Cisco’s betting heavily on their Intercloud partner strategy, in tandem with their approach to software-defined data center technologies, to help their clients, partners and Cisco’s business to transform in the eye of the public cloud storm.
#1 - Dell’s Acquisition of EMC
No singular event in 2015 outweighs the titanic $67 billion acquisition of EMC by Dell. While there is still a lot that has to be ironed out before the merging of these two mammoth entities is official, when consummated, the new and expanded Dell will clearly be a force to be reckoned with in the hybrid cloud marketplace. As I mentioned in my blog covering the acquisition, Dell/EMC customer sentiment is largely favorable about how the combined organizations can potentially service their IT transformational needs. And through VMware’s vCloud Air public cloud offering, the combined hardware and software offerings of these organizations can provide a one-stop hybrid cloud shop — the preferred cloud computing model of traditional IT enterprises. Still this transaction is not without its fair share of detractors.
Naysayers of the deal point to increased competition, particularly in the enterprise storage space, by technology startups in the all flash and hyperconverged markets. Perhaps the biggest challenge for Dell, however, will be rationalizing the embarrassment of riches that now comprises their newly acquired hardware and software portfolio. Likewise, realignment in key areas like sales and engineering and acclimatizing employees to the new organizational culture will likely take some time and could prove distracting, at least over the short term. Still, there are reasons for Michael Dell and company to be optimistic - according to ESG’s hybrid cloud survey of over 300 IT professionals, 85% of businesses plan to utilize their proprietary infrastructure to serve as the foundation for their private cloud environments (VMware, of course, being the key linchpin). Furthermore, nearly 50% of these same respondents indicated they were likely to use their current technology vendors to help them build their cloud infrastructure. Given Dell and EMC’s combined strength, this could give them a pole position in the enterprise hybrid cloud race from which they may never look back.