Warning. These “top forecasts for the next year” from all sources, are always a load of hoo-haa – and mine is no exception :-) If any of us truly had a crystal ball – we’d likely be doing something else :-)
I feel very fortunate to be in a place where I get exposed to a lot (EMC, VMware, Pivotal and other internal sources, lots of partners – and most of all – what I hear from innumerable customer interactions) – so perhaps this might be helpful – and less self-centered than it might be otherwise.
Please recognize that like all things on this blog, the disclaimer that opinions expressed here are my personal opinions applies in full. As always, content published here is not read or approved in advance by EMC and does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of EMC. This is my blog, it is not an EMC blog.
Read on past the break for my “Top 10 industry prognostications” and “Top desirable career traits/skills” for 2013.
I covered this on a webcast yesterday, and you can listen to it for the the dialog and QnA here. You can download the .ppt at the link below:
Again, warning, these are just my honest and personal opinions – no more, no less.
Let’s start with the “Top 10” industry forecasts:
- VMware and Openstack will be “frenemies” that “coopete” furiously while Hyper-V watches
- I’m seeing more and more OpenStack (still mostly in the service providers/education – but starting to appear a LITTLE in enterprise conversations). While arguably the weakest of the options for an enterprise – there is great power behind an FOSS community with momentum.
- Hyper-V3 in Windows Server 2013 is potent. While still far from the capabilities of VMware overall (things like Storage DRS as an example, VDP, vSphere Replication, etc), it catches up on so many, and even surpasses on some (like the frustrating 2TB VMDK limit). So why won’t it surge? In my opinion, Microsoft can’t seem to get out of it’s own way. The various business units like SQL Server, Sharepoint, and Exchange can’t seem to get their heads wrapped around how advantageous it could be if they embraced the Windows Core team and Hyper-V. I’m talking about more than just “works with”, more like “works better with”. At least, make Hyper-V the centerpiece of the go-to-market – the underlying “strata” for Microsoft-centric enterprises… And yet, they just don’t. I don’t get it.
- VMware will cooperate and compete furiously and simultaneously with Openstack. You can see this starting with things like Dynamic Ops (now vCloud Automation Center), Nicira, parts of vFabric, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see this expand even further. I wouldn’t be surprised to see VXLAN and other elements of the VMware networking stack get accelerated in the FOSS movement. Yet, of course VMware’s cash cow is the vCloud Suite – and yeah – that creates conflict.
- The New Converged Stack Battle Will be Waged…
- The battle of “yesterday” was “converged or mix and match?” (aka Vblock-style, mix and match style, or reference architecture style like VSPEX) I find myself arguing this less and less. people get that if they can, converged, hyper-standardized wins – at least in the long term and for green-field. Historically the main benefit of “mix and match” was price and vendor leverage – offset by complex operations. With virtualization “breaking the bonds” to physical infrastructure – you can get the flexbility and leverage without the badness of chaos in the infrastructure layer.
- The “New” battle of converged stacks is this one: “is a hyper-standardized, and integrated (from a technology and business standpoint) server/network/storage stack truly converged (think Vblock), or does convergence equate to hardware that performs all the functions together (think Nutanix or servers running vSAN)?”
- Personally I think this is a fool’s argument. The answer is really simple: it depends. One factor is scale (at very small scales – think like 4 nodes), tight coupling makes more sense. Another factor is scaling model (does your compute/storage scale exactly together, or do they scale very differently) – which is a function of workload. I don’t (again, one man’s opinion) feel like one model is the right one all the time. But this I **do** know – expect this argument to heat up in 2013.
- …while smarter people will realize “type of converged infrastructure” doesn’t matter, automation DOES.
- This idea of the importance of automation slowly “seeping into the IT zeitgeist” (some people have always known it). The reason that Vblock acts as accelerant to having a IaaS in your enterprise isn’t because it’s “cloud in a box”. It’s because it enables you to spend more time/resources on the stuff that really makes it a cloud – self-service, economic transparency, and a very, very high degree of automation.
- These skills are relatively rare. We’re trying to expand them within EMC – and it isn’t easy. This is the future of the vSpecialist mission as the “how EMC stuff works with VMware stuff” moves to a phase of being relatively widely understood within our SE community.
- “Software Defined” becomes tacked to everything under the sun…
- It’s really amazing how VMware and EMC are getting good at driving the buzzword bingo meters up and to the right. Cloud, Big Data – and now the Software Defined Datacenter.
- Is SDDC the new “Cloud” – no. Cloud = an operational model. SDDC = technologies that help cloud operational models work. Virtualization is one of those technologies.
- We will, however be arguing through 2013 over definitional models for SDDC like we did around “Cloud” (these definitional arguments feel like such a waste of time!) for a lot of this year. My “definitional” 2 cents for the grist mill: SDDC = policy controlled in software + decoupled from physical infrastructure + works across vendors. In some cases (but not by definition!) functions that used to be done in hardware are done in software.
- …While mattering only tangentially in networking, and getting started in storage (2014 will be the big “SD” year)
- The reality is that there are a tiny number of customers that are deploying (or are even a fit to deploy!) SDN as it stands right now. That’s A-OK. Those customers know who they are, they are large, and are very curious to hear what everyone is doing. Expect that to broaden out in the enterprise at large in 2014, IMO.
- There isn’t (as far as I can see) any example of Software Defined Storage (aka “SDS”) right now. Remember, if you agree with my definition above, we’re not just talking about “storage done as software” (there are lots of those). We’re talking about where storage policy (like “do I replicate this object?”) is decoupled from the hardware (i.e. not done via connecting to the array) – and would work across vendors. Expect everyone who makes storage functions as software to call themselves “SDS” in 2013. If you agree with my definitional straw-man, poke at it (including poking at EMC).
- Everyone will rush to build Hadoop projects and clusters and leverage HDFS…
- There’s no doubt that Big Data Analytics is big, and there’s no doubt that Hadoop has “won” (in any sense that really matters). Almost all customers I talked to at the beginning of the year said “Hadoo-wha?”. At the end of the year it was “yup, we’re all over it, and Jane over there is heading up the project”- i.e. a named person, named project. I don’t think that people know what they want to do yet – but want to learn, and are exploring, and that’s fun. Personally, that’s where I am. I’m setting up my Hadoop cluster over the holidays :-)
- … most will miss that the Data Scientist magic is more than just tech.
- The common pattern I’ve noticed amongst customer that seem to be way out ahead on this Big Data stuff is that there was someone NOT IN “IT” leading the charge. The person was connected enough to the business to understand their problems, but disconnected enough (and creative enough) to make a connection to opportunity that no one else seemed to be able to make. I think that this combo of creativity and technical skill is needed to be the “connector” that people need to make new business models work off their data – and intermixing data that isn’t theirs.
- What everyone has been saying – that PaaS is way more important than IaaS – will start to become evident.
- It’s amazing to me how much we as vendors, and IT buyers spend talking about infrastructure. Literally, it’s job is to work. It’s not as easy as it sounds – that I know. But when you think about the amount of time we spend on “look at this new cool trick” vs. “here’s something we did that is totally unsexy – it’s not a feature – but it makes it more likely to ‘work better’” – it’s enlightening. I think it’s a human instinct for “shiny new things”.
- In the end, it’s about the users. After that, it’s the business that serves the users. After that, it’s the apps that serve the business. Infrastructure is all the way at the bottom, serving the apps.
- In this hierarchy, it’s really darn clear. For packaged apps – if you’re not available as SaaS, you’re screwed. Then, it’s all about PaaS. For infrastructure – the closer you are to invisible, the better.
- It’s not a coincidence that the Pivotal Initiative got cooking quietly (and then publicly) in 2012 – this is a battle which will touch everyone. Partner with the developer – and you influence the future. If you don’t, you’re a commodity peddler – just don’t know it yet.
- The “change” pressure on certain business models will result in “crazy Ivan” maneuvers amongst hardware folks…
- This is related to the topic in #8 and #5. I can say that while storage will be the last thing to commoditize in infrastructure (for lots of reasons – data persistence, data inertia, risk being the big ones), it’s going to affect EMC over time. I think anyone with a “mature hardware-centric business” is going to be under pressure – over time being the operative words – and no one knows what that looks like.
- We’re well aware of that over here at EMC – if you look at what Pat Gelsinger said at EMC World 2012, he talked about all EMC’s products being “made as Virtual Appliances”. We’re able, willing (and notably – we have avenues) where our value (which is already mostly about software) gets refactored in all sorts of ways. We know if we don’t do it – others will.
- It’s inevitable that as people’s business models get under pressure – you see all sorts of things I call “crazy Ivans” (from the Hunt for Red October, where submarines from the USSR would jink back and forth to port and starboard randomly).
- This will show up as acquisitions, divestment, mergers, and more. I don’t think it will stop in 2013. All the more reason to partner with survivors, consolidators – but most importantly those that are also innovators, and able and willing to self-cannibalize.
- … While in software-land, Apple will fall off a cliff. Again. Oracle will stumble for the first time. Microsoft will come back to life. Everyone will realize it’s all about the user.
- This one is a little more risky as a prediction – take it for what it’s worth.
- I LOVE Apple, but I’m seeing a pattern of decisions that don’t seem customer-focused, and it’s OK to not be customer-focused if you’re brilliant, but it’s not OK to be just middle of the road and not customer focused. Examples to me: the iPad is stagnating. Surface is actually pretty interesting. The Maps fiasco. Quality of IOS is all over the map. OSX is starting to get patched the way I associate with Microsoft of lore. I DO NOT subscribe to the “Steve is gone, they are doomed” angle. I DO subscribe to the “be awesome, be customer centric” angle, and I’m not sure whether they have that mojo. I hope I’m wrong on this one.
- Oracle is a funky one. While clearly parts of their hardware business are growing fast (Exa-everything), I think people haven’t groked just what a crazy business their core database business is. Every customer HATES forking over the licensing dollars – and for perspective, at most customers the Oracle DB and Apps are the most expensive part of their entire IT budget. Yet, when you dig into it – the customers aren’t even in love the apps, and frankly don’t use the database much more than they could do with Postgress for crying out loud (not to mention SQL Server 2012). If you’re starting a company, you don’t use Oracle. If you’re about data and apps and are leaving school – you are all pumped about Cassandra, memcached, KV stores and more. I’m sure that Oracle is all over this – but it’s not about whether they are aware and have smart people (they do), but their willingness to cannabalize their cash cow and transform. I just don’t see that from them. The same arguments can be made about EMC, but I see us much more willing to duck, dodge, dive, duck and dodge… Change and cannibalize as needed… Dodgeball is more than just fun, it’s a way of life :-)
- I see stirrings in Microsoft land. Not in the enterprise (aka see my earlier point about Exchange/SQL Server/Sharepoint/Hyper-V in #1) – but in the consumer space. Yeah, their early music attempts were laughable (anyone remember Zune?). Yup – they are missing a vehicle for the mobile space (guys, Nokia has issues). BUT – if they accept the degree of change that is on them (and this rate of change is on all of us) and are willing to consider BIG moves (crazy Ivans) like saying “screw it, we’ll be a hardware/software company” like they have with XBOX and Surface… Well, don’t underestimate the innovation that comes out of Redmond. Plus, there’s nothing like being an underdog to start to amp up creative juices. Note the pattern here… If you screw with your customers and end-users at your peril. In the immortal words of Abraham Lincoln: “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.”
On the webcast, I also discussed “my top job predictions for 2013”. 2012 was a year of learning for me. Every time you start a new job, by definition, you are doing something you haven’t done before. Case in point: I haven’t led an organization of ~3000 people before. It’s a great new perspective. I’ve been exposed to the power of “team” at “scale”. Sounds hokey – but it’s a fact. I’ve been exposed more than ever before to skills we need more of, some we need less of. I’ve never been more aware of the traits that make people just “explode” (in a good way) in their career.
Look, the obvious way would be to rattle off the skills I think we’ll need more of in 2013 – here’s my list.
- Cloud Architect
- Digitally Literate Leadership
- Customer Facing + Technologist
- Automation (far too few people that can roll up their sleeves and REALLY automate at scale)
- Data Science
That said – in my experience and as many wise people have also told me – it’s more about “traits” than it is about “skills”. Here’s how I tend to look at it… Less about skills, more about traits:
- Sheer individual brainpower.
- Who will create the next innovation?
- Who can imagine ideas that others simply facepalm themselves about afterwards?
- The first phase of a new thing is a phase of innovation that just doesn’t “scale up”, it’s literally better with a tiny number of very creative, very smart people.
- Connecting with others.
- The power of one is incredible – to get things started.
- The power of a network of brains is exponential – and is the way things get big fast.
- Can one be creative and a connector and communicator? I don’t know. It’s really rare to see them bundled in a single body. Often – you get great power by leveraging these two personality types together.
- People that revel in detail.
- Making things happen requires a love for detail.
- I hate “Strategic” vs. “Tactics” arguments. You need both.
- Execution matters more than the best idea.
Able to dream big.
- It is a super-power to have both (detail focus, dreamer) of these gears in your gearbox (and shift – no one does both at the same time).
- It is possible to love them both equally in different ways.
- If you don’t dream big – you always will fall shy of what COULD be possible.
- Able to juggle many things at once.
- The most important skill today and tomorrow is adaptability.
- Learning, acting, coordinating, collaborating, and getting it done all the the same time.
- Internally, I call this “getting it done in an ‘EMC Day’” :-)
- Balancing it (or better stated, perpetually shifting balance) with family is critical – but man, that’s hard.
- Making it look like a tango, not a silted waltz.
- There are no footsteps marked out when you are blazing a trail.
- The trick is being light on your feet, and loving, thriving, getting energized by the chaos…
- …while making it look good and holding a rose in your mouth :-)
- We are all emotional creatures.
- Passion moves us. Passion inspires us.
- Everything else in the list above – passion = nothing.
- Everything else in the list above + passion = a lever big enough to move the world.
Again, it may sound hokey – but I actually believe the above. People who are a blend of the above (and no one is perfect at everything – most great people I have the good fortune of interacting with are a mix of the above – sometimes morphing right in front of your eyes) literally write their own future. More than that – they write all our futures – because they are changing the world with every little thing they do… And, when you see them doing it in front of your eyes – it’s just amazing and inspiring to watch!
What do YOU think will be the big trends, the big skills, the big human traits we’ll see as critical in 2013?