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On Geography, Cloud, and Data Governance

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We’re seeing a significant shift in the Platform as a Service and Infrastructure as a Service markets as the cloud becomes a global phenomenon, with enterprise adoption and regulatory pressures driving the need for better data governance and control. Cloud providers can no longer simply tell customers not to worry about where their data is held.

On the consumer side for example, Germany in March instituted an antitrust probe of Facebook based on data protection questions.

The EU safe harbour agreement was declared invalid in October 2015 and is being strengthened (it’s a shield now, apparently), increasing obligations on US companies handling European data. Geopolitics isn’t becoming any more forgiving. European companies and governments are looking for more far more confidence about where and how data is held.

In May Microsoft trumpeted that it had passed the new Spanish national security framework. The company is even building its own undersea cabling network, MAREA, from the US to Bilbao, neatly bypassing joint US/UK national security infrastructure points of access.

Amazon Web Services has long allowed for logical partitioning in the shape of Virtual Private Cloud, but it now also multi-region choices for data hosting – it’s data center in Frankfurt has been a notable success.

Heroku, which is an AWS shop, is now taking advantage of Amazon functionality to offer it’s own geo-secure services. The subsidiary recently asked me to contribute a quote to a white paper on security:

Today it’s not enough to simply offer hosting or black box PaaS. Developers need services that allow them to deploy private networks in the public cloud, making geographical choices about where to host data. Public cloud wins on convenience, but the market has made it very clear that data location and governance are not optional extras. Heroku is now addressing these security and compliance requirements across its portfolio, building on its heritage
of simplicity and convenience.

Security is hard, and needs to be baked in, rather than bolted on. Heroku and other cloud service providers are responding to market needs and upping their game in this area.

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HPE breaking up to get lean

Breakin’ Up is Hard To Do, sang Neil Sedaka.

It seems nobody told HPE.

The company is clearly energised by its divestment strategy. Having already announced it would split into two businesses last year – HP Enterprise (servers, storage, services, systems) and HP, Inc (PCs and printers), HPE then recently surprised the market by announcing it was going to acquire CSC and spin out a newco combining the enterprise services assets of both companies.

The services roll up makes a great deal of sense – spinning out a “bad bank” of technical debt locked into long term outsourcing contracts. Markets certainly reacted favourably on the news.


To be fair to CSC it has done some good work in building out hybrid cloud offerings for its customers over the last few years, but the general direction of travel for traditional outsourcing is definitely a downswing. You could of course say the same thing for almost all enterprise IT businesses.

So to divest or not to divest? On that question Dell and HPE are moving in opposing directions. As Dell bulks up, taking on debt to acquire EMC and VMware/Pivotal, HP gets leaner.

I spent last week at HPE Discover, the company’s customer event in Las Vegas. Customers were pretty much unphased by the potential disruption caused by multiple demergers, and executives are seemingly revelling in it. Bottom line- nobody has anywhere to hide any more. Businesses are not going to cross subsidise each other and paper over cracks and faults in the the business.

HPE is now comprised of Software, Enterprise Systems and Financial Services (financing for customers). It would not be a surprise to see HP also spin out the financing business. Borrowing money to fund infrastructure acquisitions is of course not really how things are done in the age of the cloud. Make no mistake – Cloud is a forcing factor for pretty much all of the issues facing incumbent enterprise suppliers today. Cloud is putting pressure on all enterprise software markets – applications, hardware, networking, security, services, software, storage etc.

HPE’s response is to try and become more nimble, and focus in the near term on hardware and software:

  • HPE Software Group products fall into 4 main areas, ALM, IT Operations, Analytics and Security.
  • HPE Enterprise Group – Integrated Systems, Servers, Storage and Networking.

One response to the threat of cloud decimating on-premise IT workloads is to try and reframe the issue. So while it makes little or no sense for enterprises to run their own traditional data centres there are going to be areas where processing will move to the edge. Consider for example that a Boeing Dreamliner has a 42u rack server on board. Or in automotive cars are increasingly digital- the server in the boot. The idea behind the reframing is that rather than instantly push all data into the cloud as it is collected, which would require perfect, high performance cheap networking, it should be partially filtered and analysed “at the edge”. Data gravity is after all a thing. To support its edge story HPE last week pointed to a set of products originally announced in London in December called the Edgeline IoT Systems 10 and 20, running Microsoft Azure IoT Suite and Windows 10 – including ruggedised versions. HP has a partnership with GE around Edgeline, which is a decent start in building an ecosystem. Interestingly, HP also sees a potential role as an OEM, as its customers and partners roll their own edge offerings.

What if edge is the new on prem? HP isn’t the only pursuing this story. Also last week IBM and Cisco announced a new set of “edge” offerings to run IBM’s Watson for IoT software on Cisco network gear.

One argument in favour of the edge argument could be the rise of the smartphone. The internet didn’t kill native operating systems, it enabled them. We don’t run around using pure web apps on thin phones; rather the phones get thicker and slicker all the time. The internet created entirely new form factors for edge computing. The internet of things could repeat the trick.

But what about software and how we live now?

I presented at two customer sessions on Monday about how software development and management is changing. The cloud native companies have retaught us that engineering for scale requires trade-offs around consistency, availability and partition tolerance. Testing is part of the development process. Requirements can’t be fully known. Waterfall doesn’t allow for anything like continuous improvement. HP’s customers are very receptive to learning from web company methods and tools.

HP is retooling accordingly, and its customers are also beginning to. In both sessions, one for Quality Center customers, and one for LoadRunner and StormRunner (Performance Engineering), when I asked who was using Jenkins literally every customer in the room put their hands up. For more context you should also check out this post from my colleague Fintan CI: The Cloud Native On Ramp and The Dominance of Jenkins.

The company has got the memo around packaging (open source) – HPE ALM Octane embraces GIT, Jenkins, even Cucumber for specifications/requirements collaboration.

“Our perspective is no longer to replace functionality already available in the open source market”

Instead HPE is focusing on tagging and search, relationships, pipeline support and open APIs.

HPE is taking the same tack with public cloud (rather than looking to replace functionality already available there) it is trying to move up the stack, positioning Helion as a hybrid environment for running apps on prem on or in the public cloud. HPE is packaging up OpenStack and CloudFoundry for infrastructure and platform as a service, having acquired Stackato from ActiveState. The approach is not heavily differentiated, but it is standard – IBM and SAP are on similar tacks, and HPE can also sell into customers adopting Pivotal as a hedge.

In conclusion, HPE still has a ton of work to do to be a growth company going forward. RedMonk would argue the company needs a stronger more opinionated SaaS story. It’s one thing for customers to say they aren’t ready to be all in on cloud, but the consumability advantages of cloud delivery are inarguable. HP’s Haven On Demand machine learning APIs show the way here – easy to ease, well documented, lowering barriers to entry, consumable by developers – in terms of delivering the portfolio as HPE rebuilds it SaaS is easier than on prem, and customers are happy to pay for it; software licenses not so much at this point in time. On prem hardware is not a great market to be in, but it’s still worth tens of billions of dollars – HP, Cisco and Dell have a huge fight ahead.

HPE is getting lean for it, rather than bulking up.

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Mi3M episode 4 making significant progress. airports and web scale renewables

Last week a few things caught my eye in the world of renewable energy – we’re making so much rapid progress in that respect there is real cause of optimism. An Indian airport running 100% on solar, Portugal making all the running as a global post Carbon leader, and new commitments from Microsoft to renewable energy.

On the other hand I was waxing on this stuff back in 2009, so progress is slower than needed.

It seems to that we’re facing an economy of scale problem here- and frankly if Goog and M$ didn’t know energy was an issue they wouldn’t be building on rivers, and investing in wind farms

Economies of scale come with a direct measurable cost – Apple’s data investment in Ireland, is projected to potentially increase the country’s energy consumption by 8%. It will be up Ireland to work with Apple to ensure investments in renewable energy to support the country’s new requirements.

Meanwhile on the minus side – it’s too damn hot. Last Friday India recorded its hottest temperature ever.

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MOAR VIDEO: on moving Swiftlang forward and wearables, with explosions, charts and GIFs

In case you hadn’t noticed we’ve been stepping up our velocity of video production and packaging at RedMonk lately.

It turns out you can really have fun when you start using a green screen. We hit a new high point in production values and story telling with my last video about Swift lang – including charts, third party tweets, and an appearance from Taylor Swift.


It’s a pretty good show. But we just topped it, at least in timing and comedy with this take on Wearables, Nearables and Hearables – where I riff on building headless context-driven apps.

We’ve also developed a bit of a line in animated GIFs.









And some real time trolling

The Opinionated Infrastructure series is sponsored by IBM, and I give full production credit to Benny Crime and his brother Jack Heatseek.

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I’m Satoshi


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Monkchips in 3 Minutes Episode 2: Panama Papers, Gorilla, Financials.

The new format.

In which I talk about how The Panama Papers site, which is a great piece of work. You’ve read the news story, now check out the actual source material, which is powered by Neo4j.

I also talk about the morning paper by Adrian Colyer, in particular his take a scientific paper on Facebook’s absurd scale time series database Gorilla – it stores one trillion events per day in memory, as an in memory cache for Facebook’s logs for troubleshooting, then archived in HBase. Gorilla is optimised for writes and high availability.

Then filthy lucre – recent financial news from Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google. Today the 4 Comma club is about trillions of events. One of these cloud companies however is going to be valued at over a trillion dollars at some point, possibly soon.

Anyway – hope you like Mi3M. Let me know what you think, and please do subscribe on Youtube.


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Dockerize vs Containerize. All the things.


Of course Google Trends search volume comparisons are not exactly scientific, but they can be interesting and create useful data points. Thus is it with this search, showing how the containers conversation today is all about Docker.

Back in 2005 Solaris Zones was getting a fair bit of interest and containerize was performing in terms of Google Search volume. Has Solaris Turned the Corner? – nope, it never did. But the core technology idea was certainly relevant, which explains why and how Joyent and in particular Bryan Cantrill have become everpresents on the Docker conference scene – they’ve been doing containers since before they were a thing.

But Docker is at this point the name that really matters in containers – see The Docker Pattern. It’s the environment in which people are competing.

Docker is a client.

Feel free to point all the different searches I should have done. Like I say, present imperfect.

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Financials, Cloud, Catchup: It’s Monkchips in 3 minutes!

So we thought we’d try a new video youtube format, something snappy, hopefully informative and easy to watch. It’s called Monkchips in 3 minutes – which is kind of self-explanatory. We’ve been doing a lot of fun stuff in video, trying to more accessible and well packaged. this is part of that.

This week’s episode is about the recent run of financial results from the enterprise software vendors, and that was before Apple turned in some disappointing numbers this week too. My premise – the cloud isn’t just hurting sales of compute and storage any more, it’s an across the board phenomenon which is making life harder for companies with broad portfolios as much as narrow ones. Cloud’s even hurting outsourcing. Check out the show!

Regarding news of our new hire Stephen wrote up a a welcome post I am sure Rachel Stephens will make the role her own.

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7 Things I learned at Microsoft BUILD 2016

Microsoft Build Image for facebook

  1. I don’t care about Microsoft Ink.
  2. The Ubuntu support is lit. In the keynote Microsoft only talked about bash shell, but basically Windows 10 now supports apt-get, so the Ubuntu userspace is right there. Node.js devs in particular were all excited about the news.
  3. I changed my mind about Microsoft Graph after a great talk by Qi Lu, EVP, Applications and Services Group. The graph of ActiveDirectory, Exchange, Outlook, and Skype apps is an incredible, rich sticky asset, and Microsoft’s REST, JSON, WebSockets API direction makes all the sense. One end point to rule them all, indeed.
  4. Tie that into bot frameworks with some machine learning and Cortana for voice and stuff’s going to get unreal.
  5. Hololens is incredible. Tell me a specific time and then make me wait in line for 30 minutes? Grumpchips. One hour later and I was a kid full of joy and wonder. So immerse. So wow.
  6. Microsoft’s IoT play is all about B2B scenarios. I know right – where the money is.
  7. Xamarin – was like open source, nah let’s not do that anymore, then Microsoft acquired them and it’s all like MIT licensed. And now it’s free. More Test Cloud for more Azure. CI for mobile.

Obviously this is not the most extensive write up ever. But I wanted to get a placeholder down, so here it is. The good far outweighed the bad.

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On Google’s Cloud Posture. GCP Next 2016.

A couple of weeks ago I was in SF at Google Cloud Platform Next 2016, an event designed to show Google is serious about competing in the public cloud market against Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and IBM SoftLayer. The market and even some Googlers have been questioning the firm’s commitment to cloud as a line of business, so the company felt it needed to make a strong statement. Google duly totally over-rotated on personnel-as-proxy-of-seriousness on day one by having not just new cloud lead Diane Green, but also Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, and then for good measure Eric Schmidt, Chairman of Alphabet all keynote. The session duly considerably overran. Never good on conference chairs. Maybe better to have just Diane next year.

I actually missed the day one keynote, which may be one reason I came away with a different overall impression from many commentators, who were seemingly underwhelmed.

The Day Two keynote was serious, committed, intelligent and challenging. The structure followed a nice pattern from high level, to low level details.

Google made the clearest commitment so far by any public company, let alone major cloud vendor, to renewable energy, of which more later. But TLDR Thanks Google, I have 3 children, and if Google scale is carbon positive that’s good news for every living thing on the planet, including my little ones.

Google’s Neils Provos then went deep on its layered approach to information security, an impressive framework should pressure competitors to up their game. Google security provides an excellent set of approaches for delivering on  security in the Cloud era. The geopolitical/industrial scene isn’t getting any easier, and information governance in the cloud is going to be a defining issue of our time for governments and businesses. On the flight out to Next I read an article in the FT about military contractors moving into the enterprise security market. Frankly any enterprise that calls BAE or Raytheon before it looks to Google about how to better secure information assets in the Cloud era is doing it wrong.

The final talk by Eric Brewer – he of the ubiquitous CAP theorem that drives so much modern distributed systems design –  made it abundantly clear that Kubernetes is not just window dressing to Google’s own internal Borg architecture, but rather represents a pretty fundamental change in Google’s cloud posture – the company is finally learning to play nicely with other children, although it still has plenty of work to do in that regard. Google now leads a project that is crushing it on Github, with outside contributors, and it feels good about that. See this post from Fintan for more. It wants to build a successful ecosystem. But doing so takes time, commitment, attentiveness, listening and a degree of humbleness (this last one doesn’t come easily to Google).

There is no company more Cloud Native than Google. The company literally invented this stuff. Defining Cloud Native Brewer pointed to development that expects cloud resources to just be available, “an infinite number of machines”; other characteristics include containers for packaging and isolation, with a micro-services orientation.

But the question remains – can Google package up its experiences and platforms in ways that makes them easily consumable by enterprises and startups? The best packager in any tech wave wins.

It was particularly noteworthy therefore to see Google’s positioning of Kubernetes with respect to Docker during Brewer’s talk. Containers is nothing new, Google was making open source contributions as far back as 2006, in the shape of cggrounds. But Google’s tooling was designed by the best engineers on the planet for the best engineers on the planet. It works but it’s very far from being easy to use.

“Docker came along and did a better job of the packaging, it does a nice job of how you handle libraries”

Which sort of sounds like faint praise but isn’t. Docker utterly killed it with making containers a first class citizen for software development, and Google knows it. More than many other competitive vectors Google is chastened by Docker. Google wants to make sure that it benefits from The Docker Pattern as much as, if not more so, than Docker does.

That said, Google made it very clear that while it sees Docker as moving the state of the art forward with containers for development, it believes it can do a better job managing containers in production with Kubernetes. Google plans to niche Docker. The contrast was ironically enough heightened during the keynote, when Docker dropped its new Mac and PC clients, making containers even easier to use on the desktop.

Bottom line is Google wants to win those Docker workloads, but needs an ecosystem to do so. A recent Docker survey shows Amazon EC2 Container Service is already a natural target for these workloads.


While Amazon has dominated the first couple of rounds of the Cloud wars, this is going to be a long game. Enterprise workloads have only migrated to the cloud at the edges. Core transaction systems remain on prem. On that note Ron Harnick of Scalr said Next wasn’t boring enough

Where’s the bank that runs mission critical operations on GCP? Where’s the retailer that can run transactions faster on GCE than on EC2?

It’s the infrastructure, stupid. I mentioned above that many commentators were unmoved by the event. Of those I thought this post – Google’s Scalability Day – by professional curmudgeon Charles Fitzgerald was great. As so often lessons from history are particularly valuable:

In May 1997, Microsoft held a big press event dubbed Scalability Day. Microsoft was a relatively new arrival to enterprise computing and was beset by criticism it wasn’t “enterprise ready”. The goal of the event was to once and for all refute those criticisms and get the industry to accept that Microsoft would be a major factor in the enterprise (because, of course, that was what the company wanted…).

Microsoft at the time was an extremely engineering-centric company, so it processed all the criticisms through a technical lens. Soft, cultural, customer, and go-to-market issues were discarded as they did not readily compute and the broader case against Microsoft’s enterprise maturity was distilled down to the concrete and measurable issue of scalability. The company assumed some benchmarks plus updated product roadmaps would clear up any remaining “misunderstandings” about Microsoft and the enterprise.

The event was a disaster and served to underscore that all the criticism was true. It was a technical response to non-technical issues and showed that the company didn’t even know what it didn’t know about serving enterprise customers. Internally, the event served as a painful wake-up call that helped the company realize that going after the enterprise was going to be a long slog and would require lots of hard and not very exciting work. It took over a decade of very concentrated focus and investment for Microsoft to really become a credible provider to the enterprise. Enterprise credibility is not a feature set that gets delivered in a single release, but is acquired over a long time through the experience and trust built up working with customers.

I couldn’t help but think about Scalability Day while watching Google’s #GCPNext event today. After telling us for months that this event would demonstrate a step function in their ability to compete for the enterprise, it was a technology fest oblivious to the elephant in the room: does Google have any interest in or actual focus on addressing all the boring and non-product issues required to level up and serve enterprise customers?

As is their norm, Google showed amazing technology and highlighted their unrivalled infrastructure. And they have as much as admitted they’ve been living in an Ivory Tower since Google Compute Platform was announced in 2012 and “need to talk to customers more often”. Recognizing you have a problem is always the first step, but beyond throwing the word “enterprise” and related platitudes around, they did little to convince us they are committed to travelling the long and painful road to really serving enterprise customers.

So much all of this. Google doesn’t need to change its engineering. It needs to change its posture. It needs to be open and be seen to be so. It needs to give itself permission to come across as more human. Enterprises want to work with people that are like them.

The Cloud posture isn’t collegiate enough yet, although it is of course somewhat academic. Google is about the New Applied Science.

I think one obvious solution to a perceived arrogance issue is to focus more on partners. It was noticeable that Google didn’t feature partners on the main stage at least not on day two. It could have gained some kudos for example by featuring Red Hat talking about Kubernetes. We have seen a marked change at Google over the last few quarters, partly driven by infusions of new blood, but also in Google’s experiences working with outside firms – notably Red Hat. This didn’t come across quite as strongly at Next as it should have done.

But the narrative is there, waiting to be packaged. Over the next couple of years we will see Next become more about the ecosystem and less about the platform.

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