As a long time mainframe (and mini-computer) person, when the new converged systems hit the market, I felt it was throw back Thursday. Stop the presses, the open systems have gone amuck, we systems that do not require integration, testing and lots of people with lots of different skills to manage.
While we have not published a comparison matrix of the market offerings, we do track the technology and impact. Here is our take based on the last couple of years of interviews with end user clients:
It is for real, but will not take over the world. We see and will continue to see a strong presence in the mid-market, because it makes sense given IT personnel are already cross training and strapped for resources. The enterprise will continue to buy converged systems for rapid deployment situations, where staging and provisioning the traditional way will not meet the demands of the business. Some IT organizations will completely convert over to converged and revamp their entire organization. This will mostly likely be led by a new CIO charged with major changes, someone who is looking for new approaches in light of market pressures.
Orchestration software becomes king. How the technologies interact within the software dictates the ability for IT to re-organize its resources. Does it eliminate or shorten the cycle for mundane tasks such as provisioning and tuning? Does it eliminate some of the pesky testing to apply fixes and upgrades? Can an IT admin manage server, network and storage simply and with confidence? Is the support smooth and more effective with one vendor holding all the responsibilities? These are real economic values and can change an organization. But be aware, once the conversion and skills have changed, then the ability to back out is difficult.
We expect decisions to hit a bump and perhaps unravel around the 3rd to 5th year of adoption. In the past servers, storage and networking did not cycle together. Networks have a 7 year life, storage 3 to 5 years and servers 2-3 years. Financing models, depreciation schedules and business requirements will be need to be coordinated with the technical needs. This is business as usual when purchasing mainframes or large tape environments, but not in open systems. How converged systems are negotiated at the onset, can have a big impact on the total cost of ownership.
Inherently, converged systems mean vendor lock in. One of the promises of open systems is cost savings. IT could negotiate the pieces and get a better total price. With converged, the negotiation is between complete systems vendors e.g. IBM PureSystem, HDS UCP-Pro, HP ConvergedSystem or VCE V-Block, at the point of initial purchase. Granted it may be no different than negotiating a 3-year contract award. Nor, it may not be all bad especially if you are able to take out the costs in other areas or re-assign.
All in all, I am in favor of the converged systems. They make business sense, but only if the technical and business considerations are addressed up front.
Other commentary on converged: