By Greg Schumacher
Director, Product Management and Marketing
As Arrow focuses on the pursuit of a Five Years Out strategy, the market has evolved with new ways to innovate and new innovations that have never been conceived of before in the history of technology. With IBM’s three-year movement from descriptive analytics, to prescriptive analytics last year, and cognitive analytics today, I can now clearly see SkyNet right around the corner with Watson at the helm.
Seriously though, the rate of innovation is dramatically escalating and has evolved into areas of growth that impact us all.
I recently attended IDC’s Directions 2016 conference in San Jose and came away feeling even better about Arrow’s strategy for growth than I had when I went in. Their focus on software defined solutions, growth in Cloud/hybrid Cloud environments, and the impacts of the Internet of Things centered the conference (and also paralleled Arrow’s focus). Let me recap each of those positions and how they impact the changing landscape of innovation.
Software Defined Infrastructure
Al Gillen, GVP, Enterprise Infrastructure at IDC, states that today’s focus is on “software defined infrastructure in a composable world.” His contention is that the current infrastructure of compute, networking, and storage will remain the underpinning for next generation growth. However, the compute hardware becomes disaggregated into locations outside of the traditional data center, and the physical and virtual systems are managed by software. Software defined network solutions decouple the control plane from the data plane and let software manage the complexity of the underlying physical network. Thus storage is viewed as “just a bunch of disks,” where data placement and access are managed by software across multiple tenants and mobility uses.
Software will now allow us to “compose” a server with all of its connections and ensure access to the stored data it needs to process regardless of where the components reside. Pieces can be in a traditional data center but can also be in colocation facilities, at managed service locations, or in the Cloud; but it will be managed by a “software defined” center point that can help us do what we want, when we need it.
As a leader in Converged Infrastructure, hyper converged computing, and software management, Arrow is well positioned to support IDC’s projections that software defined compute penetration will grow from 18% of servers in 2015 to 27% of servers by 2019.
Essentially, SDI will prove its value to our partners and their customers as it demonstrates that utilization rates can soar on current and future hardware, that capacity and consumption can be balanced and justified, and that capacity on demand is a viable approach. This new infrastructure will operate more like a public Cloud environment, support classic and Third Platform applications, and offer better security than containers alone. Although it won’t be for everybody, it will work for most enterprises, while small- and mid-sized companies may just use the Cloud instead and be just fine.
Cloud and Hybrid Cloud Environments
“It’s all about scale,” says Frank Gens, IDC’s Chief Analyst. On one hand, IDC points out that traditional server, storage and networking sales will decline through 2020 at a CAGR of -5.1%, while, on the other hand, Third Platform products like converged and integrated systems, hyper-converged systems, and wireless networking with associated switches and sensors will boom at a CAGR of 12.7%. Add to this the 50 billion plus new devices associated with IoT (forecast by 2020), and the need to turn data into actionable information parlays into increased requirements for hardware and software, just located in “composable” data centers. Fortunately the combination offers great opportunity for both Arrow and its partners.
Remember that Cloud and hybrid Cloud environments will offer a diversified portfolio of Cloud services that companies depend upon; therefore, they will need to manage a range of assets in multiple internal and third-party data centers, and they will implement a hybrid IT operations model with internal and services providers’ staff, because the market will be hybrid.
As the intelligent fabric of business grows, the demand for customer intimacy also increases. Uses of cognitive computing (IBM’s central theme but not mentioned as such by IDC) and artificial intelligence will pull together IBM Watson’s deep learning (healthcare with Medtronics) with neural automation (competitive chess) and machine intelligence (like the automated sensing Arrow built into the “SAM” car) to solve customer demands of continuous sensing and collective learning. All of this provides what people want and shows where they are ‒ all of the time! Scale like this has never been done before in a hybrid environment.
Impacts of the Internet of Things
From a presentation at the conference given by IDC’s Pam Miller, Director of Partnering Research, it was obvious that IoT is about much more than the technologies. We see multitudes of new sensors, accumulators, devices and solutions appearing on the market every day. If the 50+ billion number of devices is relatively close to what will be added to our IT system by 2020, there will be new expectations of Arrow and our partners to locate ourselves at the center of sellable value.
Industry Cloud platforms will provide and utilize open connectivity with thousands of Digital Everything (DX) developers. They will be creating the applications that reach and feed tens or hundreds of thousands of end-customers requiring secure information instantaneously. Customer intimacy on-demand is created by billions of connected devices, and all are analyzed, interpreted and re-sold by countless software apps in an open system.
Cognitive analytics leads us to a wider range of opportunities than hardware ever could, but it also demands that our partners do more. The skill set Arrow must enable will face changing IT requirements that increasingly drive demand, a need for vertical market expertise, and the ability to build services business on recurring revenue models.
The Internet of Things demands a new type of partner ‒ one with skills in areas far beyond today’s hardware and software sales and installation skills. If the Cloud market is setting the tone today, the future will demand expertise in big data and analytics combined with hybrid Cloud skills and vertical expertise.
At Arrow, it requires a working relationship between ECS, OEM Computing Solutions, and Components (already happening) along with integration (doing it in Phoenix) and Systems Integrator skills (Arrow SI) to deliver DX type products and services. It also requires that we “enable” our partners with the new skills we are developing through educational services and a tighter developer relationship. Remember, we are an engineering company and already working on what is needed five years out. Our challenge is to now turn these strategies into a consumable innovative platform for both transformative and new partners.
Thinking Five Years Out has us ready for tomorrow! If you want more information about innovative strategies, contact your Arrow sales representative.