Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Cloud Insight: HP, Dell, 3PAR, VMWare & ScaleDB

The bidding war between HP and Dell for 3PAR has created great theater. The rationale is simple, both HP and Dell want a complete set of products to sell into the new cloud space and 3PAR is the only bitsized morsel among EMC, IBM and Hitachi that addresses this space. What is the compelling advantage they offer in storage? Elasticity. 3PAR provides the ability for companies to add/remove storage in thin slices (AKA thin provisioning). How does this relate to ScaleDB? We do the exact same thing for databases in the cloud and we do it for the most popular database in the cloud, MySQL.

How does VMWare play into this? Their CEO Paul Maritz was on CNBC talking about the hybrid cloud and how companies want to run core cloud capabilities on premise and then use the public cloud providers to handle compute overflow during peak usage. This means that public cloud value to corporations, assuming Maritz is correct, is based largely on their ability to provide elasticity. It will no longer be sufficient for public cloud companies to provide reserved servers, because the reserved servers will be run in the company’s data center. The public cloud will add/remove servers to handle peaks in usage. So elasticity is EVERYTHING. ScaleDB is all about elasticity for the database.

It is also interesting to note from the Maritz interview that he sees the next wave of cloud (and hence the next wave of cloud consolidation) coming from the software sector. More specifically, the ability to take existing applications and make them run on the cloud. In other words, to make them elastic. Again, this is exactly what ScaleDB does. We take existing MySQL applications and make them elastic.

It is also interesting to note that HP and Dell have decimated their own R&D and are now looking to acquire that expertise from outside, and they are willing to pay for the expertise.

Another theme playing out in the background makes this situation even more interesting. Oracle has adopted a systems approach, where they combine their hardware and software:

“The heart of the interview focused on Oracle's interest in Sun. By combining Sun's expertise in hardware with Oracle's software, Ellison suggested, the combined company can become a powerful "systems" company that sells solutions to businesses. The competitor that Ellison wants to beat: IBM.”

Summary: Cloud is the next battle ground. It all starts with the hardware/infrastructure (e.g. 3PAR) and then moves upstream to software. Oracle will be focused on selling complete systems, alienating HP & Dell, among others. This is compounded by the fact that HP and Dell have decimated their R&D, so they are forced to partner/acquire. At the same time, if Maritz’s vision of public clouds becoming effectively excess capacity for handling peaks from corporations is realized, then elasticity in the cloud will become critical as well. This obviously plays to ScaleDB’s strengths.


  1. What do you think of companies who take a market leader position vs. following the leader? Microsoft and Dell used to do this but will they become the followers?

  2. As a general rule, fast follow is difficult in consumer markets and more so in consumer internet markets, since leaders can build a defensible brand more easily/rapidly than larger competitors can expand their brand. However, in the enterprise data center, credibility and channel are much more valuable than innovation. So, established enterprise tech companies can snap-up promising new technologies and run them through their channel, making such acquisitions accretive. Cisco is the poster child for this sort of Pacman strategy, and it has served them well.