Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Inside the numbers … when being #1 matters!

There are many instances where being number one is important; combinations of platforms, technologies and databases is continuing to propel NonStop X to the top of the list when it comes to systems anchoring modern data centers.

The faint hint of smoke rising from the outside kitchen is a clue that there’s something on the grill, as for the past couple of weeks the weather has simply been too good to stay indoors. The greater Denver area, including Boulder, boasts of being #1 when it comes to sunny days with 300 days of sun per year. Numbers have been very much on my mind this past week and it wasn’t simply because I had been counting sunny days or even because I had passed another blogging milestone with my last post to this blog.

I’m not sure what the count is up to, but with the most recent event that took place this month in Sydney, Australia, in support of the OzTUG community and with another next month to be put on by the folks at VNUG at Rånäs Slott, just outside Stockholm, Sweden, there have been a lot of NonStop user events this year even as the planet appears to be well-covered by NonStop enthusiasts. There really shouldn’t be any reason to miss any gathering of the NonStop community that takes place near to you but unfortunately for me, even though I am well-supported by my clients, the numbers are just too great to be able to say that I will make them all!

It was numbers of a different kind that caught my attention this week. It was ETI-Net’s CEO, Andy Hall, who first drew my attention to a news item I had missed concerning SGIs acceptance of HPE’s purchase offer for the company. According to the August 11, 2016, news release from SGI,
Hewlett Packard Enterprise to Acquire SGI to Extend Leadership in High Growth Big Data Analytics and High Performance Computing, the deal looks to be done but a look at the numbers has led to questions being asked. This isn’t the SGI we once all knew, the one that for a time dominated the landscape of Silicon Valley. That SGI went bust quite a while ago, but somehow assets (including the name) were acquired by Rackable Systems who promptly rebranded themselves as SGI.

Back to the numbers! According to SGI’s news release, it has “approximately 1,100 employees worldwide, and had revenues of $533 million in fiscal 2016.” And yet, HPE’s successful offer was only “for $7.75 per share in cash, a transaction valued at approximately $275 million, net of cash and debt.” It should come as no surprise that questions were being asked and lots of comments were being made as soon as the news of the acquisition was made public.  Opinions ranged from talk that HPE didn’t really have a big data strategy to perhaps HPE not having the best solution in SuperDome X to match the servers SGI was now selling – particularly when it comes to the all-important SAP HANA customers – to perhaps it being a preemptive strike to take SGI out of possible acquisition contention from other vendors, most notably Dell and Cisco. Both Dell and Cisco have been reselling SGI servers with considerable success. 

Again, from the news release, “‘At HPE, we are focused on empowering data-driven organizations,’ said Antonio Neri, executive vice president and general manager, Enterprise Group, Hewlett Packard Enterprise. ‘SGI's innovative technologies and services, including its best-in-class big data analytics and high performance computing solutions, complement HPE's proven data center solutions designed to create business insight and accelerate time to value for customers.’” On one hand, you have to say, did HPE then get the deal of the century or what?

Approximately $275 million, net of cash and debt will buy you a leading edge contender for best hardware offering in support of big data and its resultant actionable insight! And with it, the potential to grab a big chunk of the SAP HANA market!  When you think of the numbers that have been thrown around previously for acquisitions by HPE, for a major vendor generating tens of billions of dollars in annual revenue this just has to be the steal of the decade!

On the other hand, has the media forgotten that HPE has enjoyed a partnership with SGI for some time so in a sense, taking the next step and purchasing SGI may have been more of a no-brainer than at first thought. According to a February 9, 2016, column in the publication, The Next Platform,
HPE fill a NUMA server gap with SGV UV iron, “HPE admits that it has a gap in its product line.” Working together, HPE and SGI have been chasing those customers “who want big memory machines,” but for HPE to go alone – and yes, they could have – and invest the money required, made little sense.

And what’s the key driver for scale-up machines with big memory? Databases; in particular, in-memory databases! When it comes to big memory machines “SGI already has such a machine in its UltraViolet 300 series that is based on its own NUMALink 7 interconnect and – perhaps most importantly – it is already certified to run Linux as well as some of the databases that some HPE customers want to run.”

In an interview given to The Next Platform, Jeff Kyle, Director, Product Management for Enterprise Servers, HPE, told the reporter that, “
doing a (partnership) deal with SGI to offer a more scalable eight-socket machine aimed at database workloads was in keeping with HPE’s mission to offer the right technology at the right time at the right price, and it didn’t hurt that the SGI UV machines come in a rack form factor that is more compact than the Superdome X.” Furthermore, “With this (partnership) deal, HPE is going after business that Lenovo, using the former System x line from IBM, has been aggressively pursuing, according to Kyle, in the eight socket space.” 

But wait, there’s one more thing and I believe it has relevance for the NonStop community. After rereading the various articles that followed the press release on SGI, I have to ask - will this add further weight to the primary message of transformation to a hybrid infrastructure? Will this dovetail nicely with the already strong message of converged infrastructure that ties together traditional IT with private clouds? Purely musings on my part of course and more than likely leading to further clarification by those much closer to the HPE - SGI deal.

So let me transition to the most important number of all yet again – being #1! For some time I have been posting about the possibility of NonStop SQL/MX becoming the OLTP database for applications like SAP when the system configurations are hybrids. HPE IT is testing NS SQL/MX as a Service, provisioned from within an IT private cloud. But SAP HANA is all about in-memory databases and while HANA can support both row and column organization, for most users, it is the columnar organization that comes to the fore.  As one blogger observed recently, “Use rows for transactions, where you’re trying to enter data. Use columns for analytics, where you’re trying to look at data.”

HANA protagonists go to great pains to say HANA can do both – “In HANA, a table can be row-oriented or column-oriented; the programmer (or data designer) simply decides which it is to be.” However, from where I sit, the expectation is that HANA will be most beneficial in support of analytics and this is where NS SQL/MX comes in. Leave HANA to support the columnar processing, in-memory if you prefer, that we associate with data analytics, and let NS SQL/MX do the row processing we associate with transaction processing. And for sure, this will provide a compelling #1 solution for many enterprises where SAP has become deeply entrenched; wrapped up under the cloaking of HPE’s primary message – transformation to a hybrid infrastructure.

I am still to confirm whether there is dependence on SAP HANA within HPE but my suspicions are that there is. Just as Oracle is on its way out at HPE, the quest for answers has led to a renewed faith in NonStop and in particular, NonStop SQL/MX. Has the quest for faster SAP HANA led to the purchase of SGI? Have the news agencies only got the story half right – sure, throwing up roadblocks for the likes of Dell and Cisco may look the more obvious ploy but pulling together the pieces for a powerful NonStop / SAP HANA hybrid looks awfully appealing. And to think, for numbers Silicon Valley just don’t seem to get these days – a pittance involving just a few hundred million dollars!  When it comes to major vendors, could big savings become the true measure of being #1?

1 comment:

mohiuddin shehab said...

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