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With post-pandemic world in sight, 6 IT services, digital transformation and consulting trends emerge

1Q21 belongs to the India-centric IT services vendors

India-centric vendors demand considerable attention at the start of 2021 for three trends cutting across their sales motions, talent strategies, and avenues to new partnerships and intellectual property. 

Winning deals the old way

In a return to the old-school tactic of rebadging client employees, India-centric vendors have begun winning larger outsourcing deals, in part because the pendulum has swung back to clients demanding “run-the-business” IT services, which naturally favors outsourcing by low-cost offshore IT services vendors. Using an old-school approach to buy their way into mega-sized contacts or secure renewals may heighten competitive pressures for IT services vendors that lack the same scale in offshore locations or willingness to absorb headcount to open doors for long-tail managed services opportunities. Across the outsourcing space, TBR sees a broad trend of vendor consolidation in contracts up for renewal, further pressuring all competitors to expand contract sizes in any way possible.

The most challenged, but also the vendor group with the biggest opportunity, will be the Big Four. Over the past five-plus years, all four firms, to varying degrees, have expanded their application services capabilities delivered through low-cost locations to better appeal to new buyers. Although firms like Deloitte have experienced some initial success, reaching critical mass will require partnering more strategically with the India-centric vendors, unless the Big Four want to adjust their pricing for more mainstream, almost commoditized IT services.

Developing talent onshore  

With attrition diminished by COVID-19, India-centric vendors will continue to push to expand onshore U.S. talent, including in ruralshore locations. By focusing on recent university graduates, the India-centric vendors can access relatively cheap talent, spend less on visas, and market locally based talent as part of their sales pitch. In addition, all IT services vendors could face a tech talent threat from cloud and software majors. While companies such as Google (Nasdaq: GOOGL) and Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) have mostly gone after upper-mid-level and senior-level services talent, strategies could change as those software and cloud vendors expand their services capabilities (for more detail on technology vendors’ expansions in the services realm, see TBR’s September 2020 Digital Transformation: Cross-vendor Analysis). 

Turning to open source

Lastly, India-centric vendors, especially those lacking software-specific talent and IP, have begun promoting their value to Microsoft and other cloud and software giants by investing in and developing more talent through open-source consortiums. In contrast to traditional R&D efforts, open-source consortiums can provide less costly and time-consuming avenues to developing IP and possibly unlock new business opportunities through consortium partners. TBR also believes increased participation in open-source consortiums could potentially have long-term impacts on services vendors themselves, including development of software mindsets and associated practices. 

IBM Think Digital 2020: Making the case for better together

IBM places hybrid cloud at the center of its digital transformation strategy from both a product and a services perspective

At both the IBM and Red Hat sessions, there was no shortage of content that placed hybrid cloud at the center of digital transformation. Through various keynotes and sessions, IBM’s architectural approach, which places Red Hat as the foundational layer for future innovations, came to the forefront. A key example is the IBM Cloud Paks, which are to IBM Services what Red Hat products are to open-source projects. Cloud Paks provide functionality as a service, making it easy for customers to deploy the middleware functionalities that support solutions and applications. The combination of the advantages of cloud computing with IBM’s trusted ability to manage, update and certify solutions for regulatory compliance enable significant improvements in ability and flexibility. It is an emulation of the Red Hat playbook, albeit with far-reaching implications to the Global Technology Services business.

At the event IBM unveiled the IBM Cloud Pak for Data 3.0, which leverages OpenShift 4.3 to deliver new analytics and data management services. Further, IBM’s Partner Packages is a new incentive program for partners that successfully sell the solutions, underscoring IBM’s desire to facilitate customers’ cloud migrations by combining the expertise of services partners with the flexibility of the Cloud Paks.

However, the hybrid cloud model is anything but confined, and Whitehurst noted that edge devices must essentially operate as little clouds and require the same orchestration and interoperability standards. Edge implications address both the telco and enterprise spaces. Network virtualizations seemingly merge IT and cellular technology (CT) through virtualizing those functions to run on the same common platforms supported by OpenShift. Vodafone Business made the case that it leap-frogged competition in India by building a modern architecture that enabled the company to run IT and CT from the same cloud, delivering better consumer service for voice and extending IBM into the adjacent market of hosting enterprise workloads from the same instance.

IBM Think Digital 2020 made the case that IBM and Red Hat are better together — better together in mixed infrastructure, better together in cloud and AI, and better together in IBM’s and Red Hat’s ways of working. Lastly, IBM and Red Hat are better together with Arvind Krishna as IBM’s CEO and Jim Whitehurst as IBM’s president, as the former can assure customers of the IBM offering road map built on Red Hat’s engine while the latter can instill the operational best practices for managing people, processes and financial metrics for a technology world built increasingly on open platforms and recurring revenue subscription models.

Amid rise of Kubernetes as standard in cloud-native deployment, vendors vie to be leading hybrid enablers

Startups seek differentiation in an escalating market with niche, data-friendly tools

While many industry incumbents are taking the fast-paced Kubernetes market by storm, TBR argues the overall market is still in its infancy, leaving ample room for vendors to position their offerings as unique to developer customers. In a room filled with ambitious startups, Humio emerged as a standout due to its enterprise-grade partnership with IBM and impressive scale for a short-lived solution.

Humio streamlines visibility for on-premises and cloud-native environments, easing pressure on developers

Founded in 2016, Humio offers an index-free logging platform for on-premises and cloud environments that processes large data volumes in real time, providing users with greater visibility into both structured and unstructured data. While many competing vendors market public clouds as the home to their streaming technologies, Humio views its on-premises tool as a differentiator given that data challenges, particularly ingestion and investigation, impact legacy customers. TBR believes one of Humio’s distinguishing features is its unlimited pricing plan, which was launched over one year ago. Contrary to a “pay as you scale” model, Humio’s unlimited option flattens the cost curve when customers incur higher data volumes, helping users save on data ingestion and retention costs. While still in its early stages, Humio’s offering, as well as those from other vendors that follow the same pricing model, may end up disrupting the market.

Looking to technology and reseller partners for early entry

An indirect sales strategy is critical for startups, and Humio looks to both technology and reseller partners for success; ahead of the event, Humio entered into an integration and reseller partnership agreement with IBM. IBM now supports Humio’s logging tool on its recently launched Cloud Pak for Multicloud Management — in this instance, Humio’s tool runs as a SaaS offering in the IBM Cloud, where Humio will monitor data health and notify users of issues, all while being simplified for end users via the one-click deployment that the IBM Cloud Paks provide. TBR believes IBM’s backing of Humio’s platform, despite being newer to market, highlights the validity of the technology in its early stages, and we predict that through the IBM Cloud Paks, which are based on Red Hat’s OpenShift platform, Humio will be successful in scaling its offering.

Hybrid, cloud-native and open source define Cloudera’s 3-pronged approach, post-merger

Cloud-native and open source are top of mind in Cloudera’s post-merger product portfolio

One of the key highlights of the event was the launch of Cloudera Data Platform (CDP), an open-source, hybrid cloud platform that includes Cloudera Data Warehouse, Cloudera Machine Learning and Cloudera Data Hub services. CDP is currently available on Amazon Web Services (AWS; Nasdaq: AMZN); however Cloudera hopes to provide customers with a broader range of IaaS providers as the company announced plans to bring CDP to Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform (GCP) in the coming months. While Cloudera is taking a calculated risk by pushing customers to competing services, TBR believes the benefits will outweigh the costs due to the vendor’s increased exposure to a large customer base. The launch of CDP highlights the company’s cloud-native play but also aligns with Cloudera’s intent to offer customers more deployment options. TBR notes that many vendors still perceive the data center as a legacy standard; however, Cloudera is attempting to view it as a gateway to creating a hybrid instance, exemplified by its forthcoming launch of an on-premises version of CDP, dubbed CDP Data Center. This offering will be especially appealing to “lift and shift” customers who have large data sets on-premises and wish to migrate to the cloud.

Relying on security and governance for differentiation

Leveraging open-source technology to deliver solutions to customers regardless of deployment method is rapidly gaining acceptance in the market and therefore has forced Cloudera to explore new avenues for differentiation. TBR believes the vendor is attempting to achieve this through its enterprise-grade security and data governance solution, Cloudera SDX (Shared Data Experience). As a single management plane, SDX separates the data layer from the compute layer to provide automated security and compliance across platforms to help reduce costs and mitigate risk. Cloudera works its SDX offering into the rest of its portfolio, including its recently launched CDP offering, to secure data lakes and centrally manage large amounts of data. VP of Product Management Fred Koopmans and VP of Engineering Ram Venkatesh highlighted the negative effects shadow IT vendors are having on customers’ data privacy as a lack of interconnectivity between platforms hinders fraud detection and data repurposing.

Additionally, shadow IT causes dispersed data, which will inevitably require more labor resources and thus only increase the burden on customers that are likely operating on a shortage of sufficient IT skills. Findings from TBR’s 1H19 Cloud Applications Customer Research indicate that shadow IT is being eliminated while increasingly consolidated purchasing is leading lines of business to report greater autonomy when it comes to making IT decisions. As a result of these trends, we believe Cloudera is taking the right approach by strengthening SDX integrations to provide customers with greater autonomy and centralized data, making app developers, data engineers, business intelligence (BI) analysts and data scientists far more likely to adopt CDP or similar platforms.

In September Cloudera hosted its annual Cloudera Analyst Day, where analysts gained insights during breakout sessions, product demonstrations, keynotes and detailed one-on-one talks with company executives, customers and partners. Key talks included product demonstrations from Cloudera’s recently appointed CEO Marty Cole, Chief Marketing Officer Mick Hollison and Chief Product Officer Arun Murthy, along with a presentation from IBM’s General Manager of Data and AI Rob Thomas. Founded in 2008, Cloudera operates in 85 countries and has approximately 3,000 employees and over 2,000 customers.

IBM and Red Hat close the deal — will it be red washing or blue washing?

On July 9 IBM held a 30-minute Q&A with industry analysts, led by Red Hat EVP of Engineering Paul Cormier and IBM SVP of Cloud and Cognitive Software Arvind Krishna. The discussion confirmed the overarching strategic benefits both parties see in the union while stressing the intentions to keep Red Hat vendor agnostic. Around three-quarters of Red Hat’s revenue is generated through its channel, suggesting Red Hat is viewed as a valuable and highly sought-after partner. Despite the fact that IBM and Red Hat executives continue to echo the necessity of maintaining all of Red Hat’s existing alliances, these relationships could come under review by the partners themselves now that the acquisition of Red Hat by IBM has been approved by regulatory boards globally and finalized.

Indeed, when queried about industry concerns that Red Hat would be “blue washed,” Krishna said, “[Blue washing] would be a bad thing for both [companies],” and suggested the exact opposite — that there could be some “red washing” of IBM that results, which has also been an opinion TBR has offered in various commentary as this deal moved toward closure.

Red Hat almost single-handedly commoditized the enterprise software space before taking aim to do the same thing with the platform layer through OpenShift. Commoditization is not something IBM necessarily has liked to see over the years at it rapidly eroded the transaction-oriented hardware segment of the industry as IBM pivoted to software and services. The developer community can now accelerate innovation through this open foundation layer, which is how Red Hat will remain autonomous from IBM. Red Hat’s best practices around subscription monetization of essentially free IP generated by the open-source community will likely be the best practices brought forward to red wash IBM as it moves further into the automated services arena, with Watson Anywhere and Blockchain Anywhere as two recent examples of these moves.

How can IBM scale Red Hat’s best practices?

IBM will bring its technical skills to the union to bridge the legacy world with the open-source world underpinned by Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), OpenShift and Kubernetes containers. Both Cormier and Krishna highlighted the breadth of IBM Services’ that can be brought to bear for enterprises looking to migrate the 80% of workloads that have yet to migrate to cloud, according to IBM. Through OpenShift, this migration can extend beyond just moving from legacy applications to one public cloud, to encompass nimble and secure migration to and between multiple clouds and on-premises instances.

Red Hat will still operate with multiple vendors while also maintaining the robust and expansive developer community that has been described, with some legitimacy, as almost a cult-like following. Indeed, it can be argued that this merger will in retrospect be viewed as a milestone event in the ongoing march to consumerize IT to simplify the technology side of business operations and focus more on business objectives than on the technical challenges. DevOps and security practitioners will have one platform cemented by Kubernetes containers to work within a true multicloud environment.

What tactical steps must be achieved to implement the strategic vision?

The teleconference had TBR analysts pondering many of the as-yet-unanswered questions that IBM and Red Hat stated will be addressed in the upcoming weeks. Principal among those TBR questions are the following:

  • How successful will IBM be at operating Red Hat as a stand-alone unit — an acquisition model it has yet to take on? Typically, acquired companies are blue washed, and it has been common to see executives from acquired companies resign. Will that be the case with Red Hat? Will Red Hat CEO James Whitehurst stay on, and better yet, will he succeed IBM CEO Ginni Rometty in coming years?
  • How will IBM Cloud Private (ICP) and OpenShift coexist? The move to multicloud with OpenShift underpinning the DevOps and security communities begs the question: How much emphasis will or should be placed on ICP? Will ICP be joined, or will OpenShift supplant that technology, with IBM Services maintaining the implementation based on trust from years of account control in the large enterprise?
  • What will be the development road map for IBM middleware assets? How will these assets align with, merge with, or remain distinct from the Red Hat portfolio?
  • How will IBM blend Red Hat best practices, technology and personnel into its own developer ecosystems, programs, and the IBM Garage method? This issue will be more of a cultural shift.
  • How can IBM and Red Hat increase share in the midmarket enterprise? Developer satisfaction will be closely monitored, but open platforms also mean access to cutting-edge technology by smaller enterprises. That go-to-market motion is radically different from the traditional enterprise motion where IBM has excelled for decades. In the era of multi-enterprise business networks, small enterprises and large enterprises interoperate more frequently through automated systems. IBM’s brand at times works against it within the midmarket, which perceives the offers to be too costly and likely too complex for its requirements. To gain scale with multi-enterprise business networks, this issue will be a critical area to improve upon.

All the right words were spoken, and the strategic vision appears sound. As always, the devil will be in the details, and those details will be laid out in the ensuing weeks and months around one of the most important acquisitions in IBM’s — and the industry’s — history.

Authors: Senior Analyst Cassandra Mooshian ([email protected]) and Senior Strategy Consultant & Principal Analyst Geoff Woollacott ([email protected])

Red Hat builds the digital transformation autobahn, where developers are king of the road

Red Hat production systems curate community IP into a simplified horizontal platform, paving the way for scaled innovation

In a 2015 conference for financial analysts, Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst declared victory in commoditizing the enterprise OS market into RHEL and Windows Server, while outlining Red Hat’s intentions to do the same thing to the (then) emerging PaaS layer with OpenShift.

The closing guest speaker during the Red Hat keynote address at the 2019 summit was Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) CEO Satya Nadella, who announced Azure Red Hat OpenShift. While it might still be premature to declare victory in fulfilling that aspirational objective from 2015, it certainly can be said that Red Hat has made significant progress in a short period of time.

RHEL and OpenShift represent the curation pillars for open upstream community innovations, coupled with Red Hat’s decades of open-source and service experience to deliver a capabilities-based advantage to its users. Red Hat represents the virtuous cycle of trusted platform delivery, user-contributed innovations, and Red Hat production-grade delivery of those innovations back to the community via a platform layer that is increasingly easier to deploy.

RHEL 8 delivers additional simplicity and automation capabilities to allow operators to better facilitate developer innovation

Red Hat heralds RHEL 8 as a significant improvement over RHEL 7, best illustrated by the fact that the upgrade process to RHEL 8 constitutes a simple point-and-click operation, after which automation can take over the rest of the process in seamless fashion.The latest release is said to be designed for applications to run across open hybrid cloud environments, addressing the enterprise hybrid reality. Before its official release to market at the summit, there were over 40,000 downloads of RHEL 8 in beta, which underscores pent-up demand for the release and also helped Red Hat to enhance the operating system based on invaluable feedback from those beta users.

TBR attended the Red Hat (NYSE: RHT) Summit, which featured the usual slew of product announcements. This year, the company focused intently on enhancements to Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 8 and Red Hat OpenShift 4, which are the foundational products for the enterprise. However, more interesting were the general discussions throughout the summit about Red Hat’s business model and cultural uniqueness, which contribute to the company’s success in curating openly sourced IP into enterprise-grade technology products underpinning an ever-increasing share of business software. The value of its people and processes were regularly emphasized by reminding attendees that IBM (NYSE: IBM) is paying $34 billion for a $3.2 billion company that owns no IP.

2019 Data Center Predictions: The pendulum swings as customer demands reshape how infrastructure vendors do business

The cycle of complexity is back as infrastructure vendor portfolio transformations make digitization achievable

Moore’s law economics has reached a point where compute no longer constrains IT automation. Due to the miniaturization of electronics, distributed computing is taking place at the microprocessor board level, as evidenced by the rise of graphics processing units (GPUs) and the resulting hyperconverged infrastructures. As such, refresh cycles no longer consist of replacing old, standardized Intel servers with new variants. Now IT departments look at the cost economics of the traditional standardized servers against the increasing number of compute form factor variants coming to market as purpose-built edge compute instances.

As compute form factors proliferate, there has been a shift in the type of skills IT departments require. Manual taskwork becomes automated. Technical skills have to incorporate more software functionality to operate the various management control planes that can monitor, manage and dynamically provision an enterprise IT instance. Physical IT becomes less relevant based on abstraction, which allows for enterprise IT to reduce the number of primary suppliers. The margin protection for infrastructure vendors will come from the power and simplicity of the abstraction layer, be it PaaS or management, orchestration and provisioning.

The plot thickens when emerging technologies are placed on top of this evolving landscape. Cutting-edge capabilities and the growing need to secure environments are further adding to the complexity of IT infrastructure, as is necessary to achieve desired outcomes. Meanwhile, consumers want to reap the benefits of these emerging capabilities without dabbling in the complexities. Infrastructure vendors will undergo many transformations — in how they partner, in how they go to market, and in how they innovate — to maintain relevance in a rapidly evolving 2019.

2019 Predictions

  • In an increasingly open-source world, the power of partnerships grows stronger within hardware-centric vendor strategies
  • Innovation will be reimagined by infrastructure vendors, as R&D is shifted to address the overarching demand by customers to leverage their key IT vendor as a one-stop shop
  • Emerging infrastructure technologies reshape customer demands, placing increasing emphasis on new ways of computing and managing data

Register for TBR’s webinar The pendulum swings: Customer demands reshape how infrastructure vendors do business, Feb. 6, 2019.

Red Hat can save CSPs from themselves

TBR perspective

Red Hat (NYSE: RHT) is inarguably the leading open source company, with revenues far outpacing those of open source-centric competitors, such as Canonical, which only recently began taking monetization seriously. Red Hat’s solutions are pervasive in the market, with the company counting over 90% of the Fortune 500 as customers. Red Hat executives have been assured the pending acquisition by IBM (NYSE: IBM), if approved, would not disrupt Red Hat’s ways of working and stressed to the analysts gathered that the additional large enterprise relationships IBM would bring to the table would expand Red Hat’s addressable market. Maintaining Red Hat’s open, innovative culture would be imperative for IBM, as a passive imposition of IBM’s culture on Red Hat would severely diminish the value of the acquisition.

While Red Hat Analyst Day focused on the company’s total addressable market, communication service providers (CSPs) is a key customer segment for Red Hat, particularly with respect to virtualization via the Red Hat OpenStack Platform. Red Hat can capture greater wallet share from CSP customers with its open source-centric business model and highly capable, expanding Red Hat Global Services organization as these customers embark on their digital transformation journeys.

 

Red Hat hosted a few dozen industry analysts at its facility in Boston, which opened in June 2017. The space houses an Open Innovation Lab and Executive Briefing Center equipped with interactive touch-screen walls, providing the company an ideal area to bring prospects to demonstrate how Red Hat harnesses the power of open source. A slate of Red Hat executives expounded on Red Hat’s position as the leading open source company globally, divulging customer wins, new products and product road maps, and growth strategies. Little new information was given on Red Hat’s looming acquisition by IBM, though that was expected. Several customer presentations rounded out the day, with each articulating how Red Hat was the ideal partner to shepherd an open source, cloud-first future.

Customer preferences are forming around hybrid and shifting around open source as vendors focus on acquisitions

Prebuilt devices are a ray of clarity amid the fogginess of hybrid

Hybrid can be a difficult thing to define in cloud computing. The term “hybrid” is overused by vendors but underused by customers, causing general confusion over its definition as well as solid examples of hybrid solutions. An area of the market that cuts through those areas of confusion is hybrid cloud integrated systems. These are physical devices (appliances) that are designed to integrate with public cloud services and can be used in customers’ own data centers. The idea that customers can physically touch the box and also integrate with external cloud services makes integrated systems one of the easiest and most obvious hybrid scenarios.

Examples of integrated systems solutions include Azure Stack from Microsoft and its hardware partners and Cloud at Customer from Oracle. While adoption and usage of these hybrid cloud solutions remain limited, the trend is picking up momentum and is prompting vendors such as Amazon and Google to move closer to competing in the space, particularly as customer demand from heavily regulated industries favors local versions of vendor-hosted cloud infrastructure. For example, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft are the two front-runners in the race to win the U.S. Department of Defense’s Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract. While AWS has largely been seen as the overall favorite, its Snowball Edge offering does not meet the same bidirectional synchronization requirement of the tactical edge device that Azure Stack does.

Kubernetes season is in full swing as OpenStack falters

For large enterprise customers, open-source technologies have garnered much interest as part of their cloud strategies. The ability to utilize solutions that provide the same backbone as large cloud providers while maintaining the control associated with open source has been an attractive value proposition for those with the resources to implement and manage them. However, predicting which technologies will be the most commonly adopted has been more challenging, creating uncertainty around frameworks such as OpenStack, which has yet to garner significant momentum in the market.

Compounding the hurdles for OpenStack to overcome continues to be the ongoing explosion in growth among public cloud IaaS front-runners AWS, Google, Microsoft and Alibaba. OpenStack founders and former OpenStack pure plays are making notable shifts toward Kubernetes. The difference, though, is that Canonical and Red Hat are still holding onto OpenStack, while others, such as Rackspace, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, IBM and Mirantis, de-emphasize it.

Customers increasingly understand the benefits of containers and container orchestration platforms and embrace the portability and interoperability they provide. According to a recent interview done as part of TBR’s Cloud Customer Research Program, a retail SVP, CIO and CTO said, “You need to make sure there are escape clauses in your contracts in case you need to get out. Once you’re in it, you’re pretty much married, and that divorce is really bad. That’s the reason we have a container. … Because if it starts to get too expensive, we want to pull it off quickly.”

This is just one example of the immediate enterprise benefits of container and container orchestration platforms, which can change the game for enterprises in terms of their cloud adoption road maps and long-term cloud plans.

Hybridization is becoming even more widespread than customers realize

While pre-integrated devices are the most obvious examples of hybrid usage, the vast majority of activity is occurring in more subtle situations. This activity is driven by the desire among vendors to sell broader solutions and the desire among customers to implement services that integrate with existing and other new technologies. The good news for both sides of the market is that there are more capabilities than ever to put those more cohesive, integrated solutions in place.

Salesforce, whose solutions are commonly integrated into hybrid environments, has taken a notable step into the hybrid enablement space by acquiring MuleSoft. The acquisition, which closed on May 1 at the start of Salesforce’s FY2Q19, brings MuleSoft’s well-known integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS) solution and services into Salesforce’s arsenal. The implications for Salesforce, its customers and the market are vast, as the company can create connections between its applications and the variety of other cloud and legacy systems residing in customers’ environments. Salesforce quickly leveraged the iPaaS technology, bringing Salesforce Integration Cloud to market within the first few months of having MuleSoft on board, enabling customers to augment their Salesforce applications and derive greater insights from their non-Salesforce data.

Canonical’s growth play: Make customers’ and partners’ lives easier (and more economical)

TBR perspective

At Canonical’s 2018 Analyst Day, CEO Mark Shuttleworth laid out a very compelling construct for Canonical’s vision of being the link between the operating system (OS) layer and the cloud control planes. Canonical has Ubuntu OS versions to run from the largest high-performance computers with NVIDIA graphics processing units to the smallest device OSes at the heart of offers from niche vendors such as Rigado. Throughout the event, Canonical stressed multicloud interoperability through Kubernetes. The big unknown on the horizon is how to provision infrastructure for edge analytics, which sits at the heart of the strategic relationship Canonical has with Google Cloud as Google donates Borg to ensure Kubernetes does not challenge Borg the way Hadoop forked from MapReduce.

Existing virtualization economics has stalled, with premium pricing models emerging from the major and better-established competitors Red Hat (NYSE: RHT) and VMware (NYSE: VMW). The Canonical play further compresses the economics of the infrastructure abstraction and OS components, where parts will be provided for free and the services and update provisions will become the basis for the monetization model. Akin to how free Android disaggregated the device OS space and gained share against Microsoft, Canonical bets on market projections showing devices used/owned per person growing from two to three devices today to as many as 20 devices within the next five years.

It is from this vantage point that one open-source Linux distro, Canonical’s Ubuntu, was taking direct competitive aim at another (Red Hat), while likewise suggesting VMware’s time as the market maker would quickly start to fade as more and more app modernization efforts move code from virtual machines (VMs) into lightweight Kubernetes containers (clusters).

 

Canonical hosted its 2018 Analyst Day in New York City on Sept. 20, 2018. The event featured presentations from the top leadership at Canonical, including Shuttleworth, Finance Director Seb Butter, SVP of Global Data Centre Sales Jeff Lattomus, and VP of Global Sales, IoT & Devices Tom Canning. Canonical focused on business and go-to-market updates as well as key presentations by partners, such as Paul Nash from Google Cloud, outlining how Canonical has accelerated or added value to their businesses. At this year’s event, there was a noticeable blurring of the lines between cloud and IoT discussions in comparison to years past where there were more definitive tracks. Regarding both Canonical’s own strategy and its conversations with customers, it is exceedingly difficult to have a discussion about one and not the other, which is reflected in the broader IT landscape as of late.