July 28, 2020
TEC37 E09: Why Vendor Lock-in is the Best Strategy for SDDC
Many organizations are hesitant to commit to a single vendor for their data center. However, when moving to a software-defined data center (SDDC) model, vendor lock-in may be the best strategy. Learn why this may be your best move.
Please view transcript below:
collaboration from World Wide Technology. Today's show is the second half of our software defined data center series sponsored by both Dell technologies and Intel. We defined software defined data center in part one and we stuck with the high level benefits surrounding it. We emphasized the strategic nature of such an endeavor going out of our way to avoid specific products or technologies. Today, we give you the rest of the story. Now, the title for this one, why vendor lock in is the best strategy for SDDC, doesn't leave much room for ambiguity. You don't have to work hard to see where we're headed here, but the key is to consider the points being made and see if you would end up with the same conclusion. Well, my name is Rob Boyd. Thank you so much for joining us.
All right, guys. Well, another esteemed panel of experts here. I'm going to try and go around the horn and make sure we get all the introductions, but I'll let you guys introduce yourself to make sure I don't mess it up. So I'm first going to start in the big picture to my side here. James, I think we've been on at least one other podcast, but tell us who you are and what you do.
James Harless: We have. So I'm James Harless. I work on the global engineering team here at World Wide Technology and I essentially cover software defined data center. I support all of our various regions from Omaha.
Rob Boyd: Excellent. Excellent. Okay. All the way from Omaha. Let's keep going around the horn. Let's see. That would mean Sean Hicks. You're up next. Sean, who are you? What do you do? And where are you coming from today?
Sean Hicks: I'm coming from right here in your studio. Actually it turns out Rob and I live in the same metropolitan area. And so we decided since we've both been quarantining, that we could still meet the CDC guidelines and do this. Sean Hicks. I'm a technical solutions architect. I'm actually James' colleague, same team as him over at World Wide Technology. My focus is actually hybrid cloud platforms. So James and I work together quite a bit.
Rob Boyd: All right, excellent. I know we're going to bend your knowledge and you've also been on this podcast a number of different times and so you get to graduate and come visit the studio. Studio, home studio. All right, well, let's also now move on, Jason Lamb. Jason, tell us what you do and who you're with.
Jason Lamb: So as you mentioned, Rob, my name Jason Lamb. I work for Intel. I'm also a solution architect on a global team there. We've called ourselves kind of cloud solution architects, but I think I'd be a little bit more specific and say that we serve a role more as a cloud solution strategist, right? The architects are the ones that build it, really design it and add a build. We're in a position of trying to provide a sort of trusted advice to both enterprise end users as well as our partners such as WWT, to the folks that provide the advice to their end user on particularly the kind of data center cloud transformation and the role Intel plays in it, obviously, right, because I'm a representative of Intel. And I'm hailing from the great state of Maryland this morning and all mornings and it's a shame I can't be there in the studio with you guys.
Sean Hicks: Go Terrapins.
Rob Boyd: Oh, there you go. Okay. Nice reference. All right. No, glad to have you here. And it's actually your trusted advisor status is exactly what we want out of you for this conversation today. And then the person that I would say is probably on the hot seat, just because of the way we've set this particular show up, Pat Dooly. Pat, tell us who you are and where you're from.
Pat Dooly: Yep. I'm Pat Dooly. I'm an HCI specialist from Dell technologies. I currently live in Traverse city, Michigan. So the great white North and all the snow has finally melted up here. So just in time for winter again.
Rob Boyd: Really the snow just melted?
Pat Dooly: No, no. That's what everybody thinks though when you start talking about Northern Michigan, is that by mid July, the snow's gone and it's back in August which is not necessarily the case.
Sean Hicks: Yeah. It's cool. Everybody thinks I rode a horse to Rob's house.
Rob Boyd: Yeah. Absolutely. Yeah. Some of us do have horses. I don't. I have a ... yeah. Anyway, it's certainly warm here in Texas and yeah, but it's North Texas, so it's a little bit cooler ostensibly than South Texas, but where I grew up. Well guys, listen, you're exactly the right people for this conversation. World Wide Technology of course sponsors the entire podcast. This is their podcast today. Dell, you're our big sponsor and our topic really. Pat is around this notion of really just coming right out with it and saying that for vendor lock-in not being a negative thing, but being an actually a positive thing when it comes to how we're handling SDDC.
So we had a previous episode where we covered SDDC and we stayed high level, did not get too heavily into the specifics, but now this episode is about getting a bit deeper in saying, how do we actually make this work? Obviously, we're going to talk about the benefits of doing this from a Dell perspective. And so with that, I wonder, Pat, let's just start with you. And I wonder if you could define, how do you define SDDC and Dell's role in this? And let's use that as our starting point to then break this down and talk about what all you provide that maybe doesn't have to come from the same vendor, but maybe should.
Pat Dooly: Yeah, absolutely. So when we're talking about SDDC as a whole, that's whole software defined data center, we're talking about all the different components that go into that. So we're talking about virtualizing different components, automating different components and going through and trying to make a seamless operation of management and operations as a whole into this whole automated bundle. So when we start thinking about what kind of platforms and what kind of pieces of software really play into this, we talk about VxRail with a lot of the automation that VxRail manager comes to date just as a basics for the SDDC. And really the basics for software defined data center as a whole should be hyperconverged infrastructure because that's where a lot of software and a lot of automation is the initial platform to build this on.
Rob Boyd: Well, let's expand this a little bit and I'm going to call on James here on this one. And James, I'm curious from an SDD perspective, taking off the ... Well, actually you don't ever wear a vendor hat because of the fact that for World Wide Technology, you guys represent everybody more so than we can show on in one single podcast. But in terms of SDDC and what is involved with it, I completely agree with what Pat's saying in terms of hyperconvergence is obviously a very key ingredient. It's probably what we'd come away with saying, here's your first physical step someone may take in that direction, but what other kinds of things whether or not Dell provides them or not do you say are normally included in an instate of SDDC? And I trust Sean will jump in as necessary.
James Harless: Yeah, so that's a great question. So essentially when we think of software defined data center, that's really never the business outcome in and of itself. The business doesn't want a software defined data center. They want the things that software defined data center delivers. So they're looking for either an optimization of their purchasing for hardware and software in the data center or they're looking to support modern apps or more commonly, they're looking to build a private cloud platform on top of that. So that's really this notion around what we're trying to build with a software defined data center and why it's so important to find a trusted partner to work with, because essentially your end goal is not the SDDC, your end goal is something much higher than that. And that's really, we want to spend as little bit of time as possible on things like putting together pieces of software and putting together pieces of hardware and look to a pre engineering solution to deliver that value for us.
Sean Hicks: Yeah. Just to build on that, in the last podcast because this is technically part two, we spoke about how businesses really value the speed to innovation. And it's not really about the things that we keep ourselves busy with like cabling and racking gear and coming up with architectures to support all this stuff. Right. And so when we think about like what businesses really want, which as James pointed out, it's like that private cloud, which is essentially like a cloud operating model, right? We want that elasticity. We want that self service. We want all those things that have made the public cloud so popular. We want that on-prem as well. And so when you look at the public cloud providers, each of them is an SDDC onto itself. But when you look at what they're offering you, you don't care about the underlying infrastructure, right?
They have a packaged offering, it's a pod. For like AWS for instance, that's going to be Nitro, they've got their compute stack, they've got their networking, all of that. I don't care about that. I just want to deploy services on top of it. We're approaching our internal IT the same way and we don't need to rethink all of that. Dell is coming to us with a packaged offering, with a pod, if you will and saying, "Here is the thing that you can easily run a VMware Cloud Foundations on top of, and it's just going to work." We don't need to spend a lot of time and cycles on trying to reinvent the wheel.
Rob Boyd: So that's one thing I think obviously, so one thing that makes the most sense. And coming from a manufacturer's background as I have, I've long argued for the single vendor, that lock-in and as we call it golden handcuffs, these can be a very positive thing and I want to get into some of those details. But before we do, when I think about the reason why I've dealt with so many customers that did not want vendor lock-in, do you guys agree that it's the general notion and Jason, I'll ask you to weigh in on this one because you've touched so many different customers on this one. But usually we say, the drawback to vendor lock-in is choice. And maybe I'm not getting the very best because maybe that vendor is not the best at all the different elements that are important to me. And so they want the ability to choose. Is that what you would say is the kind of the opposite of going vendor lock-in in this situation?
Jason Lamb: Yeah. So I think that customers can understand at a technical level and they can understand at a business level, the challenges that exist for them in terms of technology acquisition for vendor lock-in. A lot of us aren't really that old on the podcast. Some of us have a background going back to the eighties and stuff. But beyond that, I think there's probably a kind of environmental memory of the origins of computer infrastructure. They were very structured, very rigid. There was a time when people couldn't even have access to the computers. They had to go through an intermediary to have access to the computer. So we're really moving in a ... So vendor lock-in has a bad connotation. And I'd kind of bristle when I hear us talking about this right now, because I think the more important value is to be able to sort of lead from the front.
In other words, one of the things, let's take VMware's example because it's already been sort of mentioned. One of the things that VMware has pioneered was the ability to do software defined easily, right? This notion of speeding time, the fact that time is against the IT infrastructure is a reality that everybody deals with today. And so the thing that using ... and by the way, I'll also suggest this. Uniformity can be sort of understood conceptually horizontally, right? So if you're uniform in terms of say for example a hardware, an HCI perspective, you have value in terms of that management layer, uniform at kind of the software defined server storage and network. You have uniformity at that layer, but the layers themselves, you can combine them with other things as well.
So if a customer chooses to go with a fully software defined say for example, VMware solution, they can look at orchestration and automation from a cloud native perspective container with another solution. So I think the biggest challenge that customers have today is not the technology challenge. The biggest challenge that customers have today is committing to this sort of strategic deployment of their technology going forward. So just like James and Sean and everyone was saying that if the point isn't software defined, the point isn't even really cloud. The point is these new applications that are cloud native are going to scale exponentially and they're going to do all these kinds of amazing things, but we got to get there. We have to have ... I've never seen this, like I've been in the technology industry for 30 years. I've never seen a sort of a change in the industry that's being driven from the applications, because the applications are being rewritten in a completely new way.
This whole cloud native containerized application is completely different than what we're used to before, but that is in itself is forcing these dramatic changes the receiving end. So for example, it's forcing number one, organizations to rethink their human deployment, right? We want to have instead of separate sort of operations and development teams, we want to bring them closer together. This is this acronym DevOp. It's also forcing as we're talking about today, an infrastructure change as well. But I think the biggest challenge that customers have is to not necessarily focus on the notion of vendor lock-in, not right here right now, but focus more on are we going to be committed to this change? And then let's start building sort of the layers that are going to allow us to do that. And that's why what James and Sean does is so critical to be able to come into an organization and sit down with them and say, "Look, this is the state of the industry. This is what you get when you commit with this sort of software solution set and move away from the whole conversation around vendor lock-in," if I could suggest Rob.
Rob Boyd: Preach it, brother. Yeah. No, you said that really well. And the point is, and I think vendor lock-in is a negative term and I don't blame you for bristling. And maybe I think the idea of kind of leading with that terminology here was to make the audience bristle a bit and say, "Well, I wonder how they're going to approach this as we go." But I do agree and I would argue and Pat, I'm just kind of curious if you can cover the, so the elements. We talk about HCI and the unique things that you guys are doing with your hardware combined with VMware and their software, it always feels like one of the benefits from my perspective of going with a vendor who has already worked through some of these integration challenges, because we're always making trade offs in terms of, well, how, I mean, if you were going to go truly a best of breed, well, how far down do you want to go with that?
Do you want to break every little bit down and make sure it's all ... Well, that's probably working against yourself to an extended degree and you'd just have to have World Wide Technology engineers move in with you because that's a level of integration that'll never stop. But Pat, I wonder if you could cover what are the benefits of starting to put things together in terms of how ... Because you guys have pre engineered a lot of your solutions to get customers to the point of being able to actually work on their outcomes and work on business, God forbid, rather than simply playing with architecture, right?
Pat Dooly: Yeah. So when we're going through and we talk about the most basic building blocks of hyperconverged for a software defined data center, VxRail is one of those great examples of that where out of the box, it's got 200 automated tasks that go through, do the management, do operations, and do that day to day deployment and configuration that most folks get trapped into for weeks, sometimes months worth of deploying this type of stuff on site and getting to the notion of now step two is building that application or building that business outcome for somebody where we've taken the first hundred steps and made that into a product for you, so to say. So that way you're going from one validated design or one validated state to the next validated state and not having to worry about all those interoperabilities or the software and the hardware and things of that nature.
And that's really what starts to build out that software defined data center as a whole, is you don't care about one known state to the next known state, you just want to know that you can get there. That way you can start focusing on the deployment outcomes and the business outcomes that you're really working to put this on.
Sean Hicks: Yeah. So bringing up a great point actually. I mean, it was mentioned earlier that some of us have been around since the eighties. That's not where my IT career began, but I did learn Commodore basic. But yeah, anytime I hear the word, the phrase crash cart, I'm going to cringe a little bit because I remember those days of pushing a crash cart through the data center, trying to upgrade firmware on all these different servers and all of this stuff that is frankly is a single click in VxRail. Right. And we also think about, you mentioned it, we think about like logical configurations of basic components, right? There's no value in that for the business, but it becomes incredibly painful whenever we get config drift or human error, and I've seen it, right? I've seen these organizations that build these environments that pretty much span the globe, right? I've got data centers in North America, data centers in Europe, data centers in Asia.
And when I go look at the individual systems, even if they're consistent within a region, they're not consistent globally and that really breaks things like automation, the things that actually make me achieve that cloud operating model, help me go faster, help me be an agile organization. Those things break down whenever I don't have uniformity. And so knowing that this design is best of breed, knowing that all of these pieces have been tested against each other, we know that these versions work with one another and then kind of just saying, "Okay, it's good enough. We'll accept it the way it is. Let's lay the intelligence on top of it. Let's keep moving with our actual innovation and focus on things like security and capacity planning, rather than focusing on tasks that really are just busy work, that we've trained ourselves over the years to accept as the value in the jobs that we do, but it's not bringing any value to the organization."
Jason Lamb: And Sean, this problem gets more difficult going forward, right. What you've just described is a problem in and of itself. But now when we take ... and we sort of spread them across lots of servers in a data center, it used to be that they went sort of ... When Oracle went down, everybody knew what that server was. And you could send a team of guys over there to get its cluster partner back up. But now if you have a problem and where you have inconsistent infrastructure below, not only does it make diagnosing the problem much more difficult, but think about all the money that we're costing customer because their application just either slowed down tremendously or God forbid, halted. So what you just said is amplified by the world that we're going into I believe.
Sean Hicks: Absolutely. Yeah. And you were just speaking a little while ago about the incredible rapid scale of all these apps that are coming, right? All the apps are being rewritten to this scale. All the new apps are being written natively to this ability to scale and the infrastructure has to keep up.
James Harless: Yeah. I think Rob brought up a good point a little bit ago as well, that we've actually already accepted this paradigm in other areas in the data center. So if you think about a physical server, we don't go through and ask for the best memory DEMs and the most optimal southbridge chip, and the best PCI cards. We buy from a vendor that we select a package. And we're really talking about, let's make that package more appropriate to the modern data center, right? That package is now the software defined data center.
Rob Boyd: Great point. I want to play my negative audience advocate role here just a little bit. And I'll throw this out to whoever wants to address it, but I feel like, and this is maybe it's because I heard it so much when I worked for a manufacturer. So I'm going to ask Pat to lay low on this answer here for a second. But it's the notion of, well, I'm tired of manufacturing vendors, whoever they may be, telling me that everything's going to be easy if they just buy everything that I've got a SKU for. And so I know World Wide Technology and Intel sees everything under the sun, but guys, there's a lot more to it.
I think I'm piggybacking off what James is saying here and the notion of, and actually what Sean brought up, but this notion of we're always going to have a long to do list that never gets finished, but are you able to put things on that list that are a priority or are you constantly bogged in that list? So I don't know. Is there pushback here for the notion that, well, you're making it sound too easy. All I've got to do is buy all my Dell system and then I'm going to be up and running with SDDC. Surely it's not that simple.
Jason Lamb: I would just sort of say, just building off a point that I previously made, if you're looking at it more from a layered perspective, then I don't think that you necessarily need to get wound around the axle about this. So for example, you take a look at your HCI infrastructure and you have some sort of standards that you want to set to make sure that all of your HCI servers can operate with a certain amount of functionality, capability, APIs, whatever the requirements to your business are, that you can kind of divide this problem up and go forward and solve it on a layer by layer basis.
Sean Hicks: Yeah, that's absolutely right. I mean, that's exactly what we're talking about here is we're letting the vendor focus on the things that aren't valuable to us so that we can go focus on things that are valuable. And just sort of leaning on them, do we trust Dell that they've done their due diligence? I mean, they're putting a ton of R&D into VxRail to make sure that it works the way we say it's going to work. So yeah, I think we trust that. It's kind of like I brought this up before because the corollary to what Rob is saying is also the whole like is it going to cost me more because I'm with a single vendor on this solution?
And I keep thinking back to a friend of mine who runs on a 3D print firm. His whole business is basically around printing custom parts for hobbies using his 3D print firm. And he doesn't buy the cheapest 3D printers. He buys reputable printers from a reputable company. Sure he could save money by buying 3D printers from some bargain basement outfit out of Southeast Asia and it would save him some money, but it doesn't save him time. Right. And he doesn't just buy the 3D printers from that company, he also buys their filament because they happen to make their own filament. And he uses their software to do the slicing because it works best as an ecosystem. And he knows that that company is going to be there for him when he needs it. Because if the print firm, if something goes wrong, his production is down. So and I know I'm getting off topic talking about 3D printing [crosstalk].
Rob Boyd: No, but that's an important analogy though I think.
Sean Hicks: But the point is that he's in the business of designing parts and prototyping them and printing them and making them available on his website for customers to buy. He is not in the business of repairing 3D printers, of troubleshooting. And so he is willing to spend a little bit extra, right? Not a lot extra, because I own one of these printers. I know how much they cost. Spending a little bit extra to make sure that he's not wasting his time on things that aren't valuable to his business.
Rob Boyd: Right. Right. Well, I'll tell you what is ... Here's where I go pro in terms of vendor lock-in in the sense that, because I've been through companies where we've been working to reduce the number of relationships that we have, because the whole point is to work with fewer people at a deeper level, because there's ultimately always going to be a lot of vendors that you have to work with. But one benefit I like and just to use the printer analogy because without having to say Dell here and just make sure we're not fluffing up Pat too much. But the notion that if I'm buying stuff consistently and let's say Pat's my representative in some form or engineering, my assumption is we're going to get a lot better service and responsiveness and things because maybe every time I meet with Pat, he doesn't feel like I'm just trying to beat him up for a price by throwing another vendor at him that can kind of do the same thing and I may or may not buy his direction.
And so there's a constant tension in the relationship, which can be healthy. I think people need to make smart, educated decisions. But I do think that when you commit to somebody, you're suddenly in a different partnership type of role that you get to play. Pat, I'm wondering, I assume you've probably got multiple things you could refer to in terms of the benefits of having a relationship where you and your customer aren't playing games with how something is going to happen next and the benefits that may come out of that. But I don't know. Can you reflect a little bit on what does that mean to a relationship when someone committed to using you and both your products and your services?
Pat Dooly: Yeah. I think one word really comes to mind with that and that's integration, that's integration and knowing their environment well enough to put the right products in there. It's knowing that you're integrated in enough to know how the people work and what they're looking for as a whole business outcome or solution outcome. And when we start talking about those products, the integration with each other, so we're not taking those layers that Jason says and mixing and matching them with all different kinds of products that may or may not work well with each other. So to go through and have vendor lock-in and have let's say the VCF suite sitting on top of VxRail, we know that SDDC manager and VxRail manager all work well together. It's a single click upgrade from the top of the stack all the way down to the drivers and the firmware level of each component of that stack.
Jason Lamb: Hey Pat, would you also agree that it's reciprocal? In other words, if a customer is a loyal Dell customer and they come to you and they say, "We need our infrastructure to do this. We need it to have this kind of Kubernetes support or we need it to sort of be automated in this direction," that that kind of feedback can go into the product management team at Dell and say, look, our significant customers are now asking for it. In other words, what I'm asking, what I'm saying is can't they help guide the product development going forward because of their relationship with Dell too?
Pat Dooly: Absolutely. Yeah. We do all kinds of different customer focused tech summits or customer focused R&D sessions of, hey, we released these features or we're going through and we're going down this road, this is what our .next roadmap looks like and we have a lot of NDA customers of that, that do a lot of beta and alpha testing for us as well. So yeah, absolutely. That's a critical part of that integration.
Sean Hicks: Yeah. Worth noting, there's also an economies of scale argument there as well. Right. So if you think about all of the, you mentioned earlier 200 plus automation tasks out of the box for the VxRail. So imagine staffing to be able to create that kind of intellectual property. Right. But even though we are saying, yeah, you might spend a little bit extra for all this goodness if you stick with a single vendor strategy, but economies of scale comes into play. If I think about how much it would cost me to go develop all of that IP on my own versus myself and every other Dell customer all contributing to the thought pool of, hey, here are some ideas about how we can make this better and then Dell takes that and runs with it and the product gets better over time as it has, there is a benefit there to me from that perspective as well.
Pat Dooly: Yeah, absolutely. It's usually thousands of people and billions of dollars. This is what it equates to.
Rob Boyd: In our last about if my timer's correct around eight minutes or so, I want to talk about next steps that we encourage people to take. And I'm going to go around and I'm going to end with you James on that one, because I want you to give us your perspective on World Wide Technology resources that have already kind of helped in this area with your focus on education and such. But again, going back to Pat, Pat, when you've got customers that are, I would assume that there's somewhat of a, if they're thinking SDDC then hyperconverged infrastructure already feels like a foregone conclusion because it's the easiest, biggest first step you could take it feels like in terms of adding value.
I personally have witnessed customers when they come from a traditional architecture, it's so much fun to move them to hyperconverged because of the number of things they don't have to worry about anymore. The number of things that scale more easily and the speed change and responsiveness that users actually notice and come to IT with positive feedback for a change, as opposed to things are broken all the time. I wonder what kind of suggestions and scenarios do you see as people, perhaps you would suggest that people go to first? They go, "This sounds interesting to me, I'd like to know more." I know you would suggest World Wide Technology, but if I can hold that out of your answer for a second because we got representation, what are your thoughts?
Pat Dooly: Yeah, absolutely. So I mean, if you're a customer out there thinking what are my next steps and you're currently on three tier architecture, you need to take a really solid look at hyperconverged infrastructure as a whole, because not only is that going to help promote and educate you from a standpoint of what software defined it is, because it's really the first steps that you need to take in order to achieve that, but it also will increase automation in going through and diversity of what you can go through and do with that infrastructure where today you're probably pretty siloed where you have a SAN team or you have a converge team where that does compute and maybe some VMware.
And then you have a network team where you need to really start breaking down those silos as a corporation or as a business unit and start looking at how you can integrate and how you can automate some of those aspects of it on hyperconverged. And then from there, if you're already a hyperconverged customer and looking at, hey, I need to have to be a cloud first type model, then going through and looking at VCF, VMware Cloud Foundations would be a next great step of how you can start automating some of that with NSX and vSAN and some of the other Dell technology components that have a secondary storage inside of them.
Sean Hicks: Those are great points. And I'm not going to say that hyperconverged is the answer for everything. Rob and I were actually having a conversation prior to the session about are there still workloads out there where a three tiered architecture is still the correct way? And the answer is yes, there are, but the number of them is getting smaller and smaller and smaller. And so maybe I can't achieve it for every workload in my environment, but what if I could achieve it for 80 to 90% of my workloads? I could get away from this old mentality that really we haven't needed for several years now, where we're trying to squeeze every last ounce of performance out of the spindles because that's not how storage works anymore. And now we can rely on software intelligence to give us all that performance.
We really need to shift to more of an operational focus of really operational excellence, right? Making sure that less focus on the actual infrastructure, more focus on whether or not applications are performing to meet our customer's need, whether that's an internal customer, an external customer, we want that best possible user experience.
Rob Boyd: I agree completely. Jason, as a final point, any other next steps you can recommend, be it even research, things people need to understand perhaps they start biting off in these kind of directions. What would you share?
Jason Lamb: Yeah, so my advice to any of our IT organizations around the world is especially in light of what we've seen now, right? So we're living, we're going through a moment right now in our collective societal experience that's unlike anything that we've ever experienced before. And unfortunately, we've seen the failure of a lot of data processing systems as a result of that, right? We've seen some tremendous exponential scale kill a lot of unemployment web servers on state organizations all across the country in the United States. And so we've seen kind of the limits of this sort of brittle data center infrastructure that we've carried forward to now. My recommendation is this, is that the infrastructure and operation leaders, right? The ops leaders clear the table, erase the white board and get in those business line unit owners, right? The ones that are the application consumers in your organization. Get all in a room and ask them, what is it that they want to achieve going forward?
And almost every case, a lot of these businesses are going to be experiencing some kind of digital transformation pressure. It's going to be some pressure that's going to be being exerted on their business. And so ask the application owners, the folks that are going to be using this, what is it that you want us to accomplish? Then out of that, you're going to come up with a set of recommendations. Maybe it'll be, we want a client app for our phone to do this, that, and the other. Everyone's going to come up with some really brilliant ideas. Then you as the infrastructure sort of leaders get with an organization that knows the space, right? Bring in those cloud consultants from WWT and sit down with them and say, "This is what we're being asked to do." And as Pat was talking about, be prepared to put everything on the table, right?
So let me just say something briefly. Software defined storage on hyperconverged platform means no more buying SAN storage. Software defined network on a hyperconverged platforms means no more buying those big boxes. Now, by the way, a Cisco Juniper, a big, big networking device. Now, by the way, I want to be full disclosure here. From 1999 to 2011, I was an employee of Brocade Communications, one of the pioneers in the SAN space. So I understand the impact that that had to the industry and the enterprise, and what's happened as a result.
But what I'm saying is, Rob and everyone is that it's now time to take a fresh look at everything. And it's time to sort of design for an exponential scaling future. Let's figure out how we can deliver the applications our organizations need and let's sort of to start with a blank sheet, a blank white board, to design the right infrastructure. And in that instance, the consultants at WWT perform a critical function because not only can they talk to you about it, they can actually show you. They can actually bring you virtually into the ATC or literally in [inaudible] when we can and show. So that would be my comment.
Sean Hicks: While I masochistically live for fiber channel zoning and adjusting buffer credits for long distance SAN links, you're absolutely [crosstalk].
Pat Dooly: We got to get you a hobby, man.
Sean Hicks: I have way too many hobbies. So you're absolutely right. And in part one of this conversation, we really focused on sort of the people process part of all of this, right? Not so much the solution part of it and how that has to come from the top. It has to come from leadership. They have to erase the whiteboard, as you say, and say, "You know what? We're no longer going to value our employees on the busy work of crawling around with the dust bunnies running cables under the elevated floors, right? We're going to focus on these other things that actually bring real innovation, real promise, real value to the business.
Jason Lamb: And Sean, by the way, on that point, as a former guy who was crawling around on the floor with dust in his hair running cables, right, as an old timer, I want to shout out to all those folks across the world, because what we need for them to do now is to stop doing that and start doing something different now. Start building those cloud native applications. In other words, it isn't about replacing these functions. It's about changing the responsibilities for our teams so that they start sort of moving up the stack. So I agree with you on that point.
Sean Hicks: Yeah. Leave the thick net under the floor. Don't worry about it anymore.
Jason Lamb: Yes. Let's give them something new to do.
Rob Boyd: Why do I feel like we're overclocking our Intel processor? Sorry. Go ahead.
Pat Dooly: I was going to say another big thing about this whole thing too is the support function of everything, of how is this going to work and how are you going to support all of these different layers, all these different functions, all of these different processes now that you've put into place? And that's where the having a software defined data center with a single vendor really helps with that. That way you're not making six phone calls to try to figure out a problem. A single vendor can take care of everything from top to bottom. In this case, VxRail on VCF would be a single call to Dell technologies and we take care of everything.
Rob Boyd: No, I think that's a great point. [crosstalk].
Sean Hicks: Yeah. I have to still a plug for World Wide here, but the solution is expansive and there's a lot of things that Dell is rolling into VxRail. I don't want to miss the opportunity to say that VxRail even includes some networking capabilities, right? So part of the VxRail family is smart fabric services, which allows you to automatically build these modern East West spine leafed topologies for your HCI environment. And so where is that boundary? And that's where a partner like worldwide comes in, because at some point, this does have to interact with other environments. You do still have technical debt, you still have legacy infrastructure. And we at World Wide, we've all that. And we've seen the new stuff and we're the ones that can come in and really help you figure out how those things interconnect with one another.
Rob Boyd: I'm trying to show my countdown clock is reached red and Sean's next to me. I'm like, "Okay, Sean, wrap it up, man. You see the clock? We're both in the same room."
Sean Hicks: What is this TEC57? This is TEC57?
Rob Boyd: Yeah, it's TEC fill in the blank number. No, I'm just kidding. No, this is a great conversation guys. I think we can say that we've ended on this notion of vendor lock-in is a good thing. It's a bad term, phrase that way. But I think the point is that you need to remain focused on the value. But even for someone, even as simple as that thing is this that can help you move towards, James, I'm curious about resources that you would recommend that World Wide Technology provides formally or informally for anyone who may be looking at this and going, "Okay, that all sounds nice and easy. What do I do with you guys next?" Especially because a lot of people who watch this basically are friends that have always turned to you guys for the help in that kind of area.
James Harless: So the first thing to understand is that we do have a practice built around software defined data center. We do have a lot of thoughts around this. We have workshops that you can find on our platform where you can request anything you want through our account teams and we'll come out to address it. We focus a lot on private cloud deployments, as well as kind of designing what that looks like. And what I would tell a customer is as long as possible, stay focused on those outcomes and what's at the top. Try not to pre decide what the hardware is going to be. Try not to worry too much about the physical servers and storage and networking and support. Let that come out naturally as we decide what the ... Because it really, the first thing that we're going to try to figure out is who is the best software vendor for you? What's the best software defined data center.
And I guess the last point I'd like to make there is even though we're talking about vendor lock-in here, one of the fundamental principles behind software defined data centers, we're really going to interact with that from an API level. And so there fundamentally is no lock-in. Ultimately, we can replace this. So you're going to pick the best vendor. You're going to focus what's available today as the best solution. And then if that becomes not the case in the future, because it's all API based, we can shift to another vendor solution in the future. So there really is no lock-in.
Jason Lamb: Well said. Very well said.
Rob Boyd: You're going to take that Pat? No, these are the correct answers. And I think Pat would also agree because the end of the day, we're technologists, we're here to solve problems. This is who we represent right now and we're here to provide answers.
Jason Lamb: And Rob, on the hardware side of things, we just got to keep out doing ourselves. We just got to keep getting better and better. Dell, Intel, we all have to keep adding value.
Sean Hicks: Yeah. I was about to say, it's incumbent upon our strategic vendors to still be there for us five years from now, when all of this is different.
Rob Boyd: No, I think competition is a good thing and it drives the market and keeps us all on our toes. And if it were to go away, it would be boring.
James Harless: Yeah. Honestly, I didn't mean that as a slight to Dell.
Rob Boyd: Oh no, I like conflict. So I was just egging it on.
James Harless: That's a compliment too Dell because Dell wouldn't be in this position if they had a second tier solution, right. They're there because they have the best solution available.
Jason Lamb: And James, they wouldn't be in this position if they didn't do what you just described very, very well, provide a layer with excellent APIs and everything. They're already doing that very, very well.
Pat Dooly: I mean, essentially we are taking VMware and Dell and mixing them together in calling them a solution. So we're taking the APIs that VxRail manager has and mixing in with SDDC manager to have a, we'll call it a semi vendor lock-in at this point because it really is two vendors coming together to create the solution.
Rob Boyd: Yep. Excellent. Well guys, before we do turn this into TEC57, thank you so much. Certainly appreciate World Wide Technology because this is their podcast, but also I really want to thank Intel. Thank you so much, Jason. And thank you Pat, also for representing Dell here again. Great stuff. Always on a lot, and I appreciate all of you taking the time. And to the rest of you, thank you so much for watching. We'll see you on the next one. Thanks everyone.
Pat Dooly: Thanks Rob.
Rob Boyd: Assembling the world's leading technology partners is key to creating the ideal SDDC solution for your organization. At WWT, our SDDC solutions are based on Intel architecture for the modernized data center. Intel applies advanced capabilities and deep ecosystem relationships to deliver transformative scalability through technologies like Intel Xeon scalable processors for your most demanding workloads in machine learning, AI, analytics and more. Intel Optane persistent memory, a new nonvolatile memory technology offering data persistence. Intel Optane SSDs and Intel 3D NAND SSDs to extend high performance storage. With Intel technologies at the heart of nearly every solution WWT architects, we're helping to turn ideas into outcomes. There are several benefits of a single vendor approach when implementing SDDC, an example is VMware Cloud Foundations or VCF on VxRail, a best of breed jointly engineered solution between Dell and VMware that reduces time to ROI and provides predictable streamlined operations with easy maintenance and minimal support throughout its lifecycle. Learn more by requesting a VMware Cloud Foundation briefing to learn how this SDDC solution deployed on Dell's VxRail can help you reach your organization's goals.