Posted by: Greg Ness | February 10, 2010

HP Joins the Infrastructure 2.0 Conversation

A few weeks ago an HP blogger commented that infrastructure 2.0 is premature:

The intercloud concept has recently emerged as a topic of discussion in the industry.  Conceptually, the intercloud builds on the concept of the Internet where multiple providers participate in a ubiquitous infrastructure employing heterogeneous computing and communications technologies.  Greg Ness describes the intercloud as “an elastic mesh of on demand processing power deployed across multiple data centers. This seems to be the vision promoted by James Urquhart and colleagues at CISCO as described in his blog on The Intercloud and Internet Analogies.

If this elastic mesh is provided by a single cloud provider, then it is simply a different spin on cloud computing.  If it is a mesh of independent cloud providers, sharing workloads, then it is a vision that is not worth concern within the next decade. 

Fred Cummins, HP Community Site, Jan 6, 2010

F5’s Lori MacVittie responded to Fred’s post with a couple spot-on observations:

I’m going to have to disagree with Fred for two reasons. The first is based on the rate of change and innovation in technology in the last decade that certainly points to the next decade being just as disruptive. Consider that ten years ago, in the year 2000, most of the web as it exists today – Web 2.0, APIs, integration, collaboration, video, audio, user-generated content – didn’t exist. From a technology perspective virtualization wasn’t even a twinkle in a VC’s eye and in the infrastructure world, well, we were just beginning to explore the advantages of moving software-based solutions to hardware and hadn’t fully managed to integrate infrastructure solutions let alone anything else.

Lori MacVittie, F5’s DevCentral blog, January 8, 2010

If you view infrastructure 2.0 as a precursor to IT and network automation, then a series of recent analyst reports could indeed be prescient.  Between the power of virtualization and the promise of consumerization, enterprise IT teams are likely at a crossroad; decisions made in 2010 and 2011 could have a substantial impact on the future of their teams and organizations.


A Forrester report by Glenn O’Donnell published last year discusses the magnitude of changes already underway:

A combination of forces, including skyrocketing complexity and severe economic pressure, are radically and irreversibly altering the IT landscape.  New methods, new functional sourcing, and new organizational structures are needed to address this onslaught, but one theme is obvious throughout all of these approaches- a need to automate more of what you do in IT.

Glenn O’Donnell, Forrester, IT 2009: An Automation Odyssey, July 2009


As Enterprise Strategy Group has suggested, 2010 will likely be a year of network automation, perhaps starting at the very core of the network:

Many organizations manage IP addresses using spreadsheets and homegrown tools—there is no way this will scale when we need dozens of virtual IP addresses per physical device.

Jon Oltsik, ESG, Network Industry Outlook for 2010, January 2010


More IP addresses, more dynamic systems, more green initiatives, more endpoints and more promises from public cloud vendors are threatening to sweep away decades of manual scripts and configurations, spreadsheets and committees created to connect one device to another, like the enterprise network’s version of yesteryear’s telephone operators.

The operator was such a powerful symbol of the rise of the telephone network that their jobs even had broad comedic appeal, like One RingyDingy.  (Following Photos from YouTube.)


Yet as those networks grew, the Bell companies were forced to automate operator functionality.  Rows and rows of operators were eventually replaced by switches and software.  Expenses and mistakes were reduced.  This of course was the era before cell phones, which would have been at least awkward for operators to follow.


Imagine our surprise when HP joined the infrastructure 2.0 conversation with Alexander Wolfe weeks later, talking about HP’s converged infrastructure offerings.  HP is no doubt a formidable player in the infrastructure 2.0 space given their expertise on the systems side.  The key question may be related to their depth of understanding and capabilities when it comes to virtual networking or network automation:

This may be the most astute move yet that HP has taken to blunt the high profile Cisco has achieved with its Unified Computing System, a competing Infrastructure 2.0 play, which similarly combines servers and networking.

Alexander Wolfe,, Feb 2, 2010


You can follow my rants in real-time at Archimedius.



  1. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by Archimedius: HP Joins the Infrastructure 2.0 conversation as we celebrate Lily Tomlin’s “telephone operator” as comedy:

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