PODCAST

Getting IT to Speak Business-ese: Q&A With HP VP Andy Isherwood

Let’s explore the major enterprise software and solutions trends and innovations that are making news across the global HP ecology of customers, partners and developers.

I’m Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions. Join me now in welcoming Andy Isherwood, vice president and general manager of HP Software and Solutions.

Dana Gardner: Clearly a part of doing more for less, which has been, unfortunately, a theme that most people are grappling with these days, has involved the need to run IT more like a business to get more insight into what’s going on from a business requirements and financial expectations perspective.

Tell me a little bit, if you could, about what you’re seeing in terms of how organizations are both dealing with this lack of funds but the need to change the way in which they can deliver the results back to the business?


Listen to the podcast (12:51 minutes).


Isherwood:

I’ve been in IT for quite a long time, and we’ve been talking long and hard about IT being at the core of business, and IT being in the business, but the reality probably hasn’t changed significantly. IT people still operate in their own space, with their own jargon, and don’t really link that well to the business.

Obviously, it’s a huge generalization, but the reality is that, in many organizations, IT is this separate silo, quite often not reporting to the CEO, and therefore quite disconnected from the business drivers.

As we’re seeing more and more CIOs reporting to the CEO and being involved in board meetings, the reality is now changing. People now understand what the core business drivers are. People are being coached heavily, because they might not have come from an IT background. They might have come from the business. They’re better able to link the business drivers of the organization to what IT can actually deliver, but not in IT terms. In terms what is the value to the business and how does it address those business drivers.

The other question that’s linked is, what’s happening with budgets, and, therefore, what are the priorities? Clearly, we are in very uncertain times. A year ago, we moved into a recessionary period. Budgets for ’09 were set, and they were typically significantly less.

All the conversations I’ve had with CIOs are that the capital expenditure is typically being reduced by anything between 0 and 40 percent, and operating expenditures being decreased by up to 10 percent. It’s less, but still pretty significant.

So you’ve ended up with a significantly smaller budget to do stuff, which can cause big problems for organizations. They have a certain amount of infrastructure in day-to-day activities to maintain. This means that they have to spend all their budget on existing projects and keeping the lights on, rather than any innovation. If you can’t innovate, then you can’t deliver value back to the business and you become just an IT function delivering the core value.

IT budgets, if you’re not very careful, are driving the organization to just do the core IT functions, rather than link back into the business and add real value in a period, in which it’s probably the most important thing to do. So, how do we innovate and how do we use the budget more effectively than we do today to allow us not just to keep the lights on, but to do this huge amount of innovation?

If we don’t do it now, we won’t be able to do it in the future, because as demand picks up, it’s just going to be “all hands to the pump” to be able to deliver just the demand that picks up, as we come out of the recession.

It will be interesting, as we go into the new budgeting period for [fiscal year] ’10. Are there enough green shoots of recovery to allow people to have confidence to increase budgets and invest, or are we going to have another year of kind of tight budgets? People are very much at the crossroads of needing to innovate and do things differently, but are constrained by budgets, which is a difficult balance.

Gardner: We also see, as they’re grappling with these organizational transformational issues, similar opportunities in the form of a variety of sourcing options. We’re hearing awful lot about the interest in cloud, questions about cloud computing. People are opening up to this notion of the need to examine what we do internally and find some aspects of that that are better served more economically and just as well outside the organization.

We’re dealing with more than just services, software solutions. We’re now looking at sourcing. That, to me, is a decision beyond just technology.

It’s about transforming how your business works. How are the folks you’re talking to here managing this new dimension of sourcing options?

Isherwood:

As you say, people are being given a number of different options. Now that can be good and bad. People have a lot of choice, but they quite often find it difficult to make a decision on the best choice. Other people feel that the choice gives them a lot more scope to do things differently, to manage budgets in a different way, and do things more effectively.

Whether it’s insourced, outsourced, a partner activity, whether it’s on premise or off premise, all of these options give people choices. From an HP standpoint, we have the ability to give people the choice. Our recent acquisition of EDS clearly adds the last pillar of choice, given that we have now an outsourcing business, which is significant.

We can go sell solutions. We can deliver stuff through the cloud and via Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offerings. We’ve got the complete breadth of offerings to allow people to make those choices.

We’re finding that people want advice around the choices. It’s all well and good to have all these choices equivalent to modes of transport, but people need to be given direction, which we’re trying to do. What I’m hearing from customers is that they want advice on what should they insource, what should they outsource, what should they put in the cloud, and what should they have as a SaaS offering.

That’s a really important job and an important role for someone like an HP, which actually doesn’t have a bias, because we’ve got all the options. If we were only a cloud computing or any outsourcing company, we’d be giving customers one option. Our role as a consultant to not only evaluate what is best for those organizations, but what is good for them financially, is a very important part of the role HP can play and should play.

Sourcing is important. The good news is we’ve got all the options, and the good news is we now have consulting capability to advise people — not tell people, but advise people — on what those options are and what we think is the right strategy for them as an organization.

The pricing pressures and the budget pressures that we talked about earlier may force people to outsource or put stuff into the cloud, which is going to be a different driver in a year’s time, when we’re through recessionary period. The financial situation at the moment is driving a more intense look at those sourcing options and what it does from a financial point of view for that particular organization.

SaaS is a great offering. We’ve been in that business for nine years and we have 700 customers. So, we know that business well. We know that in times, in which capital expenditure is being restrained, they can move to a more operating expense oriented budget, but still be able to innovate, which is a pretty compelling proposition. As we move through, and capital expenditure is freed up, that might change, but at least people have the option.

Gardner: Part and parcel with these options is to assess risk and to understand not only what you might be able to do, but what penalties might be involved. This, to me, is a function of governance — being able to forecast, implement, and then to adjust and amend a few policies and automate that across organizations or across boundaries. So, when we look at this process going forward through the lens of governance, how do you see that unfolding and what does HP bring to the table on that?

Isherwood:

The management of all of these sourcing options is a key consideration. Take the example of an organization putting things onto a public cloud. They’re still going to have the same requirements from a governance and management standpoint, but it might be a lot harder than having it in-house.

Management requirements on governance around what data is out there, what performance is like, and what scalability is like, are all considerations and discussions that we help with. It can make the whole world a lot more complex for CIOs. Therefore, the management capability that we have around all of those options becomes even more important.

It’s less important for them to understand and worry about that in-house infrastructure. What they need to do is manage the service that’s being delivered by people outside of their organization. It becomes more of a management of the service, than management of the infrastructure that develops or delivers the service. So, our role is about governance, management and control of the services that are delivered to an organization, rather than the product, power or the storage that’s delivered to a company.


Dana Gardner is president and principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions, which tracks trends, delivers forecasts and interprets the competitive landscape of enterprise applications and software infrastructure markets for clients. He also produces BriefingsDirect sponsored podcasts. Follow Dana Gardner on Twitter. Disclosure: HP sponsored this podcast.


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License Change May Spark New Pricing Trend for Open-Source Projects

software license

Cloud-native microservices platform Lightbend wants open-source licensing to better meet developers’ needs and is doing something to make that happen. However, the replacement fix is not a traditional open-source license. Rather, it transitions there in time.

The company, whose user base includes some of the world’s largest brands, on Wednesday announced significant changes to the licensing model for its Akka technology. The platform is used extensively by industry leaders in financial services, e-commerce, automotive, web services, cloud infrastructure, and gaming.

Akka offers devs the ability to deliver concurrent, distributed, and resilient event-driven applications for Java and Scala. Lightbend is changing the license on all Akka modules from Apache 2.0 to Business Source License (BSL) v1.1, starting with Akka v2.7 which will be delivered in October.

That change will bring hefty licensing costs to high-end users. But Lightbend expects it to bring no major problems on open-source projects.

“The goal is to have as little impact on the open-source community and projects as possible. Open-source projects using Akka can contact Lightbend and apply for a license to use Akka within the realms of the open-source project. We have already called about the Play Framework in the Additional Usage Grant in the license itself,” Jonas Bonér, Lightbend’s founder and CEO and the creator of Akka, told LinuxInsider.

The new license will ensure a healthy balance between all parties, shared responsibility, and by extension, contribute to Akka’s future development, he explained.

Addresses Broken Business Model

The “open core” business model on which Akka is based has shown its limitations for Lightbend and many other organizations in similar circumstances, he offered. The toolkit’s licensing changes will ensure its future development.

Once an OSS project becomes so critical to an organization’s daily operation, many larger enterprises turn to self-supporting this software, without contributing anything more to its development or the community at large, Bonér observed. In many instances, these organizations are generating significant profits leveraging this “free” technology.

Under Akka’s new licensing model, any organization with less than $25 million in annual revenue will not require license fees for production usage of the software. However, Lightbend must still grant those users a $0 commercial license.

Larger businesses with more than $25 million annual revenue must now acquire a paid license plus a subscription for production usage. The BSL is available with several options. The new license does not permit back-porting of any software released.

“I think it is a viable path toward sustainable open source. I expect more companies that are building a business around open source to go down this path,” Bonér noted about the impact the BSL license switch will have on open-source projects.

How It Works

MariaDB Corporation crafted the BSL v1.1 now used by Cockroach Labs and other organizations. The BSL is not an open-source license.

In short, the difference is slight between the BSL 1.0 and BSL 1.1, explained Bonér. Version 1.1 fixed the loophole where a company could opt to never convert to a “change license” by now making it explicit that it could not be more than four years. A full discussion of the version change is available at MariaDB.

Akka’s new license works in two stages. First it has commercial overtones. Then it becomes “customizable.”

Under the commercial stage, users can view the source code of the software they obtain for the $0 license. They can download and use it in non-production environments. However, production usage requires users to obtain an upgraded software license from Lightbend.

The second stage kicks in under an open-source license after three years. That version then is released under the current Apache 2.0 license. It offers a customizable “Additional Use Grant” that will be used to grant usage for other OSS projects such as the Play Framework.

Pricing and Versioning Matters

Each new minor version of the software will have its own change date. A “minor version” is defined as a release that changes the second digit of the version number.

For example, a change from Akka 2.7.19 to 2.8.0 would reset the change date. A patch build change from 2.7.19 to 2.7.20 would not, according to Bonér.

Based on this license revision, here is Lightbend’s revised pricing and packaging for the Akka software:

Lightbend's Akka platform, packaging and pricing options

Organizations seeking more information about the implementation of BSL licensing can explore Bonér’s blog.

Jack M. Germain

Jack M. Germain has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2003. His main areas of focus are enterprise IT, Linux and open-source technologies. He is an esteemed reviewer of Linux distros and other open-source software. In addition, Jack extensively covers business technology and privacy issues, as well as developments in e-commerce and consumer electronics. Email Jack.

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OSS NEWS

Feuding Developers, Dueling Distros Make Linux Lineage Revival Legendary

GitHub gets the heave-ho by a software developer group. Meanwhile, a 12-year-old developer takes on the maintainer role of the near-abandoned Unity desktop.

The start of the summer season brought new and old Linux developments to the forefront. Long-time portable Porteus is freshly released after four years. It offers eight choices. Windows-like Linux Lite is newly released with fresh features.

Enterprise Linux has competition between newcomer AlmaLinux and Rocky Linux. Both contestants are wearing their nines.

Let’s delve into the latest OSS news.

SFC Parts Company with Git

The Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC), a non-profit focused on free and open source software (FOSS), has stopped using Microsoft-owned GitHub for project hosting and wants other software developers to stop using it as well.

In a June 30 blog post SFC officials complained that GitHub over the past decade became a dominant role in FOSS development by building an interface and social features around Git, a widely used open source version control software. That growth involved convincing FOSS developers to contribute to the development of a proprietary service that exploits FOSS.

SFC is pursuing a long-term plan to assist FOSS projects to migrate away from GitHub, according to Denver Gingerich, SFC FOSS license compliance engineer, and Bradley M. Kuhn, SFC policy fellow. They said the SFC will not accept new member projects without a long-term plan to migrate away from GitHub.

Like Phoenix Rising

Unity is undergoing new development, thanks to a youthful new developer who “grew up” using the once-popular Ubuntu default desktop.

In its heyday, Ubuntu’s previous default Unity desktop offered Linux users a refreshing alternative user interface. But Ubuntu’s Canonical leaders kicked Unity to the curb in favor of a more commercially viable GNOME replacement. Unity since then remained mostly idle as an independent, unaffiliated desktop.

Enter 12-year-old software developer Rudra Saraswat from India. This Linux Foundation Certified Developer and Ubuntu member decided to resurrect Unity’s development and is working on the release of Unity 7.6 — now six years after its major seventh release.

The focus is not on bringing new features, at least not yet. Instead, Saraswat’s goal for Unity 7.6 is to get this desktop environment to a stable operating state compatible with the other software libraries available today.

Linux ‘Oldie but Goodie’ Is Back Better

Slackware-based Porteus Linux 5.0 is now available in a choice of eight desktop options with the Linux 5.18 kernel and BusyBox 1.35.

This latest release is the first in more than four years after version 4.0. The update is welcomed news to those looking for the latest improvements for a portable Linux platform.

Porteus is a modular live CD/USB-based platform that started as a community remix of Slax, another Slackware-based live CD.

The eight desktop versions are available as separate ISOs, include some newer desktop environment releases. The choices are the latest versions of Xfce 4.16, LXQt 1.1.0, Cinnamon 5.4.2, and MATE 1.26. Two older versions are KDE Plasma 5.23.5 and GNOME 41.5. Also in the mix are the older LXDE desktop environment and the lighter Openbox window manager.

The main attraction to Porteus Linux, aside from its portability, is its support for older 32-bit (i586) computers.

Linux Lite 6.0 Favors Google Chrome Over Firefox

Linux Lite, a well-known Windows-like distro, is now available in 6.0 based on Ubuntu 22.04 LTS and the slightly older Linux Kernel 5.15 LTS.

This upgrade has a new window theme and assistive technologies. It also has an on-screen keyboard, screen reader (Ocra) and magnifier tools, a new grub menu, and accessibility improvements.

With the growing popularity of touch screen use for Linux, the added on-screen keyboard is a handy improvement. Perhaps one of the biggest changes is the Firefox web browser is no longer included by default. Google Chrome now has that role.

Enterprise AlmaLinux 9 Is Supercomputing Powerhouse

Community-owned AlmaLinux is becoming a popular replacement for Red Hat Enterprise Linux’s free CentOS version. This is the new OS’s fifth stable release.

The distro’s newest release, Emerald Puma, is available on all major public cloud platforms, including AWS, Azure, Google Cloud, and Oracle OCI. The AlmaLinux OS Foundation members supporting its rapid development include AMD, CloudFest, CloudLinux, and Codenotary.

AlmaLinux 9 releases are available for x86_64, aarch64, ppc64le, and s390x architectures. The OS is designed for production installations.

It comes with Linux kernel 5.14. Desktop environment users get GNOME 40, which runs on Wayland by default, and the Pipewire audio server.

AlmaLinux is listed in the June 2022 version of the TOP500 Supercomputer list four times. This well-known ranking site benchmarks supercomputing systems around the world.

AlmaLinux partner Megware uses AlmaLinux in its HPC cluster installations for its hyper security. AlmaLinux provides updates and security patches very quickly, according to Megware.

Rocky Linux 9 Reproducible From Scratch

Rocky Linux 9 is more than just binaries and an installer. Its open-source roots prevent the CentOS end-of-life issues.

Developers released the Peridot version on July 14, delivering new security, application, and networking features. But the feature most taking center stage is the availability of all the build chain infrastructure tools developers would need to extend or reproduce the operating system.

That hallmark lets any other Linux developer do something independently of the community or any upstream supporting organization. That, according to its release notes, makes Rocky Linux v9 a supported enterprise Linux platform for the next decade. It uses only open-source tools to deliver a completely reproducible operating system.

Red Hat’s CentOS Linux 8 reached end of life (EOL) on Dec. 31, 2021. Red Hat chose to not continue it in favor of a rolling release OS it dubbed CentOS Stream.

With Rocky version 8, CIO developers used Koji, the Fedora build system. But CIO created version 9 as a completely cloud-native build stack called Peridot, explained Gregory Kurtzer, CEO of CIQ and founder of the Rocky Enterprise Software Foundation (RESF) in a news release. The company gave it to the RESF, which released it as open source.

“This is our commitment to our users and community from day one, ensuring that Rocky Linux will always be freely available and community controlled,” Kurtzer said.

Jack M. Germain

Jack M. Germain has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2003. His main areas of focus are enterprise IT, Linux and open-source technologies. He is an esteemed reviewer of Linux distros and other open-source software. In addition, Jack extensively covers business technology and privacy issues, as well as developments in e-commerce and consumer electronics. Email Jack.

1 Comment

  • ‘Linux Lite 6.0 Favors Google Chrome Over Firefox”

    I used to install the minimal installation of PC Linux, It didn’t even come with a browser. Basically only Synaptic, and you added the software you wanted from there or the command line, Actually I miss that, with installation media reaching 3 gigs or more I spend more time removing what I don’t want than anything. I remember when the ISO’s all fit on a single CD.
    Personally as long as Firefox or Waterfox are available, even as a tarball, that is what I will use. A must for me is the Menu bar at the top. I also use Waterfox because of no telemetry. Chrome has neither of those features.

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