back to article 'Software-defined' IS just a passing fad: HP techie Fink Tank lays down law

HP reckons this software-designed fad sweeping the storage world is just a swing of the fashion pendulum and we'll go back to hardware soon enough. Commodity public clouds haven't attracted much enterprise work and HP's Helion is well-placed for that. Martin Fink, the company's chief technology officer, presented HP's views …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Of course hardware will not go away. All that software defined X, has to run on some kind of hardware, somewhere, so hardware vendors just need to be flexible, adaptable and they will surely come out the other end as well.

    1. JeffyPoooh


      'Software - - - Hardware' is, as technology fills in the gaps, becoming a spectrum.

      You can draw as precise a line as you wish, and within a few years some new technology will be stepping all over the line and blurring it. Those of us managing systems under different rules for "hardware" and "software" begin to see this sort of thing when a new VHDL load for the FPGA arrives.

      They attempted to use "field reprogrammable" as Dividing Line Rev B, but examples popped up where it was borderline of being possible outside the factory. At first they said, No, to avoid the DO-178 "software" paperwork. But then it was suddenly Yes when they wanted to fly out to reload all the boxes to save money.

      To avoid paradoxes, acknowledge that it's a spectrum with a fuzzy middle. The sooner the better.

  2. DropBear Silver badge

    About time, too...

    ...I was beginning to think memristors are just as vapourware as the oft-announced-but-never-sold super-batteries and roll-up displays...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: About time, too...

      I'd read that they are a done deal from a technical point of view, but that there was no market imperative to bring it to market. Why sell something brand new like memristor when you can make just as much money from selling flash?

      Even when they do come to market it'll take ages before the technology is stretched at all (if the claims about petabits/cm^3 are true). Again, why sell something that is as good as you can make it? Especially when something only 1/1000th as good can be sold for just as much and you can sell it again and again through many upgrade cycles.

      Interesting that they're actually talking about memristor DIMMS. Given that memristor is apparently faster than SDRAM I wonder if anyone will stick them on DDR4 modules?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: About time, too...

        You're right, there's no incentive for HP/Hynix to roll out memristors before 2020/The Machine.

        Which is why Crossbar (RRAM) should come out and beat up the lumbering HP fail machine.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: About time, too...

        "Given that memristor is apparently faster than SDRAM I wonder if anyone will stick them on DDR4 modules?"

        Hopefully. The latency of DRAM hasn't changed significantly for 15 years (it's gone from 70ns down to ~50 at best) and substantially altering that would effectively turbocharge most computing applications.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: About time, too...

          Except I think the main reason for the latency (and the reason it hasn't changed lately) is physical (mainly, simply the time it takes the electrons to travel down the leads from memory to CPU, etc.). After all, current can only get around 7 inches (give or take) in one nanosecond, and it can't travel in a straight line.

  3. Wensleydale Cheese

    Fink Tank

    That was a pun waiting to happen.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Ummm, yeah

    So keep piling up yer Shekels. We'll have the really hot stuff fer ya in 2018. Meantime, I have this nice NetApp file for ya. Sheesh!

  5. Erik4872

    Hardware is here to stay

    The problem for HP and others is what kind of hardware will run all this software-defined stuff. If you believe all the Gartner pundits, who are breathlessly pointing at all the social media startups who have eschewed traditional hardware, then HP and the like are toast. However, like everything, I think the answer is somewhere in the middle. Large cloud providers like AWS, Azure, and so on won't be buying HP hardware -- they have their own reference designs they ship off to Joe's Server Shack, and they order 50,000 of them at a time. They also have the people to maintain said hardware in the absence of a warranty. Huge Internet properties will also follow a similar course -- Google and Facebook are always held up as examples of this.

    The things I do see becoming less relevant are extremely expensive managed storage (EMC, NetApp) and possibly networking (Cisco.) But even with that, vendors are trying to lock people into software-defined networking and compute on their blade chassis. Expensive storage will live on, but it won't be the only choice like it was in datacenters...only workloads that need that kind of uptime or performance will get it. Others can deal with software-defined storage controlling disks on a less expensive platform.

    For the average business with on-site infrastructure, HP et al still have plenty of people to sell to. Some margins will take a hit, but the business will be there.

  6. thegreatsatan

    8 Billion Reasons to Believe this

    HP is the last group that should be prognosticating on any futures. #Autonomy

  7. luis river

    Advance launching dates

    In the year 1996 the memristor development began, in 2008 its existence was demostrated, the transistor was discovered in 1948 for Bell labs, in 1957 General Electric it manufacture the first computer using transistors. The memristor roadmap seems slow but it makes certain common sense that in 2016 it offers commercially,but it is necessary to advance launching dates.

  8. 1Rafayal

    So, hardware company states that software defined things are a passing fad.


    1. P. Lee Silver badge

      > So, hardware company states that software defined things are a passing fad.

      Yes actually.

      There's always hardware, the question is whether its generic x86/AMD64 hardware or custom asics. HP has the custom ASICs for switching/routing and generic servers as well so it could easily go either way. With everyone wanting to hype the next big thing because they make money from change, it is surprising that HP comes out and says, "actually, its a bit rubbish" because most companies go with the hype regardless of the truth.

      SDx is generally going to have pretty poor performance next to custom hardware but we usually see systems developed on generic hardware and then migrating to custom hardware for speed, once the protocols and methods have been locked down. Sadly, that in itself stifles innovation because once the system is hardware defined, it becomes almost impossible to add new things because none of the existing kit can cope. That's why VP8 fails - there are too many phones and tablets which can't do it, so no-one will use it.

  9. jcrb

    Anyone notice that memrister shipments....

    are always 2+ years away.......

    just close enough they can hope to convince you not to buy something else, but just far enough that they don't have to show anything that works well enough to be a product.

    and yet every time the make an announcement people act like *this* time they really mean it.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    It's starting to sound like the Duke Nukem Forever saga. Wake me up when these things are no longer vapourware.

  11. Cloud 9

    What a Richard

    Yeah - hardware, .. when it's cheaper than SDS and scales as well.

    Until then - my wallet says software or bust.

    Regarding the Georgens comment - wishful thinking springs to mind.

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