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Showtime #2: HPE, Pure Accelerate and FinOPsX – Infrastructure Matters, Episode 45

Showtime #2: HPE, Pure Accelerate and FinOPsX - Infrastructure Matters, Episode 45

In this episode of Infrastructure Matters, hosts Krista Macomber, Steven Dickens, and Camberley Bates discuss their busy week attending various tech conferences. We hear highlights from HPE Discover, emphasizing HPE’s advancements in AI and their collaboration with Nvidia. An inside look at Pure Accelerate 2024, focusing on AI, cybersecurity, and application modernization. The episode concludes with reflections on the FinOps X conference and the growing importance of financial operations in the tech industry.

Key topics include:

  • HPE Discover showcased HPE’s private cloud AI solutions and partnership with Nvidia.
  • Pure Accelerate highlighted AI, cybersecurity, and storage optimization efforts.
  • Pure Storage’s new hardware developments include customized flash drives.
  • FinOps X emphasized standardizing financial operations data collection.
  • Google integrates AI into its FinOps tools, leveraging its Gemini technology.

You can watch the video of our conversation below, and be sure to visit our YouTube Channel and subscribe so you don’t miss an episode.

Listen to the audio here:

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Disclosure: The Futurum Group is a research and advisory firm that engages or has engaged in research, analysis, and advisory services with many technology companies, including those mentioned in this webcast. The author does not hold any equity positions with any company mentioned in this webcast.

Analysis and opinions expressed herein are specific to the analyst individually and data and other information that might have been provided for validation, not those of The Futurum Group as a whole.

Transcript:

Krista Macomber: Hello and welcome to Infrastructure Matters number 45. I’m Krista Macomber and I’m here with my wonderful co-hosts, Steven Dickens and Camberley Bates. Good morning, Steven and Camberley. I know you both have had a big week on the road. Steven, I know you’re out in Las Vegas, so we’re recording quite early your time. And Camberley, I know you were wrapping up at an event and kind of attending a concert last night, so excited to kind of get into it this morning.

Camberley Bates: Here we are.

Steven Dickens: Busy week.

Krista Macomber: Here we are.

Steven Dickens: Busy week.

Krista Macomber: Right.

Steven Dickens: I’m in San Diego, not in Las Vegas because-

Krista Macomber: Oh, that’s-

Steven Dickens: Only wimps do one tech conference in a week. You’ve got to do at least two to be hardcore in this company.

Krista Macomber: Exactly, exactly. And needing to fly, because I know there was two events in Vegas that were down the street from each other, so that’s too easy. Right, Steven? We got to make sure that we fly.

Steven Dickens: Oh, yeah. I mean I couldn’t do what Daniel and Patrick did and just walk down the street to the second event. I had to jump on a plane. I did get to breakfast with my bestie though. We had breakfast on Wednesday.

Camberley Bates: All righty, but I landed at 4:30. My husband picked me up and we went to the Rolling Stones concert last night, so there you go.

Steven Dickens: I got to see Dead & Company in the Sphere, so we’ve had an action packed week.

Krista Macomber: So yeah, so why don’t we get into it? So Steven, why don’t we kick it off with you? I know earlier this week for your first event you were at HPE Discover, so why don’t you talk to us a little bit. I know you said it was the best keynote you’ve ever been to. Quite an exciting venue and certainly some big announcements coming out of the show. So why don’t we kick it off there?

Steven Dickens: Well, let’s kick off with talking about the keynote. So HPE became the first tech vendor to have their keynote in the Sphere. I’ve not been to the Sphere before. Fantastic facility. Jim Jackson and the team, Antonio told us the story of how they at last discovered, toured the facility while it was being built, and it instantly committed. I think we’re going to be there at least 10 times next year because every CEO and every CMO of every big tech company who has their conference in Vegas is going to have seen that, want to be on that stage. So kudos to Jim Jackson and the HPE events team first off for just the hosting of the event.

And then, I mean Antonio’s not a razzmatazz, Antonio Neri that is, the CEO, he’s not a razzmatazz big stage speaker, but he did an excellent job of positioning HPE and why they’re relevant in the AI space. The big announcement, and he had Jensen and his leather jacket join the stage, that leather jacket’s got more air miles than I think Taylor Swift this year. But seriously, really impactful conversation about where HPE with its private cloud AI and its really opinionated and curated deployment of AI infrastructure. They’ve really got this down to T-shirt sizing now, small, medium, large, extra large. Back to talking about hardware, really tight integration with Nvidia, and even so much so that in the one to sort of analyst session with Antonio, I asked him the question, “You’ve rotated here to Nvidia. What about Intel and AMD?”

And he was very specific and very direct in his answer to me, which was it’s not about the silicon, it’s the software. CUDA is where the development community and this community is going to be with regards to AI and that’s why they’re partnering. So really tight integration with Nvidia. There was other announcement to ops ramp, compute ops management, some announcements there from Justin McGarry and his team that we’d worked on, so great to see those on the show floor and coming to market. But I think the private cloud AI announcement overshadowed the entire show. And I think as we get to the deployment phase of AI and we’re now starting to get to scale, really interesting to see where HPE is going to play in all of that.

Krista Macomber: Well, and especially I love the concept of the T-shirt sizing, and I think that’s going to be very useful because I think organizations have really been trying to figure out not only how are they going to be using AI in terms of the business use cases, but also really what do they need in terms of the infrastructure, the software to really be able to build out and support their particular implementation. So if HPE has at least been able to sort of, like you mentioned, Steven, create some of these prepackaged, at least as a starting point, I could see that being very useful.

Steven Dickens: Yeah, I think a lot of enterprise architects know they need to do AI. A lot of infrastructure teams know they’re going to be implementing an AI project, but I genuinely believe that maybe you’re at Citibank, maybe you’re at Wells Fargo, maybe you’re at Walmart and you’ve got a team that can get your head around all of this and build your own and roll your own stack. But I’ve positioned maybe even as much as 95% of the clients are, I know I’ve got to do it. I don’t know how to do it. I don’t know how to architect it. This is a new workload, I need help. And HPE stepped in there not just with help and a consulting engagement like a lot of others, they stepped in and said, “We’ve done this, we’ve done the work of the enterprise architect. This is what you need.” I think that’s really powerful for customers.

Krista Macomber: Absolutely. And so I know I was not at the show, but I did get a chance to connect with a journalist friend over at TechTarget. He actually sat in at HPE Discover on a presentation that Zerto made. And I’d be really interested to get your perspective on this, Steven, because it tied into… So obviously the gen AI stuff we just talked about obviously is a big focus area for the market as a whole, right? Another thing that we’ve seen that I imagine HPE is navigating as well is the acquisition of VMware by Broadcom and sort of how customers are reevaluating the placement of their current workloads. Are they going to stay on a VMware virtualized environment?

Are they going to migrate off of that? As they consider new workloads, the pricing model, is that going to cause them to reconsider where they’re deploying new workloads? And Zerto had a session regarding they now support KVM, and really from my perspective, the big takeaway is that they’re looking to help customers if they want to migrate from VMware to a different hypervisor to a different type of infrastructure entirely. Or if they want to sort of even test out what it would look like to either migrate or deploy a workload on a different environment.

Zerto is stepping the table and saying, “We have the data migration capabilities to support that.”

It’s something that I also heard a couple of weeks ago when I was at the VeeamON Conference as well. So it’s something that it sounds like at HPE Discover, it wasn’t necessarily a huge emphasis. And similarly for VeeamON, it wasn’t the central point of the show by any means, but they kind of are making sure to make the point and making sure to sort of be present with customers and sort of say, we can help you here. So I’d be curious in your perspective on that, Steven, if you heard anything else kind around that area at the show as well.

Steven Dickens: Yeah, so Keith Townsend, one of our colleagues who’s writing a research note on HPE launched their HPE virtualization, and that’s a packaged and curated KVM. I’m kind of conflicted here. Yes, hypervisors is part of the VMware stack, the classic sort of ESX, and this will be a comparison to that, but the VMware stack is so much more than just a hypervisor these days. It’s become an entire deployment architecture with all the surrounding tooling for networking and storage and management. And so I understand why HPE has done what it’s done, but I mean enterprises have had the option to go and get KVM from somebody, download it. There’s providers out there that’ll give you a support contract for open source.

So yes, I see it. Yes, I can see in the SMB space, maybe they get some people to pick this up. Maybe if you’re completely invested in the GreenLake stack and you are a single sole supplier and you’ve not got any VMware on the public cloud and it’s just purely an on-premises stack with KVM and you want to consume that from HP and get that all supported, they’ve done the tooling into ops ramp, they’ve done the tooling into computer ops management. So yes, there is some value add there from HPE rather than just a sort of KVM. I don’t see that as a competitor though, to a complete VMware stack at enterprise scale for sure.

Camberley Bates: Right. So we had some of those discussions at Pure Accelerate as well on their conference that I was at, and that was around about and similar to what HPE is saying, it’s like, okay, so we’ll support you wherever you’re going and making sure that they’re communicating to them to say, “If you’re going to stay on VMware, we’re here. If you’re going to migrate to a new platform, we’re here. If you’re going to do,” which I think a lot of folks are doing, “If you’re going to go to the containers Kubernetes space, we’re here. If you need to support multiple environments, we’re here.”

And then you’re right, HPE took it another step to say, “We’re going to have our own distribution out here that will support you with KVM.” But I think the bigger thing for the enterprise IT organizations is not yes, feature function kind of thing, which KVM is not quite all there, but it’s a bigger part of that migration is going to be processes, procedures, and skills, which is a huge investment in terms of all that operational stuff that you’re talking about. And if HPE is investing in those operational capabilities of helping them migrate that space, that’s a big deal. That would be a big deal.

Steven Dickens: Well, the one for me, and I asked the question, and I don’t think I’ve got a solid answer, is I don’t think many of the large enterprises are complete wall-to-wall HPE. They’re going to be HPE, they’re going to be Dell, they’re going to Lenovo, they’re going to have somebody else in there. Then they’re going to have some stuff on maybe Azure, and they’re going to have some stuff on GCP or AWS. I think what VMware has done over the years is become that multi-cloud, multi-platform layer for virtualization and tooling and management, network and storage.

Yeah, I see challenges once you get into a multi-cloud, multi-vendor space with a hardware vendor’s version of KVM. I mean, I didn’t mention it because it wasn’t a big play for HPE, I think it kind of came out as a sort of position against where they are and what’s going on in the market. But I think where I was really impressed with HPE was this private cloud AI deployment space. I’m kind of on the fence, if you will, on where they are on the virtualization piece.

Krista Macomber: That’s fair. And so Camberley, you mentioned Pure Accelerate, so that’s probably a great transition. So what else did you see and hear this week while you were there?

Camberley Bates: Well, there was quite a bit, actually. The Pure Accelerate, Pure Storage conference was literally a mile. I don’t even know if it was a mile down the road from where HPE was at. We were at the Las Vegas Resort. It’s a Hilton property. Really nice event, and it was good to catch up with the folks there. It’s been a couple of years since I’d been at the conference with them.

Charlie Giancarlo kicked it off. Well, actually, Lynn Lucas, their new CMO kicked it off. One kind of cute item that was going on is that the stage that we were on in the keynote had this turntable kind of thing that would turn around. So they would start the music and the turntable would turn around and the person would be riding on the turntable to show up in the front. Well, as you all know, Pure Storage is all about solid state and getting rid of disc drives.

Steven Dickens: Getting rid of spinning discs and they put the CEO on a spinning disc. Oh, that’s funny.

Camberley Bates: It’s the last disc he’s going to be on, something like that.

Steven Dickens: Did they mention that on the stage or was it-

Camberley Bates: Oh yeah, there was a ongoing kind of joke about it-

Steven Dickens: Oh geez…

Camberley Bates: But at the same time, got this kind thing going on.

Steven Dickens: That’s funny.

Camberley Bates: So it kind of gave a little bit of humor to it. I also appreciated this because it was on Juneteenth, and Lynn did kick it off with a tribute to our African-American friends and the community, et cetera, before even going into it. So it’s a nice statement about who they are and what they are and what they represent.

Steven Dickens: HPE did the same, actually, they did a session with us analysts. They had a really fantastic female photographer who’d been out and she’d captured pictures of slavery around the world and really compelling conversation. It was respectful of Juneteenth. So yeah, worth mentioning that also as well, just to give props to HPE.

Camberley Bates: Yeah. They didn’t give an official number, but there was probably about 3,000 people there, which is a good size crowd, 1,000 customers probably. The rest are a lot of partners that are there because they’re a 100% channel partner company. Also, one of the other things that they’re very, very proud of is their NPS score. And their NPS score, I believe is 82. It’s very, very high. And this just is kind of up front and center considered one of the high… I think it’s maybe the highest around anyway.

So the big themes there, no surprise here, AI, cybersecurity, application modernization, hybrid cloud, and managing hybrid cloud optimization. There was no really big, huge, massive announcements, a lot of great additions to their portfolio. Kind of focused in on this concept that we’ve got to get out of this completely siloed area. We’ve got to get away from completely manual operations, which we’re still in, the complexity, the disruptive upgrades, which they’ve always been very, very focused on. And talking about having a united storage network.

And similar to what we’ve heard from some other people, this is this platform kind of concept where I can manage cloud, I can manage on-prem. I have a single layer, it’s Fusion and Purity, which is the name of their products, their software products that are above it, that I can manage the operationals, I can decide, I can have similar processes that go across the different protocols or the different placement of where the storage is and streamline and operate, as he said, operate as a fleet. And so they’ve continued to build on top of that. They were the first doing what they call the Evergreen, the non-disruptive upgrade to operations.

And then they added the Purity many years later, or not many years later, which is the operating system for the unified space. And they’ve added fusion to be global policy management and be able to plan and manage the fleet. So you’ve got this network of cloud storage offerings that are there. A couple of announcements that I’ll kind of touch on that they had, I’m going to look at my notes here really quick so I don’t forget stuff. As other people, they’ve announced they’re Nvidia SuperPOD certification that’s going to be here in the second half of 2024. Really important. They did do what I considered a pretty significant statement for Portworx. It may sound pretty small, but it’s not.

They’ve got more integration now with the Purity software, which is going to be bringing more also security management and multi-tenancy. And whenever you get into Kubernetes, especially since they are pretty strong in MSPs or cloud service providers, having multi-tenancy capability is really, really super important. So that’s what they’re bringing to that to ease that. And on the cyber resiliency, they have this security assessment and they’re announcing some new security assessment recommendations where they’re going to go in and the system will assess where you are, give you some grades. They show to the screen about here’s where to go. Okay, click here, here’s what you want to do, or here’s what the recommended areas are. So there’s a whole lot of additional support that they’re providing you for cybersecurity, not just hardening the environment, but also providing you the cybersecurity area.

Krista Macomber: So Camberley, is that, for example, looking at the Pure Storage environment and how it’s configured?

Camberley Bates: Mm-hmm.

Krista Macomber: Okay. Okay.

Camberley Bates: All of that, yes. Do you have your snapshots or all your availability capabilities kicked in, et cetera, those kind of items. It’s really good to see. Another item, I had an opportunity to sit down with the cloud block storage people and talk about that. Cloud block storage is what sits on Azure and AWS and their cloud environment. And one of the things, and this gets into, you’re talking about finops here, or we’re going to talk about that in a second, is the standard block stores that you get from Azure or AWS does not have all the data efficiencies or the data reduction capabilities. They don’t usually have decent snapshotting kind of stuff. So it gets very bloated and very big and very expensive.

What they are finding quite a bit of success with is customers with Azure and working with Azure with customers that are needing to get more efficiency of their data storage up there because it’s one of the things that’s causing problems with people staying in the cloud is the cost of that storage. So if they can help out with not only streamline the cost of the storage as well as having that on-prem with that unified kind of capability that they bring to the market, it’s a very, very nice value proposition that they bring to the market. And the last really cool thing I will mention is that they started making their own flash drive environment. So they have their customized hardware now. So, Coz was up there, last year he was up there with a 3D printed 150 terabyte drive.

Yes, 150 terabyte drive. That was 3D last year. So this year he came up with the real drive and he said, “This is the real one.” And then he pulls out and he goes, “And this is the 300 3D printed drive, 300 terabyte.” So I mean, what they’re looking at is they are driving capacity, understand that very, very strategically have invested in the hardware development. I think we should give them a significant competitive advantage over the long haul. They’ve got the software to manage to the QLC, they’ve got the software to manage to all the things that you have to do when you’ve got these very large capacity drives. Over time, it should be a significantly competitive advantage.

Steven Dickens: I remember when 300 terabytes used to be kind of two racks worth of spinning disc.

Camberley Bates: And now it was like-

Steven Dickens: I’m aging myself now. Seriously though, I mean that’s 20 years ago.

Camberley Bates: Yeah, that’s impressive.

Steven Dickens: That’s only 20 years ago that 300 terabytes was a big storage array and it was kind of a couple of racks worth of space.

Camberley Bates: Yeah. And there’s other announcements like they showed us their beta for the AI copilot for storage, which we’re seeing a lot of folks doing this. They’ll probably roll it out as a GA at the end of the year or the beginning of next year once they get all of the hallucinations out, which everybody has to do, right? You got to wait till you get and you make sure that you’re not telling somebody to do something that’s not right. So there’s a bunch of those kind of announcements that they’re out. It just builds on the strength of the offerings that they bring to market.

Steven Dickens: Fantastic.

Krista Macomber: Yeah. Excellent. Thank you, Camberley. And one more event to cover here. So Steven, why don’t you take us home with FinOps X, which you’re there. As you mentioned, you’re in San Diego right now at the conference.

Steven Dickens: It’s been nice to be able to be outside after being in Vegas the early part of the week.

Krista Macomber: Yes.

Steven Dickens: So yeah, FinOps X, that’s a Linux Foundation collaborative project, the FinOps community, and this is their community event. This isn’t a vendor event. I was chatting to Jevin Jensen from IDC last night. He tracks this space for those guys. And he’s counted on tracking 80 different vendors that are in this space. And a third of those vendors, kudos to him for tracking this, are under 15 million of revenue. So this is an expanding space. Google are here, Microsoft are here, AWS are here, NetApp are here, Oracle are here, IBM are here. And that’s why I came. This is now the third year of this event. The certified community has grown from 11,000 people certified last year to 22,000 people certified this year. So this community is really starting to dig in. They’re really starting to codify what finops actually means and what you need to measure.

And probably the biggest community announcement is what’s called FOCUS. So in the same way that OTel in the observability space has standardized what you collect and how you collect it, the finops community is doing the same. So previously this was go get information, everybody would collect it in a different way. Then a finops practitioner had to do data management to get everything to line up before then they could do any analysis. The FOCUS 1.0 spec is really a community effort that crucially AWS, Google, and Microsoft have all signed up to now. All the way you collect financial information from those clouds and other places is all going to be standardized. Really early doors with this, but I think it’s going to be crucial as a foundational layer for those vendors to be able to then add value higher up in the stack and not be focused on how they collect data and manipulate that base level data.

So kudos to the community. That’s hard work to get 80 different vendors and various different cloud providers to all just agree. So that’s what communities are really good at. So that’s the first piece of kudos to J.R. Storment who leads the community here and kicked off with the keynote yesterday. I spent some time with Google yesterday, Sarah McMullin, who leads finops for them. Really fascinating to understand how they’re bringing Gemini to their portfolio. I’m able to talk about it because while we’re recording before the embargo, this will publish after the embargo. So I’ll be able to talk about it and I’m writing a research note on it later today. This is bringing Gemini to the finops portfolio. And I think this is indicative where I see Google being able to innovate with its services. Where some of the other cloud providers have got third party relationships with their AI providers, Amazon’s doing a great job of bring your own LLM.

Microsoft have got the relationship with OpenAI. Google have got a really tight integration. So Gemini, just coming to the finops piece, being able to analyze and provide and interact in a natural language, I see that as a really tight integration. It’s going to give them a competitive position. I’ve got to dig into the press release. They haven’t sent it me yet. We had a really good discussion, Sarah and I yesterday, but I need to get into the specifics more of what they’ve enacted. But I think what I took away was the work that the Google team’s been doing around focus and their commitment to focus, but also what they’re doing to natively and intrinsically embed AI into their tools. And I think you’re going to see this. We were talking about how Gemini is embedded in Gmail.

You’re just going to see this embedding of AI in Google services and their portfolio at probably a deeper level of integration than you’re going to see in other cloud platforms. So I think that’s what I took away, huge roadmap for Google. So they’re really investing in this space, and I think that’s good for clients because the other key takeaway from the conferences, this space is maturing. The practitioner, what is finops was really great presentations by Disney and Uber in the keynote about what they’ve been doing. This practice I think has now matured within the enterprise and it’s kind of well understood. So the sort of key takeaway was they’re not having to explain what finops is anymore, about how you deploy it. I mean just directionally really sort of fascinated to see where this community’s going.

Krista Macomber: Absolutely.

Steven Dickens: I’m glad to be my final conference before I can get to go home and spend some time at home.

Camberley Bates: Yes.

Steven Dickens: So I’m dragging myself to the end of the week and then I’m flying home this afternoon.

Krista Macomber: Good, good, good. I know, this whole month has been crazy for the conferences, so hopefully everybody can get some time back at home over the next few weeks to really enjoy the summer…

Steven Dickens: What are we going to talk about next week? There’s no events next week.

Camberley Bates: We’ll talk about one of the trends that we’re seeing.

Krista Macomber: Exactly. Exactly. Do a look back on all the events and everything.

Camberley Bates: Great.

Krista Macomber: Perfect. All right, well, Camberley, Steven, thank you so much as always. Steven, safe travels back this afternoon. And thank you to our audience, everyone for joining. Again, this has been Infrastructure Matters. Please make sure to like and subscribe so you don’t miss any future episodes. Make sure to leave us some comments for any feedback, any topics you’d like to see us cover over the next several weeks. We’d love to hear from you. And with that, we will see you on the next episode.

Author Information

With a focus on data security, protection, and management, Krista has a particular focus on how these strategies play out in multi-cloud environments. She brings approximately a decade of experience providing research and advisory services and creating thought leadership content, with a focus on IT infrastructure and data management and protection. Her vantage point spans technology and vendor portfolio developments; customer buying behavior trends; and vendor ecosystems, go-to-market positioning, and business models. Her work has appeared in major publications including eWeek, TechTarget and The Register.

Prior to joining The Futurum Group, Krista led the data center practice for Evaluator Group and the data center practice of analyst firm Technology Business Research. She also created articles, product analyses, and blogs on all things storage and data protection and management for analyst firm Storage Switzerland and led market intelligence initiatives for media company TechTarget.

Krista holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Journalism with a minor in Business Administration from the University of New Hampshire.

Camberley brings over 25 years of executive experience leading sales and marketing teams at Fortune 500 firms. Before joining The Futurum Group, she led the Evaluator Group, an information technology analyst firm as Managing Director.

Her career has spanned all elements of sales and marketing including a 360-degree view of addressing challenges and delivering solutions was achieved from crossing the boundary of sales and channel engagement with large enterprise vendors and her own 100-person IT services firm.

Camberley has provided Global 250 startups with go-to-market strategies, creating a new market category “MAID” as Vice President of Marketing at COPAN and led a worldwide marketing team including channels as a VP at VERITAS. At GE Access, a $2B distribution company, she served as VP of a new division and succeeded in growing the company from $14 to $500 million and built a successful 100-person IT services firm. Camberley began her career at IBM in sales and management.

She holds a Bachelor of Science in International Business from California State University – Long Beach and executive certificates from Wellesley and Wharton School of Business.

Regarded as a luminary at the intersection of technology and business transformation, Steven Dickens is the Vice President and Practice Leader for Hybrid Cloud, Infrastructure, and Operations at The Futurum Group. With a distinguished track record as a Forbes contributor and a ranking among the Top 10 Analysts by ARInsights, Steven's unique vantage point enables him to chart the nexus between emergent technologies and disruptive innovation, offering unparalleled insights for global enterprises.

Steven's expertise spans a broad spectrum of technologies that drive modern enterprises. Notable among these are open source, hybrid cloud, mission-critical infrastructure, cryptocurrencies, blockchain, and FinTech innovation. His work is foundational in aligning the strategic imperatives of C-suite executives with the practical needs of end users and technology practitioners, serving as a catalyst for optimizing the return on technology investments.

Over the years, Steven has been an integral part of industry behemoths including Broadcom, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), and IBM. His exceptional ability to pioneer multi-hundred-million-dollar products and to lead global sales teams with revenues in the same echelon has consistently demonstrated his capability for high-impact leadership.

Steven serves as a thought leader in various technology consortiums. He was a founding board member and former Chairperson of the Open Mainframe Project, under the aegis of the Linux Foundation. His role as a Board Advisor continues to shape the advocacy for open source implementations of mainframe technologies.

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