How to be a hardware analyst…?

Eucalyptus cloud on Dell hardware

After reading an, as ever, great, deep coverage of some new fangled piece of hardware from TPM, I got to thinking: I don’t really know how hardware analysts approach their craft. What framing and context do they use to understand, evaluate, and judge any given chunk of hardware?

I’ve never been much of a hardware person (which was an odd strength while I was at Dell, being that I was there to work on software strategy). However, I keep coming across converged infrastructure companies and products that start to get my “that seems interesting” senses tingling. For example, in the piece I linked to above, it seems interesting the VMware is going to have an OCP compliant product in the market, through Quanta. I also spoke with several VCE people at VMworld, and their premium price business model is intriguing (it reminds me of the IBM model: we’ll send a plane full of people the instant you have a runny nose – which leads to lots of talk of time to value, ROI, etc.).

Being a software person and, worse, someone who was not formally trained in computer science, the only way I think about hardware is, essentially, is it faster and cheaper? Which I know is very naive.

In software, you can ask that question, but question is also more about the capabilities software gives you and how businesses either can benefit or be harmed by it (like using cloud to more quickly deliver new features to production), and “culture shifts” (like BYOD or going from Office to Google Apps, using SDN or virtualization to change how IT is architected and deployed, etc.).

Again, to me, a “software person,” any “advance” in hardware is just a question of being faster and cheaper…but I’m assuming there’s more to it.

(We discussed this in the opening of today’s Under Development podcast. Bill had some good answers.)

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