We've known for a while that cloud computing is important to IBM. It seems nearly every division has an effort in some aspect of the opportunity. And marketing has done its best to make it all look cohesive by wrapping these efforts under the Blue Cloud banner. But now we know they're serious. They have finally appointed a cloud czar, Erich Clementi, to bring all these efforts together. A veteran of their Systems & Technologies Group, he led SMB solutions, and last year he also took over IBM's Enterprise Initiatives. In those roles, Erich learned how important (and challenging) it is to coordinate efforts across their massive divisions while delivering holistic value to customers. Outside of Global Services, IBM doesn't have the best track record for these coordinated efforts, but we're willing to grant Clementi a grace period to prove us wrong.
And he won't be alone, as IBM has disclosed his set of lieutenants:
This has been long rumored by Google Apps watchers, but we get confirmation today: Google is testing an offline email client. This is a Google Gmail Labs feature, which means that it's really test code for the brave. In fact, the Gmail Labs site helpfully warns that "there's an escape hatch" if a feature breaks.
That said, this is a big deal for Google. (Caveat: I haven't tested it yet, so I'll have to report back once I do). Here's what it means:
IT organizations focus on the business needs they understand, not on the ones that matter to business.
When we ask business execs and IT execs the same questions around the importance of technology to business goals, and how well IT does supporting those business goals, we get interesting results. First, business and IT see technology’s value differently: to business, the greatest value is in products and services, and in competitive differentiation, whereas to IT, the greatest value is in improving operational efficiency. But the second result is more interesting: both business and IT believe IT doesn’t do well supporting the business goals around products and services, or differentiation – but IT believes they do much worse than business believes they do.
Last week Jason Newton at HP blogged about what his company thinks (or at least wants you to think) are the hot trends in the data center for 2009. He provides a good list that's less a reflection of what enterprise customers are necessarily doing but certainly what they should be thinking. Heck, his list reflects a lot of the tactics we discuss with customers every day in our inquiries and published research, such as in "Retrofitting Your Data Center for Better Capacity".
Friday, Iron Mountain and Microsoft announced a new partnership. Customers of Microsoft's backup offering, Data Protection Manager (DPM) 2007 service pack 1, can electronically vault redundant copies of their data to Iron Mountain's CloudRecovery service. This is welcomed news for DPM customers. Customers will continue to backup locally to disk for instant restore but rather than vault data to tape and physically transport tape to an offsite storage service provider, customers will vault data over the Internet to Iron Mountain. For disaster recovery purposes and long-term retention services, you need this redundant copy of your data offsite. By eliminating the physical tape transport you eliminate the risk of lost or stolen tapes or the need to deploy some kind of tape encryption solution. Microsoft DPM hasn't taken the backup world by storm since its introduction in 2005, but each subsequent release has added critical features and application support. Additionally, because it is often bundled in with Microsoft System Center, I expect adoption will increase among small and medium businesses (SMBs) and small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
2008 was tumultuous year for Interactive Marketing professionals. You had to promote digital efforts internally, make the case for emerging channels, and re-evaluate your plans as the economy soured -- all while continuing to deliver exciting interactive campaigns to your customers. You've told us that the hurdles will still be there in 2009. At Forrester, we're committed to helping you address them. Tell us your biggest challenge, and we'll write research to help you overcome it.
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Microsoft announced today that it is discontinuing the Microsoft Office PerformancePoint Server product. The business performance monitoring and analytics capabilities of PerformancePoint will be bundled into the SharePoint Server enterprise license (CAL) going forward, and no longer sold separately. The planning and budgeting capability of PerformancePoint will see a midyear enhancement that is already in the works, and then put into support mode. Existing PerformancePoint customers will receive support on these products for 10 years. Another element of the announcement is the return of FRx reporting and forecasting capabilities to the Microsoft Dynamics business applications group.
After investing heavily in the development and launch of PerformancePoint over the past 3 years, it is a major shift in strategy for Microsoft to essentially kill off the product initiative. Its rationale is that the goal is to make business performance monitoring and analytics pervasive across the enterprise, and SharePoint is the best vehicle to carry this functionality. Microsoft expects that bundling these capabilities at no additional cost within the SharePoint enterprise license will accelerate sales of SharePoint, including upgrades from the standard license. Planning, meanwhile, is seen as a Finance desk application that is not part of the SharePoint strategy.
I'll be attending the World Economic Forum in Davos next week -- look for posts here as I gather up blasts of insight from the gathering.
I'm running a session on January 29th at Davos that will analyze how social computing will transform corporations and markets. Discussion leaders will be: Michael Arrington, TechCrunch, Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia, Robert Scoble of Fast Company TV, Reid Hoffman of LinkedIn, Matt Cohler of Benchmark Capital (late of Facebook), and others.
We're going to be working to answer the questions listed below.
Big news in the information management world today – Autonomy announced it will acquire Interwoven for $775 million.
Since 2005, Autonomy has acquired technology for search (Verity), archiving (ZANTAZ), and records management (Meridio). With Interwoven, Autonomy gains a technology foothold where it was previously weakest -- at the point where digital content gets created, captured, and managed. Yet knowing Autonomy, it’s likely after Interwoven’s solid customer base in several niche market segments: law firms and customer-facing media, entertainment, and commerce Web sites. All of these Interwoven customers had better prepare for a knock on the door from Autonomy reps prepared to sell them on the virtues of extracting “meaning” from their digital information (using Autonomy IDOL, of course).
Enterprise search and enterprise content management are two sides of a coin. Both are necessary to create, manage, store, find and analyze information. Yet information workers still generate an enormous amount of content in word processing applications and distribute it via email. Content created in this way is difficult to manage and control as well as difficult to find. The high price Microsoft paid for FAST Search and Transfer last year was based in part on the expected value of combining the two sides of the coin — to tightly integrate search and classification capabilities at the point where content is created and accessed. Autonomy brings more sophisticated — and much needed — archiving and records management capabilities to this picture.