Microsoft announced the general availability of Exchange Server 2010 yesterday. For information & knowledge management professionals and for the productivity of information workers, there are five good reasons to upgrade:
Much cheaper storage. Exchange 2007 introduced a new storage model, where the email server manages direct-attached storage. Exchange 2010 extends that capability and in the words of one beta customer, "We have reduced the overall costs for our storage by 30% while increasing the usable disk space nine times." This benefit comes from using cheap direct-attached storage in lieu of storage area networks.
Support for much bigger mailboxes. Most firms limit mailbox size to 100-250 MB for good reasons: storage cost, nightly backup windows too short, eDiscovery hassles. Exchange 2010 has much faster I/O (Microsoft says 15 times faster than in Exchange 2003) and improved storage management that allows direct-attached storage and cheap disks. Net it out, and it becomes much easier to expand the mailboxes to 1-2 GB.
Cisco's John Chambers has made "collaboration" a strategy for the company's customers and employees. And enterprise GM Tony Bates is now tasked with driving that strategy. I'm writing from Cisco's launch event in San Francisco. (Well, it's actually still going on.)
There's a lot to digest and analzye, which we'll do over time. But I wanted to share some early thoughts . . .
This week's announcement marks Cisco's formal entry into the broader collaboration market, long fragmented and dominated by IBM and Microsoft for applications and by Tandberg and Polycom for video conferencing.
The company claims 61 products and features, but the key components are email, instant messaging, web conferencing, social software, and video conferencing as well as network-based services like a business TelePresence directory and policy-controlled content tagging. And in the words of Tony Bates, "a video stream runs through all of it."
Cisco's strategy for collaboration fascinates me because it's bold and frankly orthogonal to Microsoft's desktop productivity path and IBM's workgroup history. It's also enterprise-grade by default, unlike Google's consumer-first approach. But I'm fascinated and I believe IT pros should be interested in Cisco's solutions for three reasons:
What is the CIO's role in driving social media into organizations? Listening to many of our clients it seems that it is often that of "social police" - IT gets asked by legal to block any and all social media applications. While in some cases security concerns drive the decision, in others it's deemed a compliance issue. There are also those who believe blocking social media improves productivity.
The trouble with this approach is that it assumes social media can and should be stopped with technology. The fact is many people are already using web-enabled social applications in the workplace on their own personal smartphones (
Last month I had the pleasure of keynoting the "International IT Convergence Conference" in Seoul, sponsored by the Korean Ministry of Knowledge Economy. It was a fascinating combination of academic conference, government policy discussion, and technology trade show. And also my first opportunity to visit Korea.
The theme of the conference, and topic of the panel discussion I participated in, was "IT convergence." Convergence means many things to different people; in this case, convergence means the collision or combination of information technology and other industries, i.e., embedding IT capabilities in transportation, healthcare, construction, and etc. The case was well-argued by a number of speakers, and the example stories were compelling: phones becoming pocket computers, ships becoming floating computers, buildings becoming hi-rise computers, and the like. And we didn't have to stretch too far to imagine that big parts of the IT industry itself will eventually be subsumed into these other industries, becoming as important and ubiquitous -- and invisible -- as, say, electric motors.
Big opportunities for IT hardware, software, and services. But I felt it important to point out that such embedding or tailoring of IT systems into industrial and consumer systems will come with risks and challenges for IT suppliers, including:
Sourcing executives are setting their strategic direction for 2010 and beyond and increasingly asking: “What role should we play in SaaS buying decisions?”
Many sourcing executives see SaaS coming into their firms under the radar screen, through divisional, try-and-buy style purchases, often low-cost enough to go largely undetected – at least in their initial phases. However, they also see SaaS’ growing importance as a key strategic initiative in their firms and the trend towards SaaS becoming ubiquitous in the larger software market. Therefore, they want to better understand existing SaaS solutions that are being used in their firms today – where, when, why – and also understand when it makes sense to proactively push SaaS as the best overall solution based on factors such as TCO, flexibility, usability, IT staffing considerations, and upgrades.
Recently I did some interviews with consumer market researchers to better understand what’s on their minds. One of the issues that kept coming up in the conversations was around the lack of influence on the follow-up on research results. One person summed it up quite nicely: “We’ve done this great project, got valuable insights, delivered the results, discussed conclusions and possible actions, got lots of praise and then … nothing happens”. It was the biggest frustration across all researchers I've talked to: how can you make people act upon the research results?
We analysts always tend to want to be the first on the stage with impending news and blogs are a perfect medium for getting information out as quickly as possible. In fact, blogs can even sometimes be just a little ahead of the news it is predicting, and are sometimes held responsible for the said event. That is why financial analysts, when they blog, always disclose their portfolios in relation to the companies mentioned in the blog.
The IT management software and operations communities have been buzzing this week about reports that Microsoft acquired IT process automation vendor Opalis Software. We have unequivocally confirmed that this rumor is incorrect. Opalis has NOT been acquired by Microsoft. It remains an independent entity, at least for now.
Opalis, based outside of Toronto, has repeatedly reported impressive revenue growth over its short history. For the past few years, it has been a desirable morsel for larger vendors seeking to add strong process automation to their portfolios. Many have expressed interest, but its success allows Opalis to command a high premium that no suitor has yet been willing to pay.
Payment preferences still vary widely across European countries. Data from our European Technographics Retail, Customer Experience, And Travel Online Survey, Q3 2009 shows that payment patterns are partly determined by whether domestic debit cards can be used to shop online. In markets where debit cards work online, they are the most popular online payment method. In markets where debit cards don’t work online, online shoppers seek alternatives. Online payment services like PayPal are on the rise in Europe: 36% of online buyers regularly used PayPal in 2009 compared with 26% in 2006, while cash on delivery is used less.