Smart Meter In Utilities – The Lighthouse For Smart Computing

Holger Kisker

Some days ago at Forrester’s IT Forum in Lisbon (June 9-11) I gave a presentation together with my colleague Andy Bartels on the IT market recovery (we predict a 9.3% IT market growth in 2010) after two economically challenging years in 2008/9. In fact, we were making the point that the market rebound we currently see is not simply a recovery but the beginning of a new IT hyper growth phase fueled by a new wave of innovation.

A strong driver of this innovation is what we call Smart Computing at Forrester: the integration of physical world information into intelligent IT-supported business processes in 4 steps: Awareness (via new sensor technology), Analysis (with advanced BI solutions), Alternatives (including rules and process engines) and Action (in industry business applications), plus a 5th feedback loop of Auditability for tracking and learning.

A well-known example of smart computing solutions is smart metering in the Utilities industry. In another presentation in Lisbon, a colleague asked the audience, a room full with all the leading IT service companies, who all had an initiative running with smart metering – everyone in the room raised their hands. Then he asked who actually had more than 1-3 (pilot) projects running – and almost no one raised their hand.

Is smart metering just hype that everyone is jumping on or what is the reality of the lighthouse example of smart computing at this point in time?

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Why I'm Worried About Java's Future

John R. Rymer

Java's future is on my mind lately. Oracle's new ownership of Java prompts a series of "what will Larry do" questions. But more to the point, the research Mike Gualtieri and I have been doing on massively scaled systems makes me worry that Java technology has fallen behind the times.

This is not a "Java is dead" commentary but rather a discussion of issues as I see them. Java technology is alive and vitally important; we all must be concerned if its future direction isn't clear.

For me, Java's 2-gigabyte-per-JVM memory limitation symbolizes this gap. Volumes of application data are rising, but standard Java platforms still have a practical limitation of 2 GB of memory. I spoke with one customer that incorporates a search process into its app that alone requires 20 GB of memory. This customer employs servers with 6 GB of memory each but can only use this memory in 2 GB chunks, each chunk managed by a JVM in a scale-out architecture.

We've done pretty well with 2 GB JVMs until now. But as data volumes grow, this company (and others) are no longer well served by scale-out JVM architectures. Java technology should give shops the choice of scaling up the memory within an individual JVM as well. Why?

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Get A Strong Focus For Your Approach To Cloud

Randy Heffner

In discussions on cloud computing, I often talk to architects who have been told to create a "cloud strategy." This sounds appropriate enough, but there’s a devil in the details: When the task is "create a Technology X strategy," people often center strategy on the technology. With cloud, they aim to get a good definition of pure cloud and then find places where it makes sense to use it. The result is a technology strategy silo where cloud is placed at the center and usage scenarios are arranged around it. The problem with this is three-fold:

  1. Considering the full business dynamics of any given usage scenario, there is a wide continuum of often strongly competing alternatives to pure cloud (including cloud-like and traditional options).
  2. The rapid pace of market development means that business value equations along this continuum of options will keep changing.
  3. Your business needs integrated strategy for many technologies, not simply a siloed cloud strategy.
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BI Megavendors Continue To Round Out Their BI Portfolios - IBM Acquires Coremetrics

Boris Evelson

IBM announced its intentions to acquire Coremetrics, a leading Web analytics vendor, as BI megavendors continue to round out their BI portfolios (the other leading vendor in the space, Omniture, was recently picked up by Adobe). Good move, IBM. Web analytics can't really continue to exist in a silo. In order to get truly complete 360-degree view of customers, prospects and products, one needs to combine Web analytics data with ERP, CRM, HR, Financials and other transactional and analytical data sets. Currently, there are no off-the-shelf solutions that do that - it's pretty much the realm of customized offerings and systems integration. If IBM can indeed plug Web analytics into its data integration, data warehouse and BI products and solutions, it'd be quite a differentiated offering. Other large BI vendors, like Microsoft, Oracle and SAP will probably pick up one of the remaining Web analytics vendors Nedstat, Unica and Webtrends sometime soon.

A New Financial Services Survey Started

Jost Hoppermann

When designing application infrastructure strategy, planning for the renewal of their application landscape, or assessing their overall strategic position, banks and other types of firms in financial services typically like to know the answer to the question: “What are the others doing?” In the past, surveys similar to our newest financial services survey helped application delivery professionals as well as enterprise architects assess their position, for example, regarding application infrastructure strategy as well as broader application renewal initiatives and position their individual initiative in the regional or global IT and business environment.

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BI vs. Analytics

Boris Evelson

I know many of you already know my position on this, but I thought I'd get it out in the open and challenge all of you with a controversial discussion. In my definition – and believe it, I am fighting and defending it every day – analytics has always been, and will always be, part of BI. What many of the vendors and analysts describe as "the new age of analytics" I built at Citibank in the early '80s and then built in about 50+ enterprises in the '90s at PwC. I think the effort of trying to differentiate analytics from BI is a vendor-invented hype, since many BI vendors are running out of ways to differentiate themselves (and incorrectly so: see the next paragraph, and many other next-gen BI trends). I also disagree with the “old BI = bad”, “new analytics = good” premise that I see in many analysts' papers. You and I know that you can’t build analytics (OLAP, advanced analytics, etc.) without basic ETL, DW, MDM, etc. So nothing’s really changed as far as I am concerned: we are still fighting the same battles – silos, data quality, etc.

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10 Components Of A Successful BI Strategy Plan

Boris Evelson

Defining a successful BI strategy is a lot more than gathering requirements and selecting a vendor. While it’s been a subject of many books, I know few of you have time to read them, so here’s a short version.

  1. First defining what BI is and what it is not. Is it just reporting, analytics and dashboards? Or does it involve ETL, DW, portal, MDM, etc., as well?
  2. If the former, you then need to define linkages, dependencies, overlaps and integration with all of the latter (including - very importantly - integration and coordination with the higher level enterprise architecture efforts). If latter, it’s a whole different subject. You then really do need to read a few thick books.
  3. Ensure senior business executive commitment and top down mandate. If you cannot get that, do not proceed until you do. Two ways to “sell BI” to them (even though that’s not a good position to be in):
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Deltek Announces Its Intent To Acquire Maconomy: The PSA Segment Of Project-Based Solutions Is Alive And Well

Margo Visitacion

Deltek’s announcement today of its intent to acquire Maconomy has the potential to vault the vendor’s position as a potential leader in the project-based solutions (PBS) space. For midmarket organizations that deliver projects as a crucial part of their revenue generation, this is a good move.

While the focuses of the products share slight overlaps, the products themselves target different functionality and different markets. Deltek has long been a major vendor in the AEC and government contractor markets, while Maconomy, a Denmark-based PBS vendor, focuses on the public relations/advertising, legal, publishing and accounting markets.  

What’s good:

  • Few overlaps – in customers and in industries.
  • Opening doors to new regions – Deltek has limited exposure in EMEA, and Maconomy has had a very difficult time penetrating North America.
  • Mature product sets – Deltek isn’t acquiring an idea but a full blown product. This will allow them to quickly pursue new customers in expanding regions.

 

What’s going to be a challenge:

  • Create visibility in existing markets in new regions – The struggles to gain penetration in the new regions won’t get any easier for either vendor; however, the solutions’ strengths may gain them easier entry.
  • Integration – Deltek is still working through integration challenges with some of its earlier acquisitions (namely, Welcom) and now adds another platform into the mix. The positive here is that Maconomy is fully functional on its own, and we don’t expect there to be huge overlap, if any.
  • Sales integration – Opening new regions and new industries can be a tough sales training challenge. Expect a few bumps.

 

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SAPPHIRE NOW 2010 – The Quest For Innovation

Holger Kisker

 

 

 

The Name

This year SAPPHIRE officially changed its name and became SAPPHIRE NOW. Why? Different answers from different people. Those that should know said: "The new name stresses the urgency." Urgency for whom, SAP? And will the next SAPPHIRE be named SAPPHIRE THEN? Never change a successful brand.

The Event

Another premiere for SAPPHIRE was the simultaneous show in Orlando, US and Frankfurt, Germany. With 5,000 attendees in Frankfurt, 10,500 in Orlando and 35,000 online participants, this was the biggest SAPPHIRE event ever. I must admit I was concerned going to Frankfurt while everyone in Walldorf desperately tried to escape to Orlando. Who wants to attend a second-hand event? But now I’m a believer. SAP managed to balance the important parts of the show between Orlando and Frankfurt. Keynotes were held simultaneously in both locations via virtual video connection and speakers in both cities. In general I never had the feeling I would miss anything important in Frankfurt simply because it was the smaller event overall. It didn’t make a difference if I couldn’t attend another 400 presentations in Frankfurt or 800 in Orlando from the total of 1,200+ presentations – I had a packed agenda and got all that I expected and needed, including 1:1 meetings with SAP executives like Jim Snabe. The simultaneous, virtual set-up not only helped to save a lot of cost, it created a sense of a bigger virtual community and underlined SAP’s ambitions for more sustainability. To all that traveled intercontinental: Shame on you, next year stay in your home region!

The Stars

Like every show SAPPHIRE 2010 had its stars as well:

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What Do You Do If A BI Vendor Offers You A "Discount" Without Published List Prices?

Boris Evelson

By Boris Evelson

I get this request almost on a weekly basis: "Boris, my BI vendor is offering me the following discount, is it a good deal or not?" The first question is what are you comparing it to? It reminds me of an old joke: Q. How much is 5 times 5. A. Depends on whether you're buying or selling. Many of the vendors do not publish or reveal list prices, or even if they do, they are revealed only under NDA to each client, so good luck comparing what the vendor told you and what they told another client. So what ARE you comparing it to?

Another problem, IMHO, is that many of the vendors muddy the waters with CPU based prices, clock speed based prices, etc. Yes, CPU, server, core based prices make sense if you are growing and want to lock in a good deal now, before you grow and expand. But in the end, you, the buyer, still need to figure out how much the software costs you per seat, per user.  So with both of these challenges in mind I looked through my 20+ years of notes on BI contracts and per seat license costs and came up with the following. Notice, an interesting X-factor (obviously, I fixed the numbers a bit to have it look nicely like that):

  • BI output consumer, no interactivity $300
  • BI output consumer, with light (sort, filter, rank) interactivity $600 (or 2x)
  • BI output consumer with heavy interactivity (interactive dashboards, search, etc.) $1,200 (or 4x)
  • Power users (generate content) $2,400 (or 8x)
  • Developers (includes ETL, scripting, scheduling, etc.) $3,600 (12x)
  • Administrators $10,800 (36x)
  • Advanced analytics (data mining, predictive modeling) $10,000 and up.
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