Over the past few months a flurry of announcements have begun swirling around the cloud computing space, which remains a nascent market in the overall IT realm. Do these announcements portend a fast maturity for the concept or just the typical "me too" that comes with a hyped market?
In June, RightScale, a cloud management software and consulting company that has become a bit of a poster child as a cloud integrator, announced a partnership with GigaSpaces that integrates their eXtreme Application Platform (XAP) clustering and cache solution with the RightScale automated cloud management platform for Amazon EC2 clients. The value of this partnership comes from the fact that EC2 simply provides you with a VM you can populate but no availability or scalability services. XAP is a cluster architecture that delivers these values and can be quickly and easily deployed via the RightScale tool.
Next came Elastra, a San Francisco startup building a Cloud Server, a middleware layer that turns a commodity infrastructure into a cloud (similar value to what 3Tera provides today). The first iteration deploys similarly to XAP -- as a software layer you load into EC2 VMs, that enables scale and availability to the apps you lay on top of it.
Earlier this week, if you happened to read any of my research on our site, you might have been scratching your head at my "new" photo, as seen below:
You might have asked yourself, "What has happened to one of my favorite Forrester analysts?" Was it the result of a) a face lift; b) gender reassignment surgery; c) successful prayers to the patron saint of the un-photogenic (when a good friend first saw my original photo last year, she asked in her typical blunt fashion, "Why do you look so puffy and awful?")
In my research I tend to talk a lot about the implications of 802.11n for enterprise IT departments, however, the potential impact of the technology for smaller businesses is even more profound.
Forrester defines an enterprise as an organization with over 1,000 employees, anything smaller, and we classify it as an SMB. Our most recent Enterprise And SMB Networks And Telecommunications Survey, North America And Europe, Q1 2008 shows that, while only 10% of enterprise respondents have rolled out 802.11n networks, 15% of SMBs have taken the same step. In companies under 100 employees, adoption jumps to 30%! My hypothesis is these organizations' rapid adoption of the new standard is due to their reliance on Wi-Fi for primary network connectivity, a result of its easier and cheaper deployment across a group of users.
I am sure many of you are aware of the recent massive-scale SQL injection attacks targeting Microsoft ASP applications running on IIS. The latest report has the number of attacked sites at 500,000. The press makes it sound like there is a new vulnerability in IIS or ASP. This cannot be further from the truth. The reality is the attacks are targeting Web applications where user input validation is not done (this is one of the fundamental security programming techniques). When a Web application does not validate its form input, it is opening itself up to code injection attacks including SQL injection. Today, the security industry is doing a decent job of communicating the importance of input validation. But you'll still find many legacy Web applications that have these flaws. And this is exactly what happened here: the attackers (well, they are organized) are using Google to find old ASP pages that take user input, and are systematically going after these pages to perform SQL injection attacks.
I’ve recently returned from SAS Institute’s Annual Analyst Event held June 23-24, 2008 in Monte Carlo. At this event, SAS leadership revealed a roadmap to amplify, with the most effective decision science yet developed, the judgment of professionals in a wide range of industries including retail and consumer goods. Forrester noted specific new science based processes, deployable without restrictions about legacy transaction applications for:
Merchandise planning. The most critical decision in any consumer goods value chain is which merchandise to stock. But this decision, although ultimately driven in retail by the buyer’s judgment, must draw on data and analytics that evaluate, based on historic demand) the relative likely revenue and margin resulting from different merchandise portfolios, and test the feasibility of the portfolios against constraints such as store space or labor availability or the firm’s available working capital.
Size optimization. For retailers selling footwear or apparel a statistical understanding of the distribution of sales by size by store is vital in order to meet consumers’ needs and avoid mark downs and stock outs. It’s well known that consumers’ sizes vary from one region or country to another, with Norwegians for example in general being taller for example than Greeks but retailers need powerful sparse data analytics to plan for the differences in populations that visit urban and out of town stores.
Space optimization. Retailers provide space in stores in proportion to their expect sales and margin for each merchandise item. But the complex tradeoffs between affinity items, with different margins and attracting different promotional funds simply demand an enterprise analytic approach rather than single user planning tools.