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).
You've probably seen them by now--the guys standing by the roadside waving big signs that exclaim "Going Out Of Business!" and promise savings of 50-70% on electronics and appliances. That's right, Circuit City is now the latest victim of the recession of 2008-2009.
Or is it?
Do you remember back in March 2007 when Circuit City committed one of the biggest public relations blunders ever done by a major corporation? At that time, the company was feeling some financial and competitive stress, so it decided to layoff 3,400 of its highest paid sales staff and replace them with lower paid workers. Rather cynically, the company said that experienced workers could reapply for their jobs if they were interested in working at the lower salary.
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.
Tuesday, January 20th, Riverbed Technology announced its acquisition of Mazu Networks for $25 million in cash with the possibility of an additional payment up to $22 million if future sales meet or exceed $35 million in the 12 months after closing. Mazu, which provides an application and device performance monitoring and reporting solution, will be integrated with Riverbed's current WAN Optimization offering to provide a more comprehensive solution for enterprises. In addition, the move also shows a competitive response to Blue Coat Systems' acquisition of Packeteer last year.
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.
In his inaugural address, Barack Obama told us it's "..time to put aside childish things." A country that once showed greatness through youthful exuberance is being asked to show greatness through measured maturity. It's a moment of realization. And a time of challenge.
Microsoft has announced that it intends to lay off up to 5000 employees over the next 18 months. For those of us who have chosen this industry as our career home, layoffs are nothing new. We live in a cyclical world and nowhere is the cycle more evident than in the computer industry, where companies are constantly appearing out of nowhere, growing, shrinking, acquiring and being acquired.
But this is different. This is the latest sign of a sea change in our industry. The best and brightest minds in the industry saw this coming. Steve Jobs saw it when he turned Apple Computer into Apple and turned tech into "tech fashion." Larry Ellison saw it when he began to acquire players that would make Oracle an indispensable piece of corporate infrastructure and at the same time established a more predictable maintenance revenue stream to Oracle.
Many years ago as I started researching and analyzing the differences between major BI vendors, one criterion that I always used was whether these vendors ate their own dog food. In other words, did a vendor executive team use the same solutions for data collection, building metrics and dashboards to run their own companies that they also tried to sell to their clients? Those who did tended to score higher in my evaluations.
The same guiding principle is applicable to Forrester: you have to eat your own dog food in order to convince the clients to buy your products and services. Hence, our methodologies, such as Forrester Waves are completely open and transparent (thank you, Doug Henschen, for recognizing this in your recent blog), and we encourage our clients to challenge us on every point made in our Waves.
The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that, while we continue to hear stories of layoffs, "consolidation", and dire financial straits IT pros are faring quite well. According to a study conducted by employment site Dice.com, IT pros saw an average salary increase of 4.6% last year over 2007. Whether that type of jump will occur throughout 2009 is up for debate and doubtful, it does seem that businesses are recognizing IT professionals for the work that they're doing to help bring efficiency and savings to the business. Good news for IT pros casting a wary eye on the road ahead in 2009.
I reported recently on the fact that spending in IT seems alive and well, based on research I conducted using data from our IT readership panel. Areas such as networking, virtualization, and consolidation are seeing budgets increase in 2009, all in an effort to continue the momentum of IT-drive bottom-line improvements.
Business says it wants to be more involved with technology decision-making – taking a more leadership role especially when it comes to solutions with direct business benefit. And if business acts on this desire by working with IT the way we’ve wanted, this is all to the good. But we have to recognize that the more they care – for example if they are in product development or sales – the less likely they are going to want to work with us in the way we wanted – via steering committees, architecture review boards, and formalized project proposal processes. To them, it might appear easier to use SAAS offerings, or contract for or develop their own solutions – and they may have a point. Many of the efficiencies centralized IT can provide count less when using cloud-based services and newer, more end-user friendly tools. And if IT won’t support them because they are off the ‘approved technology’ ranch – well, they have alternatives.