At the beginning of this decade HP put forth a vision for the future data center that they have now fulfilled with both products and services offerings. Viewed by some at the time as a reaction to IBM Applications on Demand, HP coined Adaptive Infrastructure as its vision for a "composable" data center that let resources be quickly and easily assigned to business services based on their needs and for IT Ops to achieve and maintain high utilization of their data center resources.
During the last three months I have been talking to many people on what a software development process looks like to them in the 21st century — you have seen some of the initial thoughts and ideas posted in this blog. The community seems full of different views as to what makes a process, or even if process, as we currently think of it, is right for software development teams.
It is clear that software development is NOT the same as other manufacturing processes, and that organizations that approach software development in that manner do not exploit the opportunity for innovation or develop an efficient process.
In the pursuit of building better software, it has always been the belief of most senior managers that if you have a good process you will get great software; that problems with software can be attributed to problems with process. Many people are now questioning that traditional mindset, believing that changing the tasks, work products, and responsibilities within the process does not lead to success, but a focus on culture, knowledge, and skills will instead improve the end product. This change in emphasis is embodied by the Agile methods movement and described nicely in one principle in the Agile manifesto ‘Individuals and interactions over process and tools’.
I’ve been seeing a mushrooming of requests from Forrester’s CIO clients for IT spending benchmarks. These CIOs attempt to defend their budgets against repeated requests to cut, cut, cut. Their hope is that a spending benchmark will show that their budgets are reasonable given their size and industry – giving them ammo to fend off perceptions that “our IT spending must be too high.”
What I tell these CIOs is that spending benchmarks are only a first step in determining the appropriateness of IT budgets – and not a simple one at that. The reality is that a benchmark tells you only what you are spending in relation to the average of a group of ‘similar’ companies. (see Forrester’s “US IT Spending Benchmarks For 2008”). It really tells you nothing about whether it is the right or wrong amount, whether it’s being spent on the right things, or what benefits you are getting from this investment. And what constitutes a ‘similar’ company is not straight-forward: is it just same size/same industry? Same georgraphy? Same business operating model or strategy? Same prospects for growth or contraction? These are all business characteristics, but what about IT characteristics like the degree of automation, use of packaged versus custom software, outsourcing or history of past M&As?
As we enter a new year, business process & applications professionals who want to stay ahead of the pack need to know what to expect in 2009. Uncertain economic times lie ahead, and those professionals who know what is on the horizon will best weather the storm. Here are some key trends in key process and app areas that our analysts predict for 2009:
Financial Performance Management: Financial management professionals stand in the spotlight as the economic downturn continues and companies cope with weaker demand, price pressures, rising costs, and credit constraints. Technology and process strategies in 2009 will focus on improving planning, budgeting and forecasting, and cash and risk management while under the cloud of a very uncertain and unfavorable tax environment.
At Forrester, we're always looking for new ways to engage with our readers. Most often, our written research into workplace trends and technologies is the catalyst for this engagement. But we're also coming to realize that the way Information Management professionals consume research is changing.
For better or worse, you have more devices, more tools for connecting with others, more information, and less time to sort through it all. As a result, we're now offering Forrester podcasts for information management professionals via this blog and iTunes. While an admittedly traditional analyst like myself still considers Forrester’s rich data and reports to be the "gold standard" of our research investments, we're committed to helping clients fit their use of research into their busy schedules. To this end:
Nortel’s future does not look bright. It admitted to huge financial reporting misstatements in 2002 and 2003, and the Canadian federal police are pursuing the former CEO, CFO, and comptroller for fraud. Nortel has lost more than $7 billion since CEO Mike Zafirovski took over in 2005. Competitors like Cisco and Juniper have been gaining share and new ones like Huawei have emerged. Since 2005, Cisco’s revenues have grown by almost 60%, Huawei’s have more than doubled, and we estimate that Juniper’s revenue has grown by well over 40% over the same three year period. In contrast, Nortel’s revenues have declined. During this time, Nortel’s share price has dropped by 90%. Nortel is losing share in the IPT market and the overall economic climate will clearly affect telecom hardware purchasing. All of this makes Nortel’s recovery even more difficult ¬— despite having $2.4 billion in cash on hand.
Here’s another follow-up to our recent jam session on how to use Lean as an opportunity to make real improvement running IT. In a previous post on defining Lean, we addressed cost cutting, reduced planning horizons, consolidation and the quick killing off bad ideas. But we did not discuss whether and how Lean can help innovative CIOs transitioning their firms to Business Technology (see Forrester’s "Five Essential Best Practices For The IT-To-BT Transformation"), instead of focusing on making their IT shops skinnier.
Firms have used Lean for solving different problems. So far the most popular application has been as a process improvement tool, with Kaizen Blitz being similar to other process improvement tools such as Just-In-Time (JIT), Six Sigma, or Total Quality Management (TQM). Executives use them to uncover and implement opportunities to improve lead times, cut waste, and optimize development and provisioning processes. These tools work fine for processes with relatively stable steps and stakeholders, such as incident, problem, change, or release management (see Forrester’s "Applying Lean Thinking To IT").
I spoke recently with Stephen Cho, the product manager for the new Google Apps Reseller Program. It's quite clear that Google has learned from its Postini reseller program, from partners like Appirio and Cap Gemini, and from Microsoft's Exchange Online reseller program.
First, the details:
Resellers own the customer. That means billing, first line support, the works.This is in distinct contrast to Microsoft's program for Exchange Online, where partners can sell and benefit from the business, but the Exchange customer would write checks to Redmond.
Resellers get 20% margin. That's in the US, anyway. That means $10/user/year. Period. Have you ever seen such price transparency (and low points) in any reseller program? I haven't. The entire term sheet would fit on a 1/3rd of a page.
Enterprises can't be their own reseller. They have to sell to at least someone other than themselves. Otherwise, this would be a simple way for a enterprise to whack 20% off the already low $50/user/year cost.
Google will provide technical admin support if requested. They won't provide end user support. though. That's one of the value-added services that a VAR can provide.
Today, AVG announced the acquisition of Sana Security, a longtime host-intrusion prevention software vendor. I have particular affection for Sana because they were a former client of mine at a previous job. Back in the summer of 2007, when security startup venture money was still flowing freely, like a rose-scented fountain at a Vegas casino, I remember giving a speech for Sana at their San Jose Grand Prix event. Don Listwin, their then-CEO, was a serious car racing enthusiast. He had conspired with the city of San Jose to shut down the city center so they could run race cars down the middle of it. It was pretty wild stuff -- speaking as someone who comes from Boston, where all of the roads seem to be derived from old horse-trails or giant spiderweb patterns.
Host intrusion prevention software has always been a fascinating subsegment of client security, not least because of the fact that what HIPS vendors try to do is actually pretty hard stuff. In concept, the idea sounds simple: monitor processes in memory for suspicious activity, and block them when they try to do something naughty. For example, an ActiveX control executing in the context of a website should not be allowed to open a command shell and then initiate an outbound connection to somewhere else. Simple, right?