IBM'S Business Analytics and Optimization Service Comes to Market

Recently, I was invited to attend an analyst briefing event at IBM's TJ Watson Research Center in Hawthorne, NY to hear about their new Business Analytics and Optimization service line.  The company is quite excited about this new service line, which they describe as one designed to use analytics to help companies “improve the speed and quality of business decisions.”  They cite some underlying drivers of demand – like the fact that many business leaders say they don’t have enough information to make business decisions, or that many business decisions are based on gut feel – as pointing to the fact that more customers will look to IBM for a quantitative, data-driven analysis of their business situation and options.

Overall, I was impressed.  I had a very nice lunch with Fred Balboni (the service line leader) in which, in addition to discussing his ambitious cycling regimen, he explained why the new service line is both important to the market, and consistent with IBMs existing capabilities.  The company claims that while the service line is new, they have been doing projects in this area for quite a while as part of their services work. 

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RSA Conference review: vendors continue to miss the mark

Jonathan Penn

For those who are used to seeing me post here, I have been writing more frequently to security vendor strategists rather than security & risk practitioners. I just posted on Forrester's Vendor Strategy blog about my impressions from RSA. You can read the unabridged version there, but here's the CliffsNotes:

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Impressions of the RSA Conference: Notable for what was missing

The RSA Conference is now over, though by no means have I decompressed: it was a whirlwind of activity (I held 38 meetings in 5 days!). As evidence of how significant the RSA Conference is as the place to show your wares and to be seen, by my count there were over 350 vendors exhibiting - which is a bit less than half of the entire security vendor community. Notably, though, many of the booths were smaller than in years past.
My colleague John Kindervag predicted in advance of the conference that cost-cutting and "cloud" were going to be the two big pitches coming from vendors. Credit John with a direct hit on that.
But here's what I saw missing from the event:

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Blog and podcast update

Unfortunately, they're both delayed. I'll have a blog post later today, and the weekly podcast in a couple of days.

IT Partnerships - Do You Understand The Terms Anymore?

Introducing a new partner-type Lingua Franca for the new era

By Peter O'Neill

We have been getting numerous inquiries from both vendor and user clients about the strange collection of terms used to describe partners in our industry.
What is a "Preferred Partner"? Who prefers them and why should that be important to me the buyer.     Or what does "Advanced Partner" mean?
So we looked at the partner-taxonomy for 16 different IT vendors and, lo and behold, it is truly a mess!

Of course, compared with other industries, the IT industry is still relatively young and we are still more influenced by technology than business trends - so most decisions of this type are still made by technology experts with only occasional business-savvy. The partnerships that IT vendors develop and communicate tend to reflect their bias.

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SUN / Oracle: Is It The Consolidation-Blues Or A Game Changer?

Xing-white By Stefan Ried

The blogsphere on the Oracle/Sun deal has been hot for the past two days and the Forrester team has just gotten off the phone with Ed Screven, Larry’s Chief Corporate Architect to learn more on the background. Actually Oracle’s commitment, the market reaction, and our analysis provides far too much content to cover in one report or even a quick blog. It will end up in various Forrester reports according to your role:

For infrastructure and operations professionals, James has already unveiled the impact on SUN’s installed base. Everybody operating a Sun hardware based data center is scared by the mere possibility that Oracle might sell the hardware part of Sun. See his blog here. 

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The latest podcast: Tim Harmon on SMBs and partnerships

The weekly podcast for product managers and product marketers is here. This week, senior analyst Tim Harmon explains how SMBs will be critical during the recovery, and provide tips for tech vendors for working with their partners. Plus, tech industry trivia! For the link to the podcast, go here.

How the Oracle/Sun deal makes sense

Ever since the IBM offer to acquire Sun fell through, we've been waiting for the other shoe to drop. Apparently, we didn't have to wait very long.

Honestly, I'm surprised at the strongly negative tone to many of the responses I've read or heard today. You expect to hear a lot of snarky sniping on Slashdot, but come on, Infoworld, do we really know that Oracle is going to lay off 10,000 Sun employees? (Which is a highly misleading headline, since in the last sentence of that article, you'll discover that Sun was already planning to lay off 6,000 people.)

Every deal has its pros and cons. Since other observerss have been focused on the potential downsides for Oracle, Sun, or their customers, let's leave those aside for the moment. Instead, let's talk about the waysin which this deal make sense.

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Giving in lean times

Whenever the economy gets into trouble, charitable contributions take an even greater beating. This recession has struck particularly hard at many of the organizations that are major sources of institutional donations. No amount of tax incentives seem to change this picture significantly.

Therefore, every little bit counts. Companies still have some self-interest in charity, but that doesn't change the importance of the outcome.

Case in point is Atlassian, who is donating a portion of their core business, Confluence and JIRA, to raise money for Room To Read. The one-year, 5 users at $5 per user deal (click here for details) is hardly a cost-free donation for Atlassian. Confluence has a lot of traction in the Wiki market on its own. The Confluence/Jira duo appear frequently in technical teams who want a mix of tools that fit their work, but are flexible enough to be twisted into whatever collaborative shape they want. Heavily discounting these licenses, therefore, is nothing to sniff at.

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Yet Another Cloud – How Many Clouds Do We Need?

A proposed cloud taxonomy.

Everything as a service (XaaS) and Yet Another cloud! The cloud
is the buzzword du jour.

Unfortunately vendors are increasingly confusing customers as too many different
things are related to cloud computing. We’d like to start a public discussion
around the number and structure of cloud computing categories. Discussions with
Forrester clients and among Forrester analysts turned out that not only the
technical capabilities or the network topology is the major dimension for a
differentiator. It is also the role of the corresponding IT professional. A
specific technical cloud infrastructure for example, cloud be called by a
vendor strategist simply a “private cloud”, but might get two different names from
the IT operations professional depending on an internal or external sourcing
approach.

Forrester already explored various cloud trends, SaaS and
PaaS technologies and business application.

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