Peace, love, and the IBM System 360s

"Our vision for 2010 is the same as IBM's for the year 1960." So said Oracle's Larry Ellison from the stage at today's event to celebrate his company's acquisition of Sun Microsystems. With Sun in hand, Oracle will now take us back to the simple virtues of mainframes 50 years ago. Updated, these virtues are:

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Jump On The iPad Before It Is Too Late: 3 Reasons To Develop An iPad App Now

Finally, Apple’s latest game-changing, must-have device is ripe - the iPad. The iPad is not a new idea. Tablet PCs were introduced years ago but failed to take off. More recently, the Amazon Kindle proved that a simpler form of the tablet has legs. But what Apple does brilliantly is that they do it better.

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Progress Software Builds Its Position An Enterprise Platform Provider

With its acquisition of BPM-software leader Savvion, Progress Software has taken a step closer to providing a full line of enterprise middleware. Progress has operated as a supermarket of middleware brands addressing mostly specialized needs, but now is creating broader enterprise application platforms out of its separate middleware brands [Figure 1.].

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Pros and cons of using a vendor provided analytical data model in your BI implementation

The following question comes from many of our clients: what are some of the advantages and risks of implementing a vendor provided analytical logical data model at the start of any Business Intelligence, Data Warehousing or other Information Management initiatives? Some quick thoughts on pros and cons:

Pros:

  • Leverage vendor knowledge from prior experience and other customers
  • May fill in the gaps in enterprise domain knowledge
  • Best if your IT dept does not have experienced data modelers 
  • May sometimes serve as a project, initiative, solution accelerator
  • May sometimes break through a stalemate between stakeholders failing to agree on metrics, definitions

Cons

 

  • May sometimes require more customization effort, than building a model from scratch
  • May create difference of opinion arguments and potential road blocks from your own experienced data modelers
  • May reduce competitive advantage of business intelligence and analytics (since competitors may be using the same model)
  • Goes against “agile” BI principles that call for small, quick, tangible deliverables
  • Goes against top down performance management design and modeling best practices, where one does not start with a logical data model but rather
    • Defines departmental, line of business strategies  
    • Links goals and objectives needed to fulfill these strategies  
    • Defines metrics needed to measure the progress against goals and objectives  
    • Defines strategic, tactical and operational decisions that need to be made based on metrics
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Forrester Databyte: SCM Tool Adoption

Last week Dr. Dobb's published an article I penned in December on "What Developers Think". I won't rehash the thrust of that piece here other than to reaffirm the growing trend of technology populism in development shops - where tech-savvy workers make their own decisions about what technologies to use.

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BI In The Cloud? Yes, And On The Ground, Too

Slowly but surely, with lots of criticism and skepticism, the business intelligence (BI) software-as-a-service (SaaS) market is gaining ground. It's a road full of peril — at least two BI SaaS startups have failed this year — but what software market segment has not seen its share of failures? Although I do not see a stampede to replace traditional BI applications with SaaS alternatives in the near future, BI SaaS does have a few legitimate use cases even today, such as complementary BI, in coexistence with traditional BI, BI workspaces, and BI for small and some midsize businesses. 

In our latest BI SaaS research report we recommend the following structured approach to see if BI SaaS is right for you and if you are ready for BI SaaS:

  1. Map your BI requirements and IT culture to one of five BI SaaS use cases
  2. Evaluate and consider scenarios where BI SaaS may be a right or wrong fit for you
  3. Select the BI SaaS vendor that fits your business, technical, and operational requirements, including your tolerance for risk

First we identified 5 following BI SaaS use cases.

  1. Coexistence case: on-premises BI complemented with SaaS BI in enterprises
  2. SaaS-centric case in enterprises: main BI application in enterprises committed to SaaS
  3. SaaS-centric case in midmarket: main BI application in midsized businesses
  4. Elasticity case: BI for companies with strong variations in activity from season to season
  5. Power user flexibility case: BI workspaces are often considered necessary by power analysts
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Bottom Up And Top Down Approaches To Estimating Costs For A Single BI Report

How much does it cost to produce a single BI report? Just like typical answers to most other typical questions, the only real answer is “it depends”. But let’s build a few scenarios:

Scenario 1: Services only. Bottom up, ABC approach.

Assumptions.

 

  • Medium complexity report. Two data sources. 4 way join. 3 facts by 5 dimensions. Prompting, filtering, sorting ranking on most of the columns. Some conditional formatting. No data model changes.
  • Specifications and design – 2 person days. Development and testing - 1 person day. UAT – 1 person day.
  • Loaded salary for an FTE $120,000/yr or about ~$460/day.
  • Outside contractor $800/day.

Cost of 1 BI report: $1,840 if done by 2 FTEs or $2,520if done by 1 FTE (end user) and 1 outside contractor (developer). Sounds inexpensive? Wait.

 

Scenario 2. Top down. BI software and services:

Assumptions:

  • Average BI software deal per department (as per the latest BI Wave numbers) - $150,000
  • 50% of the software cost is attributable to canned reports, the rest is allocated to ad-hoc queries, and other forms of ad-hoc analysis and exploration.
  • Average cost of effort and services - $5 per every $1 spent on software (anecdotal evidence)
  • Average number of reports per small department - 100 (anecdotal evidence)
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Web Content Management and Portal: Together at Last?

Just got back from the Lotusphere conference in Orlando (which sure beats Boston these days in the weather department – thanks, IBM!). At one of the sessions, IBM execs gave their take on the Web content management (WCM) and portal markets. Or should that be market? IBM is betting that the WCM and portal markets will converge and cease to be separate markets, with vendors offering combined WCM/portals suites that have one administrative tool set, one presentation management structure, one repository, and so on. From a road map standpoint, IBM is also making it clear that they don’t have a “portal plan” or a “WCM plan”, but rather an “experience” plan that includes both portal and WCM.

Will it really happen? Certainly, many intranets and extranets rely on content/experience delivery via portals. Also, many companies utilize public-facing Web sites for customer self service – a good fit for portal delivery. Already, SharePoint has made some noise with WCM and portal functionality within a single product. And given many firms’ clunky customized WCM/portal integrations, IBM can look attractive with its combination of Websphere portal and Lotus WCM.

So what are the obstacles to total WCM / portal convergence?

  • A good chunk of customer experience sites that still don’t necessarily need the user-customization and application consumption capabilities of a portal.
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Forrester DataByte: Spending On Custom Software in 2010

I fielded an inquiry from a client last week who asked what levels of investment Forrester is seeing in custom software development, and whether that investment remains significant compared to other activities in IT, especially given the downward pressure we've seen on budgets in 2009. The request was timely, as I've started to comb through the results of our annual Enterprise And SMB Software Survey.

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How You Can Come Out Smelling Like A Rose In 2010

Whew. Thankfully there are finally signs that the Great Recession is waning (knock on wood). The metrics used to judge the health of the economy such as unemployment are bad but not as bad. The stock market had a big bounce off lows, Avatar raked in a billion dollars, and Barbara Walters named Lady Gaga one of the 10 most fascinating people of 2009. This does not mean we are out of the woods yet.

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