Getting On The Bus With Cloud Storage

I've been down on vendors pitching half baked cloud storage visions for some time now, which often seem like attempts to avoid being left out of a feeding frenzy, rather than a vision of how the cloud might improve real storage environments. So I've been fairly negative on the hype of the cloud, and the data seems to support this negativity. According to Forrester's 2009 Enterprise And SMB Hardware Survey, 91% of respondents say they have no tangible plans to move forward with cloud storage. But when I stop to consider it, I don't want to look back in 5 years and say that I was the analyst that said cloud was never going to happen. There's a huge amount of pain in enterprise IT, and storage is often the most problematic segment in the data center. It has ever-increasingly high costs, challenging hiring of the right skill sets, and poor efficiency. Chaos is becoming the norm. The prospect of getting effective and secure services from an outside band of experts or of building out a consistent, measurable, and scalable internal architecture resonates strongly with IT buyers. So, there's big pain, budget funds, and a vague vision of an alternative solution. That's a recipe for eventual change if I've ever seen one.

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Results Of The Forrester Wave™: Open Source Business Intelligence (BI), Q3 2010

Open source software (OSS) and business intelligence (BI) are two related market segments where Forrester sees continually increasing interest and adoption levels. BI specifically continues to be one of the top priorities on everyone's mind. The main reason? Enterprises that do not squeeze the last ounce of information out of their data stores and applications, and do not focus on getting strategic, tactical, and operational insight into their customers, products, and operations, risk falling behind competition. And when it comes to open source, 2009 could best be described as "the year IT professionals realized that open source runs their business." The reason is simple: Over the past few years, we've seen that developers adopt open source products tactically without the explicit approval of their managers. This has shown up in numerous surveys where the actual adoption of open source ranks higher than what IT managers report. Well no longer: Forrester's Enterprise And SMB Software Survey, North America And Europe, Q4 2009 shows that management has caught on to the fact that developers increasingly use open source to run key parts of their IT infrastructure. And management has grown increasingly comfortable with it. In fact, throughout 2009, most client inquiries Forrester received regarding open source were focused on how to move from tactical adoption to strategic exploitation.

Yet, when you put the 2 and 2 together (OSS and BI), you mostly get a mixed market, where one unfortunately has to compare apples to oranges. Why? Before plunging into a tool evaluation and selection process, ask yourself the following questions, and make sure you are doing a like-to-like comparison:

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Zimbra Appliance: VMWare Executes On Cloud-Based Email

VMWare has got it down: Sell a virtualization solution with anchor applications (and seats) that no service provider can live without, starting with email. This is the call we made when VMWare bought open source email and collaboration provider Zimbra from Yahoo! last February. And now they've delivered with the upgraded Zimbra Collaboration Suite Appliance 6.0 targeted at service providers and other virtual cloud hosters. What it means:

What it means #1. VMWare is solidly in the market to provision service providers with email. Service providers that want to resell Google or Microsoft's email have the benefit of low capital costs and rapid deployment. But service providers that don't want to resell another vendors' cloud services need a solution that runs at low cost on cheap servers with easy peasy provisioning. That's what the Zimbra collaboration appliance promises. Will it deliver? Love to hear from service providers on this one.

What it means #2. VMWare drives another nail into the coffin of on-premises business email. At $5/mailbox/month for cloud email, if you take away client software and mailbox administration costs, our analysis shows that it costs twice as much to host a mailbox yourself than to host it in the cloud. This offering gives service providers around the world the opportunity to compete at that price. So who would use on-premises email? Only someone with stringent requirements, massive scale, or a recent upgrade. Even the federal government is moving to cloud-based email as GSA has announced.

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Cyber Security Roundtable: Security In The Cyber World

 I had the pleasure of attending Open Group Conference Boston just two weeks ago. Historically, this conference aims at bringing enterprise architects together from various industries to talk about important architectural issues. This time around, they dedicated track sessions to the security topic. Among other things, I had an opportunity to record a podcast with Dana Gardner, Gen. Harry Raduege, and Jim Hietala on the topic of cyber security.

You can listen to the full podcast at the Forrester page as well as catch the synopsis of the conversation at Dana Gardner’s blog

Cyber security has gained quite a bit of attention in the past year or so. Although the concept has been discussed for almost a decade, the evolving nature of threats has created lots of buzz recently. There are numerous threat vectors and thus, diverse targets. Increasingly, data espionage, identity theft, cyber attacks on the critical infrastructure, denial of service (DDOS), and advanced persistent threats (APT) are coming to the surface. Public and private sectors alike are concerned about the targeted attacks that are aimed at stealing confidential data, which produces a domino effect and harms companies' brand names and operations.  

In the past 18 months we have seen many examples and scenarios that highlight the cyber security discussion. For instance:

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AP's API Empowers New Media Through AWS And Azure

 

It’s no secret traditional news organizations are struggling to stay relevant today in an age where an always-connected generation has little use for newspaper subscriptions and nightly news programs. The Associated Press (AP), the world's oldest and largest news cooperative, is one such organization who has felt the threats which this paradigm shift carries and thus the need to intensify its innovation efforts. However, like many organizations today, its in-house IT Ops and business processes weren’t versatile enough for the kind of innovation needed.

"The business had identified a lot of new opportunities we just weren't able to pursue because our traditional syndication services couldn't support them," said Alan Wintroub, director of development, enterprise application services at the AP, "but the bottom line is that we can't afford not to try this."

To make AP easily accessible for emerging Internet services, social networks, and mobile applications, the nearly 164-year-old news syndicate needed to provide new means of integration that let these customers serve themselves and do more with the content — mash it up with other content, repackage it, reformat it, slice it up, and deliver it in ways AP never could think of —  or certainly never originally intended.

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A Multitude Of Challenges For Business Architects

I recently led a workshop with 35 clients from a variety of industries to uncover the challenges they face in their business architecture efforts. Through brainstorming and breakout discussions, the group created more than 160 individual challenge statements. In subsequent analysis I was able to identify 14 unique challenges in three major categories: EA skill/capability, organization/culture, and support/resources.

Here are the challenges I identified:

  1. Lack of business skills in the EA team
  2. No proven BA methodology to follow
  3. Low EA visibility/credibility in the business community
  4. Poor business-IT goal alignment
  5. Gatekeepers protect their business relationships
  6. Business units plan and work in silos
  7. A culture of change resistance
  8. Tactical business focus
  9. Lack of clearly articulated business strategy
  10. Lack of executive sponsorship
  11. BA’s value proposition hasn’t been established
  12. Lack of funding for BA initiatives
  13. Concern over impact to other initiatives
  14. Management puts a low priority on BA

Fourteen challenges seem like a lot to deal with (and I am sure there are more). But as I looked at the list I realized that these are not unrelated issues that can be solved independently but in fact are clearly structurally related. For example: A lack of funding can only be solved when you have a compelling value proposition, which can only be created when you have demonstrated value in some way, which can only be done when you have the right skills and capabilities. A general model of the relationship is below. I know most of us would like to start with funding and executive sponsorship, but it just doesn’t work that way.  

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AMERICAN SYSTEMS Uses BSM To Shift Culture And Advance Business Services And Security

Recently I published a business service management (BSM) case study on AMERICAN SYSTEMS. If you're interested in BSM, I highly recommend reading through this report. Although there are many known business alignment success stories, AMERICAN SYSTEMS takes business alignment a step further by aligning IT elements in a way that truly supports its business goals. AMERICAN SYSTEMS sought to improve the delivery and quality of its services to the business, something they were able to accomplish by introducing ITIL and COBIT standards and deploying integrated data center management software. In all, they were able to gain situational awareness, preempt and respond to issues more efficiently, and better protect information assets.

I've outlined a few key highlights from this report below:

First off, AMERICAN SYSTEMS is a government IT innovator that provides engineering, technical, and managed services to government customers. In order to meet the needs of their clients' constant demand for new and better services, they decided to shift from a reactive to a proactive way of managing and operating.

When they set out to make changes they outlined several goals:

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Senator Charles E. Schumer Calls Indians “Chop Shop” In Latest Offshoring War Of Words

Last week, as part of the debate on the 600B border security bill, Senator Charles E. Schumer from New York reportedly called the Indian offshore IT firms in general and Infosys in particular “chop shops” — a reference to the locations where criminals dismantle stolen cars for spare parts. As always, the Indian press has immediately reacted. But let’s not take the comment out of context; US Senator Charles Schumer calls Infosys 'chop shop' - India Business - Business - The Times of India. Senator Schumer is showing that in an election year, he is “standing up” for American jobs.

But that said, as we head into the midterm elections with 9.5% unemployment and very little job growth, there will be more comments like this unfortunately, and the Indian firms and NASSCOM need to be prepared with their own PR counterattack and story. Offshore customers would also be advised to take the same advice and have a clear PR plan ready to go at a moment’s notice in case they get raked over the coals as part of the rhetoric.

Forrester's Security Forum 2010

Many of you may already know, but Forrester’s Security Forum 2010 is coming up in September. This year, the theme is “Building The High-Performance Security Organization.” Indeed, as the global economy begins to recover, Security & Risk professionals must transform from a reactive silo of technical security expertise to a true partner of the business and an enabler of forward-thinking business strategies.

This forum is all about technical, tactical, and strategic information to increase the maturity and performance of your IT security organization in this fast-changing economic climate. In the two-day forum, we will explore the principles of:

  • Aligning your objectives and measures of success with the business.
  • Giving business the tools to perform risk management.
  • Preparing for the adoption of cloud services, the consumerization of IT, the proliferation of social technologies, and an ever-changing threat landscape.

I will be running three sessions at the forum this year:

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RIP Google Wave: Lessons For Enterprise Social Initiatives

Anyone familiar with social technologies will remember the launch of Google Wave in the fall of 2009. It was a new kind of communication platform released into a beta test with 100,000 invitations sent out. Google’s strategy in limiting the rollout was designed not to overload the architecture (and perhaps to create a sense of scarcity, which it did very well). Google also wanted to develop the platform experientially based on user feedback. However, on Wednesday Google announced it was pulling the plug on Wave. Eric Schmidt tried to put a positive spin on it, describing Wave as a failed experiment that was also a learning experience. And there are certainly some lessons that can be applied to the rollout of enterprise social platforms.

Numbers Matter – Develop A Strategy For Rapid Adoption

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