SHARE – Rooted In The Past, Looking To The Future

I spoke today at SHARE’s biannual conference, giving a talk on emerging data center architectures, x86 servers, and internal clouds. SHARE is an organization which describes itself as “representing over 2,000 of IBM's top enterprise computing customers.” In other words, definitely a mainframe geekfest, as described by one attendee. I saw hundreds of people around my age (think waaay over 30), and was able to swap stories of my long-ago IBM mainframe programming experience (that’s what we called “Software Engineering” back when it was FORTRAN, COBOL, PL/1 and BAL. I was astounded to see that IMS was still a going thing, with sessions on the agenda, and in a show of hands, at least a third of the audience reported still running IMS.

Oh well, dinosaurs may survive in some odd corners of the world, and IMS workloads, while not exciting, are a necessary and familiar facet of legacy applications that have decades of stability and embedded culture behind them…

But wait! Look again at the IMS session right next door to my keynote. It was about connecting zLinux and IMS. Other sessions included more zLinux, WebSphere and other seemingly new-age topics. Again, my audience confirmed the sea-change in the mainframe world. Far more compelling than any claims by IBM reps was the audience reaction to a question about zLinux – more than half of them indicated that they currently run zLinux, a response which was much higher than I anticipated. Further discussions after the session with several zLinux users left me with some strong impressions:

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Google Ends Wave: What Lessons Collaboration Tech Product Managers And Marketers Can Learn

Yesterday (August 5), Google announced that it was ceasing attempts to make Google Wave a viable standalone product. Considering the fanfare that the product received in the run-up to its general release (announced at Google I/O in May), it was no surprise the story burned across the blogosphere and the press. In following some of the Twitter traffic, what I found interesting was some of the low-level chuckling I saw from some competing vendors in the collaboration software space. Why? Well, before I get into that, let me make a couple of stipulations:

  1. Google has a history of less-than-stellar product launches. In tossing Google Wave on the scrap heap (and parceling out some of its components as open-source software), the brainchild of Lars and Jens Rasmussen joins a growing number of failed products. Some of this can be attributed to mistakes that Google has made time and again in marketing and product design (my colleague Tom Grant pointed out some of this with Google Buzz). But you also have to factor in that because Google has such a high profile, every time a product under performs it draws a lot of attention, making each failure seem large. But this does not seem to slow the search engine giant's innovation engine, which brings me to my second point.
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Evaluate Your HERO Project -- Find The Gotchas, Share Results, Build Support

Yesterday we launched our Empowered microsite. On this site you can find lots of resources about our new book, including the blog, where to buy the book in bulk, how Forrester can help your empowered strategies, and a new HERO Project Effort-Value Evaluation tool.

First, some background. When Josh & I first began investigating HEROes (highly empowered and resourceful operatives, basically folks like you who make a difference using new technology), we knew that we needed a way to assess the effort that your projects required. And then we realized that you were tackling new technology solutions because you saw the value they could provide. So we needed to help you assess the value and the effort.

Thus was born the HERO Project Effort-Value Evaluation tool that we introduce in chapter 2. This tool includes five value questions and five effort questions that categorize your project into one of four classes and provides you some high-level guidance on what to watch out for. The online version of the tool also creates a nice email format with the results of your evaluation, which you can easily share with colleagues to get them involved in the project.

I think your best use of the tool is to sanity check your thinking on the project, get insight into the questions you need to answer before getting started, and get others on board with your project goals. If you're in business, it's a way to get IT involved. If you're in IT, it's a way to help your business colleagues scope a project and get your help with it.

We can also help you assess the project and provide additional insight into where you should dig deeper.

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Putting RIM’s “Security” Challenges In Perspective

Research In Motion has been in the news a lot over the last few days. Last week, the news broke that the governments of the United Arab Emirates and India threatened to suspend service to RIM customers in their countries because of alleged threats to national security. I was quoted in today’s USA Today about this unfolding story.

But let us be clear: the “security problem” that officials in these governments were citing had nothing to do with actual security. As we have written about extensively, the BlackBerry device is well-designed from a security perspective. Its cryptography modules are FIPs-certified, and all of its communications are encrypted using industry-standard algorithms. We have called the BlackBerry the “gold standard” of secure corporate devices and continue to stand by that assessment.

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The US Q2 2010 GDP Report: Good News For Tech, Not So Good For Employment

While taking in the latest US GDP report and its implications for the tech markets, I have been struck by a pattern of US business putting its money into technology instead of people. Part of the increased tech investment is replacement of old servers and PCs, but most investment has been in technologies to cut costs and improve efficiency. These purchases have been good news for the US tech market, which (as I predicted) is growing strongly. However, it is not so good for the overall economy. The lift to US economic growth from business IT investment is a positive, but the corporate reluctance to hire new employees is making consumers reluctant to spend. Moreover, much of the business investment in computer equipment is flowing overseas in the form of imports of these products, which is also hurting US GDP growth. So, the strong outlook for the tech market is paradoxically contributing to a less robust outlook for the US economy.

The US Department of Commerce released its preliminary report on US Gross Domestic Product in Q2 2010 last Friday, July 31, 2010, and today posted more detailed numbers on business investment in computer equipment and communications equipment. In addition to providing Q2 2010 data, there also were revisions in data for business investment in computer equipment, communications equipment, and software for 2007 to Q1 2010. So, let’s look at what the latest data is saying about the state of the US tech market.

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Is SVM A Barrier To Innovation?

As many readers know, I have a strong interest in understanding the practical realities of innovation and want to help companies define what that "buzzword" means -- what it is, who manages it, and why it's important (see my just-published report on the ecosystem of innovation services providers). 

I believe Sourcing and Vendor Management (SVM) can and should play a critical role in the innovation process. However, my biggest disappointment when I speak to many technology vendors, IT professionals, and business users is when they tell me that they avoid working with SVM when purchasing (or in the cases of vendors, selling) a new technology. Fairly or unfairly, they see SVM's involvement as a bureaucratic stumbling block that will stifle their ability to move quickly or pick the technology vendor they want. For these people, SVM acts as a barrier, not an enabler, of innovation.

I’ve written before that this view is short-sighted: we know that SVM can play a pivotal role in protecting the long-term interests of the organization, SVM is a critical part of the technology purchasing process, and there are plenty of reasons to believe that the power of SVM organizations will only grow in the future.  To some of the more progressive SVM organizations, contributing to businenss innovation is an even more important priority than cutting costs.

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Observations On The Future Of ALM

During a vendor conference, I sat down with 12 application development professionals and asked them a very simple question: "What will be the biggest themes for application lifecycle management be in the next 5 years?" The resulting debate and discussion highlights some key areas that application development professionals should look to when building their ALM strategy.

Who owns the code?

The reality of open source, partner-developed code and vendor value add-ins was not lost on the group. The overarching theme from this discussion was that customer organizations not only need to own the overall supply chain but also are responsible for ensuring its quality. That means, as writing code decreases, inspection, validation, and testing increase. The result is that traceability, workflow, and reporting are inclusive of customer code but also supplier code. For example, defects with an open source project need to be captured, shared, and tracked in a similar way to internal defects. The difference is that, unlike with internal development, those defects will also feature in the open source project and be fixed by people outside of the customer's organization. The implication of licenses and IP ownership was discussed, with one in the group painting a very bleak picture. He described a scenario where because of the result of one massive IP infringement a company is forced to stop operating, with the resulting fallout being a massive, wholesale movement away from open source software and associated complex IP and licensing issues. Though this example was extreme, the group agreed that licensing should be part of the governance for any ALM solution. This increased complexity of code ownership will require ALM solutions to:

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Post-PC Devices: What Is Your Definition?

Greetings. Here at Forrester, we are encouraged to think Deep Thoughts about Matters of Great Importance. Looking across the broader landscape of IT — of which security and risk is just a small part — we can see that one of the biggest and more important matters today is the influx of consumer-grade mobile gear into the workplace. Whether you call it Tech Populism (a favorite Forrester term) or Executive Bling (a favorite term of mine), it is no secret that enterprise CIOs are receiving lots of pressure to support unsanctioned devices like the iPhone and iPad in the workplace.

Today, Forrester published my report “Apple’s iPhone And iPad: Secure Enough For Business?” In it, we describe how the capabilities of Apple’s iOS 4 make these devices secure enough for many businesses to use safely. We define seven security policies every enterprise should implement to keep its email and corporate information safe on Apple mobile devices, whether or not the enterprise owns them. We also define additional security "high-water marks" — policies and processes you can implement — based on your risk profile and regulatory exposure. I hope you’ll read the report, and I welcome your comments and questions.

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iPad And iPhone: Secure Enough For Most Businesses

Greetings everyone. My name is Andrew Jaquith, and I serve security and risk professionals. Normally I blog over on the S&R analyst team blog. But because Forrester has been receiving so many inquiries about the security of iPhone and iPad devices, I thought it would make sense to let you know that my new report, “Apple’s iPhone And iPad: Secure Enough For Business?” is now live on the Forrester website and available to Forrester subscribers.

ZDNet's Larry Dignan nicely summarizes my report here. But for the impatient, here is the executive summary:

Apple’s iPhone and the iPad have become increasingly popular. In 2007, IT dismissed the iPhone as insecure and unsuitable for enterprises. Three years later, the iPhone (and iPad) gives enterprises enough security options to enable them to say “yes” instead of “no.” In this report, Forrester defines seven security policies every enterprise should implement to keep its email and corporate information safe on Apple mobile devices, whether or not the enterprise owns them. We also define additional security “high-water marks” — policies and processes you can implement — based on your risk profile and regulatory exposure. Finally, we acknowledge that while most enterprises can use Apple mobile devices securely, some require higher levels of authentication assurance, resistance to attack, manageability, and logging than the iPad or iPhone can provide. For these customers, Research In Motion’s BlackBerry still rules the roost.

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Unscrew Your Light Bulb!

Unscrew Your LightbulbRollin Ford has one of the toughest CIO jobs on the planet. He leads a global IT team in one of the world’s largest companies by revenue and employees, a company that has earned a reputation for leadership in supply chain that has allowed it to dominate its markets. Yet Wal-Mart is constantly under pressure to maintain its leadership position. In the US, Target has become a fierce competitor, while in the UK, Tesco may have overtaken Wal-Mart in supply-chain leadership, with Tesco's move into the US watched closely by Wal-Mart.

Earlier this year, Ford sat on a CIO panel discussing IT’s role in innovation. His thoughts on innovation also touched on strategy and alignment. He suggested that innovation starts with the customer, then leads into a business strategy, and then it gets enabled by technology. However, he acknowledges, “there are very few secrets out there.” Ford suggests that the only competitive advantage over time is the speed at which your organization can implement and leverage innovative ideas: “Your organization has to embrace change and new technologies, and that becomes your model. It’s about getting from A to B and doing it quicker than everybody else.”

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