I recently joined the Forrester Infrastructure and Operations team, and I'm excited to be working the team to further explore the changing world of storage. I know... many said "Storage? How boring." But in fact, there have been some very exciting changes in storage that have emerged as the result of many other transformations happening in the IT environment, that directly or indirectly impact storage. Some of the larger changes include:
Converged infrastructure: Emerging solutions that tie networking, storage and compute together have impacted the way storage further interacts and integrates with the other components of this stack. As Andre Kindness (@andrekindness) addresses in his doc here, the convergence occurring in the network are impacting the way storage considerations must be made and deployed going forward.
Cloud: Although much hyped, cloud computing is real and happening. There's no need to delve deeper for now, my colleague James Staten (@staten7) covers this topic extensively and can find his blog here. Many components of this model have evolved, yet cloud storage in its infancy. Use cases are still limited, as Andrew Reichman (@reichmanIT) points out in his August doc. However, I do see the market evolving quickly, as enterprises begin to get more comfortable and realistic about their expectations.
One of the face palm moments I had while researching PM's role in SaaS was the timeline for platform and app development. The traditional path for on-premise products was platform first, then application. The cloud products flip this sequence, putting the applications first, then the platform. We're so used to seeing this pattern that it's easy to take it for granted, or mistake the reasons why it exists (hence the face palm).
There were two reasons for this evolution in the natural history of a tech vendor's portfolio. The first is distance from the customer. In an on-premise world, where there's a lot of geographic and organizational distance between the producers and consumers of technology, the collection mechanisms about customer adoption (infrequent "How ya doin'?" conference calls, cryptic bug reports, etc.) are labor-intensive. For however much effort you put into this research, the information returned is often incomplete, distorted, or just plain wrong. For example, the game of Telephone played among product teams, customers, and the salespeople in between often leaves PMs with more questions than answers about what a customer really wants.
Therefore, the product strategy for on-premise products have to accommodate a lot of uncertainty about how customers use the technology. While it's not the only reason for customization and custom application development, it's certainly an important one. Rather than guess wrong about customer adoption, on-premise vendors tend to say, "Here's a toolkit. Go build what you want."
The General Services Administration made a bold decision to move its email and collaboration systems to the cloud. In the RFP issued last June, it was easy to see their goals in the statement of objectives:
This Statement of Objectives (SOO) describes the goals that GSA expects to achieve with regard to the
1. modernization of its e-mail system;
2. provision of an effective collaborative working environment;
3. reduction of the government’s in-house system maintenance burden by providing related business, technical, and management functions; and
4. application of appropriate security and privacy safeguards.
GSA announced yesterday that they choose Google Apps for email and collaboration and Unisys as the implementation partner.
So what does this mean?
What it means (WIM) #1: GSA employees will be using a next-generation information workplace. And that means mobile, device-agnostic, and location-agile. Gmail on an iPad? No problem. Email from a home computer? Yep. For GSA and for every other agency and most companies, it's important to give employees the tools to be productive and engage from every location on every device. "Work becomes a thing you do and not a place you go." [Thanks to Earl Newsome of Estee Lauder for that quote.]