With the seventh generation of its WebSphere software, IBM redefines the state of the art in Java platforms for the enterprise.
The WebSphere 7 product family provides application development and delivery pros with new ways to optimize their application architectures, more development frameworks, automatic transactional reliability, simpler configuration and management, and improved stack integration for BPM, portal, and eCommerce projects. For shops struggling with scale, complexity, and high performance in their Java applications, WebSphere 7 may offer both relief and a simpler, easier-to-manage stack. WebSphere 7 also lays the foundation for cloud architectures and multicore hardware.
IBM, Oracle, and Red Hat JBoss will play leapfrog in Java platforms for the foreseeable future. But clients should evaluate the three leading vendors of Java platforms based on their primary goals for their software, not just by comparing features (and certainly not by comparing public benchmarks). With WebSphere 7, IBM has created a transaction monitor for Java. This goal reflects IBM's primary goals of reliability, integrity, and manageability in WebSphere. In this way, WebSphere is IBM's CICS for the Internet age.
IBM's second primary goal is to create integrated platform stacks. The WebSphere Process Server-WebSphere ILOG-Business Space-WebSphere Application Server combination is one such stack; WebSphere Portal and WebSphere Commerce are other integrated stacks.
Customers should always check the reality before assuming comprehensive integration in IBM's burgeoning WebSphere portfolio. Stack integration will always be a moving target for customers because IBM adds so many acquisitions every year. But IBM's product management regime makes it fairly easy for clients to identify which IBM stacks have high internal integration and which do not.
Vendors in the mobility ecosystem are dramatically underestimating the demand for mobility solutions in the corporate arena. Why? Because they are missing demand that will come from two emerging segments of employees: Mobile Wannabes and Mobile Mavericks. When combined, these two worker segments account for 22% of all employees today, but by 2015 they will grow significantly to 42% of all corporate employees. To identify the needs of these mobile workers, Forrester analyzed results from the Forrsights Workforce Employee Survey, Q3 2010, which was fielded to over 5,500 employees in Canada, France, Germany, the UK, and the US and captures their smartphone device usage, purchasing behavior, and mobile application adoption.
Mobile Wannabe employees work in desk jobs at an office and do not get mobile devices from the corporate IT department, but they “want to” use their smartphone devices for work. Today, Mobile Wannabe workers account for 16% of all employees worldwide; however, by 2015, this segment will account for nearly 30% of all employees. Wannabe worker roles include executive assistants, clerical personnel, human resource workers, and customer service representatives. Momentum in this segment is driven by Millennial workers who grew up having easy access to personal computers and mobile phones and often purchase smartphones prior to entering the workforce.
Only a few weeks to go before Forrester’s US EA Forum 2011 in San Francisco in February! I’ll be presenting a number of sessions, including the opening kickoff, where I’ll paint a picture of where I see EA going in the next decade. As Alex Cullen mentioned, I’ll examine three distinct scenarios where EA rises in importance, EA crashes and burns, or EA becomes marginalized.
But the most fun I’ve had preparing for this year’s event is putting together a new track: “Key Technology Trends That Will Change Your Business.” In the past, we’ve focused this conference on the practice of EA and used our big IT Forum conference in the spring to talk about technology strategies, but this year I’ve had the opportunity to put together five sessions that drill down into the technology trends that we think will have significant impact in your environment, with a particular focus on impacting business outcomes. Herewith is a quick summary of the sessions in this track:
Ah, the good ol’ days, when technology customers just wanted smaller, faster, and cheaper. Well, they still want that, but that’s not all they want. They want business outcomes: the differentiated business capabilities that technology makes possible realized with minimized risk.
Today’s business technology buyers are embedding technology deeper into their organizations. They’re using technology to not just record business, but to uniquely mediate customer interactions, stream offerings, and shape market futures.
These differentiated business capabilities are complex, requiring customers to effect a multitude of trade-offs, implementation choices, and organizational changes. The journeys businesses take to achieve differentiated capabilities are uncertain. Outcomes, therefore, often are unknown.
Business technologists have learned the hard way that happy outcomes are not achieved simply by purchasing the right stuff. The real challenge is to successfully transform technology investments into business capabilities, at the least cost, risk, and time.
Ultimately, business technologists have learned that outcomes are co-created by vendors and users.
But most vendors are still set up primarily to sell products. Product portfolios, marketing activities, and sales behaviors still presume that customers largely are passive in the value-creation process, as though the act of buying and achieving outcomes was one and the same.
Most vendors simply do not try to sustain engagement across a customer’s entire outcome lifecycle.
I just spent the better part of December on the road visiting infrastructure & operations (I&O) executives at our clients. Meeting clients is always interesting, but this year was particularly interesting. Why? Because most of the executives I met were a bit panicked. That’s not to say they aren’t good at their jobs, or that they don’t understand how to overcome the day-to-day challenges they face. No, this was something different. Something unprecedented is unfolding — and it’s unfolding with frightening speed. Put simply, these I&O execs all echoed one thing: they’re ill equipped to support empowered employees.
The public sector is certainly hot these days – definitely in the hot seat, in hot water. Concerns about public sector finance persist, with the discussion in some cases targeting specific causes beyond just vague notions of overspending. The Economist recently came down pretty hard on public sector unions.
However, for some tech vendors, the public sector really is hot – as in a hot opportunity. Despite revised earnings and warnings about public sector forecasts by some tech vendors, others are instead optimistic. Steria, a French IT services company, is not too concerned about the lingering malaise of the public sector, although it has not been immune to the crisis. A UK public sector spending moratorium in 2010 brought all projects of more than £1 million to a temporary halt, for review. Steria and other suppliers and service providers held their breath through much of the fall.
Aside from my work with product strategists, I’m also a quant geek. For much of my career, I’ve written surveys (to study both consumers and businesses) to delve deeply into demand-side behaviors, attitudes, and needs. For my first couple of years at Forrester, I actually spent 100% of my time helping clients with custom research projects that employed data and advanced analytics to help drive their business strategies.
These days, I use those quantitative research tools to help product strategists build winning product strategies. I have two favorite analytical approaches: my second favorite is segmentation analysis, which is an important tool for product strategists. But my very favorite tool for product strategists is conjoint analysis. If you, as a product strategist, don’t currently use conjoint, I’d like you to spend some time learning about it.
Why? Because conjoint analysis should be in every product strategist’s toolkit. Also known as feature tradeoff analysis or discrete choice, conjoint analysis can help you choose the right features for a product, determine which features will drive demand, and model pricing for the product in a very sophisticated way. It’s the gold standard for price elasticity analysis, and it offers extremely actionable advice on product design. It helps address each of “the four Ps” that inform product strategies.
Another excellent post from Scott Sehlhorst, this time pointing out that, even without product managers, product management still happens. Scott’s post is a response to Jason Calcanis, the founder of Mahalo, who wrote the following:
In under 30 days, we completely overhauled our product-development process, removing everything between the developer and iterating on the product. We eliminated positions and process. We made it clear the developers were to make the decisions even if those decisions resulted in a developer being 50 percent slower because they were busy *thinking* about the product (as opposed to just transcribing features from the product manager wireframes).
If Calcanis is arguing that his company doesn’t need product managers, because they just are in the way, Scott makes the obvious counterargument:
When I was still writing software and leading teams that were writing software, I would occasionally point out that all software is designed – even if someone sits down and just starts typing code. There is, at the minimum, implicit design happening in the mind of the programmer. It might not be “good” design, but there is always design. There is always a method to the madness, just not always a considered method. The same is true of product management...Eliminating product managers does not eliminate product management.
From nothing more than an outlandish speculation, the prospects for a new entrant into the volume Linux and Windows server space have suddenly become much more concrete, culminating in an immense buzz at CES as numerous players, including NVIDIA and Microsoft, stoked the fires with innuendo, announcements, and demos.
Consumers of x86 servers are always on the lookout for faster, cheaper, and more power-efficient servers. In the event that they can’t get all three, the combination of cheaper and more energy-efficient seems to be attractive to a large enough chunk of the market to have motivated Intel, AMD, and all their system partners to develop low-power chips and servers designed for high density compute and web/cloud environments. Up until now the debate was Intel versus AMD, and low power meant a CPU with four cores and a power dissipation of 35 – 65 Watts.
The Promised Land
The performance trajectory of processors that were formerly purely mobile device processors, notably the ARM Cortex, has suddenly introduced a new potential option into the collective industry mindset. But is this even a reasonable proposition, and if so, what does it take for it to become a reality?
Our first item of business is to figure out whether or not it even makes sense to think about these CPUs as server processors. My quick take is yes, with some caveats. The latest ARM offering is the Cortex A9, with vendors offering dual core products at up to 1.2 GHz currently (the architecture claims scalability to four cores and 2 GHz). It draws approximately 2W, much less than any single core x86 CPU, and a multi-core version should be able to execute any reasonable web workload. Coupled with the promise of embedded GPUs, the notion of a server that consumes much less power than even the lowest power x86 begins to look attractive. But…
It's important sometimes to step back from the obvious trends and look at things that lie just beyond the light. So in addition to the clear trends in play: mobilizing the entire collaboration toolkit, moving collaboration services to the cloud (often in support of mobile work); and consolidating collaboration workloads onto a full-featured collaboration platform, here are six counterintuitive trends for 2011 (for more detail and an analysis of what content & collaboration professionals should do, please read the full report available to Forrester clients or by credit card):
Consumerization gets board-level approval. Consumerization is inevitable; your response is not. In 2011, tackle this head on. (And read our book, Empowered, while you're at it -- it has a recipe for business success in the empowered era, a world in which customers and employees have power.)
The email inbox gets even more important. I know the established wisdom is for email to get less relevant as Gen Y tweets their way to business collaboration. But come on, look at all the drivers of email: feeds from social media, universal, pervasive on any device. Email's here to stay. But it's time to reinvent the inbox. IBM and Google are leading this charge.
The cloud cements its role as the place for collaboration innovation. The cloud is better for mobile, telework, and distributed organizations. And cloud collaboration services will get better faster than on-premise alternatives. Full stop. The math isn't hard to do. A quarterly product release cycle beats four-year upgrade cycles and every time.