The Nastiest Performance Bottleneck Is Often The Database

Some of the most joyful technical challenges I experienced as a developer were solving application performance problems. Isn't it fun. You are Sherlock Holmes - examining the architecture, diving into the code for clues, and scouring through logs files to find the bottlenecks that are responsible for snail's pace. However, this job is a lot harder than Sherlock Holmes or CSI. It is more like Dr. Gregory House, because you are racing against the clock. For every minute of sluggish performance, you could be losing eyeballs and therefore revenue. Worst case: the patient, i.e., your website, dies.

Performance Problems Are Usually Elevated Because Of A Crisis

Your business just launched a Super Bowl commercial that confidently directed people to your website - #fail. More likely, a new release of software performs like a dog (with apologies to Greyhounds) because of lame coding and nonexistent performance testing.

 You Need A Clever Solution, Fast

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The Seven Qualities Of Wildly Desirable Software

Cosmopolitan magazine certainly doesn't publish articles such as "Seven Hairstyles That Will Make Your Man Yawn." Wildly desirable is more like it. And so too, is it with great software. If you want your applications to be successful, you better make them wildly desirable.

My latest published research has identified seven key qualities that all applications must exhibit to be wildly desirable, with our choices based on research and inquiries on software design and architecture; assessment advisories with clients; and interviews with leading experts, including both practitioners and academics.

Forrester defines the seven qualities of software as:

The common requirements that all software applications must satisfy to be successful: user experience, availability, performance, scalability, adaptability, security, and economy.

Seven Qualities Of Wildly Desirable Apps

All seven qualities are important, but if you get the user experience (UX) wrong, nothing else matters.

The UX is the part of your application that your employees and/or customers see and use daily. You can do an exceptional job on project management, requirements gathering, data management, testing, and coding, but if the user experience is poor, your results still be mediocre — or even a complete failure.

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Looking At The Nokia Microsoft Deal From The Mobile Apps Perspective

Today’s deal between Microsoft and Nokia acts as a temporary lifeline for both companies. It gives Microsoft access to the largest handset provider, and it allows Nokia to defray some of its operating system development costs. I have just finished a report, “Mobile App Internet Recasts The Software And Services Landscape,” that will hit the Forrester site on Monday, February 28.

In the report, Forrester states, “The explosion of app innovation that started on the iPhone and then spread to Android devices and tablets will continue to drive tech industry innovation and have far-reaching pricing and go-to-market implications for the industry. Three different vectors of innovation that have been percolating under the surface will combine over the next 3-5 years. Mobile, cloud, and smart computing together will foster a new set of 'intelligence everywhere' apps.”

And based on that research, I believe that deal does not address the biggest issue for both companies – attracting apps and app developers. For Nokia, it now sends the message that Symbian and MeeGo platforms are no longer the long-term app focus. For Microsoft, it creates an eight-to-twelve month void/pause as developers wait to see what the new Nokia hardware looks like.

At the current rate that Apple and Android are recruiting third-party and enterprise app developers, this could mean a gap of 100,000-200,000 applications by the time the first Nokia Windows Phone device ships. This is likely a lead that even the combined resources of Microsoft and Nokia could not bridge.

Waves of Innovation Continue to Transform Enterprise Data Warehousing Market

Every Forrester Wave is an in-depth snapshot of an entire vendor market segment at a particular point in time. 

Yesterday was that point in time for the latest update to the Forrester Wave for Enterprise Data Warehousing (EDW) Platforms. We just published this update after a grueling 8-month process of revisiting the criteria, scales, and weights associated with the most differentiating features of EDW vendors’ complex solution value propositions. Clearly, the EDW market has evolved considerably in the 2 years since we published the first installment of the Wave. 

At the highest level of analysis, what’s new? For starters, more vendors made the crucial inclusion criterion of having at least 100 customers with in-production EDW deployments. The field this time around included all seven vendors in the 2009 Wave, plus Greenplum (now part of EMC) and Vertica. Clearly, big-brand EDW mergers and acquisitions consolidated the original seven down to 5, as IBM acquired Netezza and SAP purchased Sybase. Please bear in mind that, as these acquisitions were reasonably recent, we chose to evaluate the acquired vendors’ offerings separately from their new parents' pre-acquisition EDW offerings in this latest Wave (it's worth noting that neither IBM nor SAP has slightest intention of discontinuing their pre-acquisition EDW portfolios--if anything, they're both now evolving those product families even more aggressively post-acquisition). 

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Windows Phone 7 Is Invited To The Mobile Dance By Nokia

Make no mistake about Nokia's global power. They are still the dominant handset maker globally. But Nokia somehow missed the shift to the handheld computers we call smartphones and tablets.

Make no mistake about Microsoft's tenacity. They will drop a cool billion to enter a market. But they have tried and tried and tried again to build an operating system that can work on the handheld computes we call smartphones and tablets.

Well, Windows Phone 7 (now where did the "7" come from?) is a good mobile OS, at least on smartphones. No idea whether it will work on tablets. (We know Windows 7 itself won't.)

And Nokia's smartphone platforms like the E7 are a decent piece of hardware.

Now that these two megaliths are partnering up, Microsoft's mobile OS has a chance for relevance. I and my colleagues have predicted and urged you, our enterprise customers, to focus on three mobile platforms: Apple's iOS, Google's Android, and RIM's QNX. Well, it's time to take a flier on Microsoft as well.

It's way too early to tell if this partnership will be successful or if anybody, particularly your US and European employees, will care about Nokia smartphones or tablets running Windows Phone 7. But if they nail the product experience. If they sign up the carriers. If they quickly roll out a good, competitively-priced tablet running the same Windows Phone OS. If they port Word and PowerPoint and OneNote and Excel and SharePoint Workspace to that tablet and phones. If they attract ISVs. If they attract independent developers. If they build a decent app store. If they sign up the mobile device management vendors. If they execute brilliantly. Then they could be relevant.

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How Autodesk Tackles The Next Frontier Of IT-For-Green

How Autodesk Tackles the Next Frontier of IT-for-Green
My travels last month took me back to the Bay Area for client meetings and a chance to spend some time at the Autodesk Gallery, a very cool space near the ferry building in San Francisco. Autodesk uses it to show off its customers' design innovations, not coincidentally created using the company's design software. The event in January showcased how customers are using Autodesk visualization software to improve the sustainability of their product designs and implementations. This is tackling sustainability right at its core: making products that are more energy- and resource-efficient, easier to manufacture, easier to reuse and recycle, right from the start. The products we saw at the event included:
  • A new research facility at NASA Ames down the peninsula. This super-green building is aimed at "beyond" LEED Platinum standards, incorporating a variety of innovative design and engineering elements all captured in building information modeling (BIM) software. The Feds will use it as a laboratory for energy efficient buildings, spreading its best practices and learnings across the broad portfolio of US government buildings and research facilities. NASA is also working to make the design blueprint a working model for efficient ongoing operation of the building.
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BSM Rediscovered

I have in the past lamented the evolution of BSM into more of an ITIL support solution than the pure IT management project that we embarked on seven years ago. In the early years of BSM, we all were convinced of the importance of application dependency discovery: It was the bridge between the user, who sees an application, and IT, which sees infrastructures. We were all convinced that discovery tools should be embedded in infrastructure management solutions to improve them. I remember conversations with all big four product managers, and we all agreed at the time that the “repository” of dependencies, later to become CMDB, was not a standalone solution. How little we knew!

 What actually happened was the discovery tools showed a lot of limitations and the imperfect CMDB that was the result became the center of ITIL v2 universe. The two essential components that we saw in BSM for improving the breed of system management tools were quietly forgotten. These two major failures are: 1) real-time dependency discovery — because last month’s application dependencies are as good as yesterday’s newspaper when it comes to root cause analysis or change detection, and 2) the reworking of tools around these dependencies — because it added a level of visibility and intelligence that was sorely lacking in the then current batch of monitoring and management solutions. But there is hope on the IT operations horizon.

These past few days, I have been briefed by two new companies that are actually going back to the roots of BSM.

Neebula has introduced a real-time discovery solution that continuously updates itself and is embedded into an intelligent event and impact analysis monitor. It also discovers applications in the cloud.

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Spring Training For Microsoft Negotiators

It’s a beautiful sunny day here in England, the first snowdrops have appeared in my garden and at least one of my pet hens has restarted laying – yes, Spring is on the way. Meanwhile, in the US the main harbinger of the changing season is the migration of baseball teams to Florida and Arizona for their annual pre-season ritual known as ‘Spring Training’. In the software sourcing world, the rites of Spring often include major negotiations with Oracle and Microsoft ahead of their fiscal year ends of May and June respectively. That’s why this is a perfect time of year to get some spring training of your own, at one of our ever-popular Microsoft Negotiation workshops.1 Anyone considering a major purchase or renewal with the Redmond Sluggers between now and the World Series should come along to Amsterdam on February 16 or Dallas on March 2 to hear why they may have extra leverage this year, and how to use it to get the best possible deal.

Microsoft had very high sales revenue for its December quarter, particularly the business division, but that didn’t come from the multi-year Enterprise Agreement (EA) and Software Assurance (SA) deals that the direct sales teams need. Microsoft’s revenue boost came from one-off purchases of its just-released Office 2010 product through its retail and small business programs. EA/ SA deals would initially appear in the accounts as unearned revenue in the balance sheet, and that was at the same level as two years earlier.2 So these results are consistent with our research that predicts that Microsoft’s direct sales teams will struggle to meet their tough EA bookings targets this year, and that will strengthen prospective buyers’ negotiating position.

We can’t promise warm weather or adoring fans, but our spring training session will help you with:

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HP Synergy, Not WebOS, Is What Will Differentiate HP

 Today, I attended the HP webOS event at the Fort Mason Center, San Francisco. My colleague Sarah Rotman Epps is writing about the TouchPad, but I’m more interested in where HP takes webOS and how it relates to the Personal Cloud idea I first published more than a year ago.

 I'm interested in where HP will take webOS — HP won't stick to just consumer markets, and it won't just build smartphones and tablets. Todd Bradley, HP’s EVP for Personal Systems Group, announced that HP will put webOS on PCs and printers before the end of the year.

 Two strategic things that I think HP will do: 

  • Put webOS on business PCs, not just consumer PCs. HP has long wanted more control and differentiation than they can get just putting a UI layer on Windows. HP will create conventional PCs with webOS, to stretch the webOS into the core personal devices market. That creates a much larger market for developers, which is vital to succeeding with a new OS. At the event, HP’s Steven McArthur, SVP Applications and Services, said HP plans to "build the largest installed base of connected devices in the world." 
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Nasdaq Hack Brings Security Issues Into The Boardroom

 Have you been having trouble getting your board of directors to care about information security? This weekend’s news that Nasdaq’s Directors Desk web application was compromised by hackers may help to improve your situation.

Details have been elusive thus far, but reports indicate that multiple breaches occurred, resulting in “suspicious files” on the company’s servers. A statement released by Nasdaq assures us that its trading systems and customer data were not compromised, and those in the know tend to agree that infiltrating the trading systems would be substantially more difficult than breaking into the web environment and leaving a few files behind. As the investigation continues, hopefully we'll learn more, but what can we take away from this story so far?

  • The list of attractive hacker targets continues to grow. Whoever perpetrated this breach chose not to go after traditionally lucrative targets like customer/employee data or a more difficult and devastating attempt to dismantle one of the world’s biggest exchanges. Instead the target was a more accessible set of extremely sensitive corporate data – details about mergers, acquisitions, dividends, and earnings. Without much sophistication, criminals could use this information to execute rather impressive “insider trading” transactions or simply find an outlet like WikiLeaks for some of the more embarrassing tidbits.
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