Microsoft's Office 365 Release Marks More Than Just The Delivery Of A New Platform

Microsoft is in a very critical period with their fiscal year ending this week, as my colleague Duncan Jones recently wrote. But today, Steve Ballmer is announcing one of Microsoft’s most important products in the company’s history – Office 365. Sound like an embellishment? It’s not – and it’s because Office 365’s release is not just the launch of a new technical solution for customers, but also a change in the relationship with their customers. Microsoft’s Office 365 is the single biggest change to the Microsoft customer relationship since the introduction of Software Assurance and the modern Enterprise Agreement in 2001.

For those that are blissfully unaware of Microsoft licensing, Software Assurance is Microsoft’s software maintenance relationship with customers and represents a large part of Microsoft’s predictable annual income. I wrote earlier about how cloud services like Windows Intune change the nature of this relationship – from one based on rights to upgrades and later releases of software, which for some customers had questionable predictable value – to one where a customer sees more predictable value by delivering benefits and services that truly offset internal costs. We know that we sink large sums of time and money into running email and collaboration services ourselves. Microsoft takes on far more responsibility and Office 365 exemplifies that motion. Cloud services solve Microsoft’s greatest challenge, building an annuity relationship with a customer that will be less risky to continue to deliver.

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2011: An ITIL Versioning Odyssey

 

OK, so we all probably now know that the long-awaited ITIL “refresh,” ITIL v3.1 (or the ITIL 2011 Edition as it now seems to be called), is to be released on the 29th July 2011. But four years on from the release of ITIL v3 where are we exactly?

Let’s start with the provided facts about the updated version of ITIL. The ITIL Best Practice Management update points out that this is an “update” not a new version. Paraphrasing the update on the update, ITIL 2011 Edition is designed to:

  • Resolve any errors or inconsistencies.
  • Improve the ITIL publications by addressing issues raised to do with "clarity, consistency, correctness and completeness."
  • Address suggestions for change made by the training community.
  • Review the "Service Strategy" publication to improve accessibility and understanding.
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Tablets And Mass Customization: A Match Made In Heaven

With a hat tip to the mass-customization.info blog, a screen shot showing that the latest Blackberry Playbook commercial depicts a mass customization experience – the Converse Design Your Own collection. (See the entire video here).

Sarah Rotman Epps is the senior analyst on my team who leads our research on tablets (and consumer computing) for product strategy professionals. She’s written extensively about the future of tablets but also about the characteristics of software and media experiences that succeed on tablets. (Forrester clients can read “Best Practices for Media Apps,” for instance). At the same time, I have written about how mass customization is finally the future of products in an age when customer-centricity reigns.

Tablets and configurators – the typical tool that consumers use to co-design customized products – are a match made in heaven. They share a number of characteristics that product strategists should consider when developing mass-customized product interfaces. For example, they both:

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Getting Started With ITIL – The 30-Minute Version

Time is valuable, so many of us are cash rich and time poor these days. We value simplicity and loathe the complex. Things need to be done yesterday, if not before. 

I can only see this getting worse as we are pressured to deliver the proverbial "more with less."

To elaborate, and it's a little tongue in cheek, Flash only had 14 hours to save earth. Twitter only allows us 140 characters to express ourselves. Shorter industry analyst pieces seem to be in vogue and, thankfully, in demand. BUT trying to tell someone how to get started with ITIL in 30 minutes is a bit of a challenge.

Well I'm up for it, and here is my starter for 10 …

To begin:

  • It’s about adopting not implementing ITIL
  • Take an adopt-and-adapt approach. Use what you need rather than everything. It’s a framework not a standard
  • It should be people then process then technology

People:

  • Do not underestimate the importance of people and their behaviors to ITIL success
  • ITIL is culture-based. A way of thinking as well as a way of working … IT delivered as a service (ITIL v2) … the Service Lifecycle (ITIL v3)
    • Too many organizations adopt ITIL without subscribing to its concepts
    • Many organizations stick with the common/core processes, never moving from these reactive processes to the more value-adding proactive processes
    • Many organizations say that they “do” ITIL v3 when all they “do” is a subset of the ITIL v2 processes and have bought Service Catalog technology and/or sent staff on an ITIL v3 course
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Support IT Service Management Tool Vendors That Support The ITSM Community

On a recent recording of the IT Service Management Weekly Podcast Rest of the World Edition (#ITSMWPROW on Twitter), one of my co-hosts - James Finister, an ITSM consultant at TCS (Tata Consultancy Services) - proposed an interesting new selection criteria for ITSM tool selection; this being the vendor's level of ITSM community support. To me it made a lot of sense: the US likes to buy American, France likes to buy French, and the UK likes to buy British (if the wind is blowing in the right direction in the latter’s case). So why shouldn't ITSM tool vendors be rewarded for the role they play in supporting the ITSM community? After all, ITIL adoption is allegedly a journey rather than a time-boxed technology implementation project. IMHO, selling technology and one-time professional services just isn’t enough when it comes to ITSM.

To put this in context, I’ve visited a fair few UK-located ITSM events in the last couple of years and I will always gauge who is and isn't there from the ITSM tool vendor-world perspective. To me, the non-attendance of high-profile ITSM tool vendors (both Big 4 and pure-play) at events such as the itSMFUK annual conference or the Service Desk and IT Support Show shows a disregard to their existing and potential customer base (in this instance in the UK and Europe), as well as a lack of understanding of the existing and growing sense of community within the ITSM ecosystem. In many respects, customers of ITSM tools are starting to bite back, so why should the ITSM tool selection process be any different?

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HP Versus Oracle -- From Ugly To Uglier As HP Takes To The Courts

On June 15, HP announced that it had filed suit against Oracle, saying in a statement:

“HP is seeking the court’s assistance to compel Oracle to:

  • Reverse its decision to discontinue all software development on the Itanium platform

  • Reaffirm its commitment to offer its product suite on HP platforms, including Itanium;

  • Immediately reset the Itanium core processor licensing factor consistent with the model prior to December 1, 2010 for RISC/EPIC systems

 HP also seeks:

  • Injunctive relief, including an order prohibiting Oracle from making false and misleading statements regarding the Itanium microprocessor or HP’s Itanium-based servers and remedying the harm caused by Oracle’s conduct.

  • Damages and fees and other standard remedies available in cases of this nature.”

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HP Stirs The Pot With New Converged Infrastructure Offerings

HP this week really stirred up the Converged Infrastructure world by introducing three new solution offerings, one an incremental evolution of an existing offering and the other two representing new options which will put increased pressure on competitors. The trio includes:

  • HP VirtualSystem - HP’s answer to vStart, Flex Pod and vBlocks, VirtualSystem is a pre-integrated stack of servers (blade and racked options), HP network switches and HP Converged Storage (3Par and Left Hand Networks iSCSI) along with software, including the relevant OS and virtualization software. Clients can choose from four scalable deployment options that support up to 750, 2500 or 6000 virtual servers or up to 3000 virtual clients. It supports Microsoft and Linux along with VMware and Citrix. Since this product is new, announced within weeks of the publication of this document, we have had limited exposure it, but HP claims that they have added significant value in terms of optimized infrastructure, automation of VM deployment, management and security. In addition, HP will be offering a variety of services and hosting options along with VirtualSystem. Forrester expects that VirtualSystem will change the existing competitive dynamics and will result in a general uptick of interest it similar solutions. HP is positioning VirtualSystem as a growth path to CloudSystem, with what they describe as a “streamlined” upgrade path to a hybrid cloud environment.
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Are Banks Using Cloud Computing? A Definitive Yes.

Ever since 2009 when NIST published its first definition of cloud computing there has been a promise of community clouds, and now we finally have a second one in the financial services market, thanks to NYSE Technologies. The IT arm of NYSE Euronext announced beta of Capital Markets Community Platform, its cloud computing offering this week, and the effort, on the surface, is a good example for other vertical markets to follow.

For years, financial services firms such as investment banks and hedge funds have been competing on trade execution speed and volume -- where milliseconds per trade can translate into billions of dollars in competitive advantage. And in doing so, they have found that you can't beat the speed of light. Thus if you want very, very fast connections to the stock market, you need to be as close to the servers used by the market as possible. The way to do this prior was to find out where the data center for an exchange was located and put your servers as close as possible and hopefully on the same network backbone. If the exchange was in a colocation facility, then you wanted the cage right next door. This method gave larger investment banks a distinct advantage as you had to be able to afford a full cage and have priority access.

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SMARTnet Is Dead! Long Live The Lifetime Warranty!

Just kidding, Cisco’s SMARTnet isn’t dead, but I&O managers have a new warranty for networking hardware: free hardware replacement, bug fixes, and tech support. Basically, enterprises can expect to get a basic break-and-fix solution free from most vendors on edge and distribution switches or switch/routers. Hallelujah!

Everyone owes a big thank-you to HP. Over the past 10 years, while holding less than 5% of the market, HP’s ProCurve line forced its competitors’ hands, reset the industry’s warranty choices, and revolutionized what customers should expect from their networking vendors. By leveraging the lifetime warranty to separate themselves from the other seven dwarfs and Gigantor while trying to offset “you get what you pay for,” HP went to market offering next business day replacement on the hardware, phone and email support, along with software bug fixes and updates. They wanted customers to understand that only companies that delivered quality products could sustain this type of service model. HP extended the warranty out to some of the 3Com/H3C products -- after the acquisition -- too.

Within the past two years, most vendors have followed suit and offered their version of a lifetime warranty:

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