Enterprise laptops are on the shopping list for many I&O professionals I speak with every week, with some asking if Netbooks are the antidote to the MacBook Air for their people. Well, on the menu of enterprise laptops, I think of Netbooks as an appetizer -- inexpensive, but after an hour my stomach is growling again. Garden-variety ultraportables on the other hand are like a turkey sandwich -- everything I need to keep me going, but they make me sleepy halfway through the afternoon.
Ultrabooks are a new class of notebook promoted by Intel and are supposed to be a little more like caviar and champagne -- light and powerful, but served on business-class china with real silverware and espresso. At least that's what I took away after being briefed by Intel on the topic. I had the chance to sample HP's new Ultrabook fare in San Francisco a few weeks ago while they were still in the test kitchen, and it seems they took a little different approach. Not bad, just different.
It struck me that rather than beluga and Dom Perignon , HP has created more of a Happy Meal -- a tasty cheeseburger and small fries with a Diet Coke, in a lightweight, easy to carry package for a bargain price. It has everything the road warrior needs to get things done, and like a Happy Meal, they can carry it on the plane and set it on the tray table…even if the clown in front of them reclines. Folio offers the Core i5-2467M processor, 4GB RAM, a 13.3" LED display and a 128GB SSD storage, a 9-hour battery and USB 3.0 + Ethernet ports as highlights, all for $900. It's a true bargain. I think I will call it the McUltrabook.
It's not the business leaders or the rank employees either. While all of these choice make sense and all are, according to our Forrights surveys, more excited by it than infrastructure & operations professionals, it's the person who supposedly has the most to gain from it -- your CFO.
One of the things that truly differentiates Forrester Research from other analyst firms is the breadth of conversations we have with clients and the range of employees in an enterprise that we survey. We serve not only those in IT roles across the world but those in marketing, sales and strategy roles too. And our Forrsights surveys complete the picture by talking with CFOs, CEOs, workplace professionals and of course consumers. This breadth gives us the ability to present 360-degree views on certain key topics such as mobility and cloud computing. And it is through this holistic view that you get a real psychograph of the enterprise and can examine and respond to these differences in opinion and consumption.
This week AMD finally released their AMD 6200 and 4200 series CPUs. These are the long-awaited server-oriented Interlagos and Valencia CPUs, based on their new “Bulldozer” core, offering up to 16 x86 cores in a single socket. The announcement was targeted at (drum roll, one guess per customer only) … “The Cloud.” AMD appears to be positioning its new architectures as the platform of choice for cloud-oriented workloads, focusing on highly threaded throughput oriented benchmarks that take full advantage of its high core count and unique floating point architecture, along with what look like excellent throughput per Watt metrics.
At the same time it is pushing the now seemingly mandatory “cloud” message, AMD is not ignoring the meat-and-potatoes enterprise workloads that have been the mainstay of server CPUs sales –virtualization, database, and HPC, where the combination of many cores, excellent memory bandwidth and large memory configurations should yield excellent results. In its competitive comparisons, AMD targets Intel’s 5640 CPU, which it claims represents Intel’s most widely used Xeon CPU, and shows very favorable comparisons in regards to performance, price and power consumption. Among the features that AMD cites as contributing to these results are:
Advanced power and thermal management, including the ability to power off inactive cores contributing to an idle power of less than 4.4W per core. Interlagos offers a unique capability called TDP, which allows I&O groups to set the total power threshold of the CPU in 1W increments to allow fine-grained tailoring of power in the server racks.
Turbo CORE, which allows boosting the clock speed of cores by up to 1 GHz for half the cores or 500 MHz for all the cores, depending on workload.
Last week, I presented at the itSMF UK’s annual conference on the subject of value or, more specifically, I hid an awful lot of IT financial management-related content behind the title: “Anybody Questioning Your Value?” Importantly, this is not IT value; I am referring to business value.
It was a surprising session in many ways. Firstly, the number of attendees (I didn’t count them but I would guestimate about 80 ... I’m sure my IT service management peers in attendance will now quickly tell me it was a lot, lot less). Secondly, that they all seemed to stay to the end (well bar one worried-looking lady who left in a rush early on ... I assumed a Sev1 incident or an upset tummy, or both).
The third surprise was the response to a simple question I posed:
If your CEO or CFO stopped you in the corridor and asked, “I like the look of this Gmail-for-business thingy, how does it compare cost-wise with our internal email service?” Would you know the per-unit cost of delivering your corporate email service?
The surprise? Not one person in the room admitted to knowing what their corporate email service costs. I expected to see a low number of raised hands but not a wave-less sea of hands-in-laps. Unfortunately, being unable to answer such off-the-cuff and more formal questions around costs and value can only expose the absence of I&O’s business savvy and lack of cost-awareness. This is not a place I&O wants to be in right now (or ever).
It’s a tried-and-true in-store promotional tactic: the book signing. Authors tour bookstores, meet their fans, and sign copies of a book that was bought in the store that day.
How can book signings be updated for the 21st century? Barnes and Noble, with its Nook devices and its rapidly expanding Nook Boutiques, has an opportunity to create a total product experience around its Nook devices and digital books. Let's call it a Nook Signing, a theoretical Forrester product idea for Barnes and Noble to consider.
Leveraging its in-store Wi-Fi, Barnes and Noble could host a series of Nook Signing events – special book signing events only for owners of Nook devices (or those willing to buy them in store that day).
The event would feature marquee bestselling authors like George RR Martin or other authors with vociferous, loyal fans. (Barnes and Noble would have to incentivize these authors).
Attendees would get to meet the author, but more importantly, would receive an in-store download over Barnes and Noble’s Wi-Fi, receiving unique, brand-new content on their Nooks. For example, Nook Tablet and Nook color devices could receive a video from George R.R. Martin offering up an exclusive tidbit about his next book.
What happens next? Nook Signing attendees use their Facebook, Twitter, and other social media accounts to tell the world the news about George R.R. Martin’s next book ... which they learned about at the Nook Signing.
It might be best to think of last year’s predictions as less about what would happen in a twelve month period and more about trends we identified that we felt would have lasting impact on the infrastructure & operations (I&O) professional and the market in general. Thus we felt progress was made along most of these lines. Here's a quick look at what we predicted and where we went astray:
A couple of weeks ago, I proposed that I&O Professionals should repeal Mac prohibition and find ways to empower employees who are choosing Macs in increasing numbers and bringing them to the office. This was based on fresh 2011 research with Forrester clients, vendors and survey respondents, and concluded that not only were the numbers of Macs in enterprises increasing rapidly, but that the people choosing their own technology for the office, are often the highest performers.
Philip Elmer-DeWitt of Fortune's Apple 2.0 picked it up right away and made a very astute observation: that Forrester's stance on Macs in the enterprise had seemingly flip-flopped. His conclusion was based on a 2007 Forrester report on enterprise desktop trends in which Forrester observed: "Macs can be ignored for all but niche business groups." The conclusion was based on the data of the time, which showed Microsoft's enterprise desktop market share at 95%, but also noted that Apple's had doubled. We also observed in the same report that "Microsoft is not innovating," and "Vista is having a tough time in enterprises," based on data which showed slow uptake of Windows Vista and Internet Explorer 7.
Last week Vendor X was briefing me on a set of new switches. The projector started rolling with a nice webconference slide deck and a voiceover highlighting customer requirements. It wasn’t long before I felt like Phil Connors (Bill Murray) from the movie Groundhog Day, listening to a radio DJ ask listeners if Punxsutawney Phil was going to see his shadow. This déjà vu moment wasn’t another data center networking briefing but, surprisingly, one about network campus switches.
The past five years have been an era of contraction. Businesses put cost-cutting on the top of their lists and virtualization and consolidation were the panacea for efficiency gains, becoming the shiny ball vendors used to lure customers into buying new solutions. As a result, every networking vendor has been rolling out solutions to address virtual machine (VM) mobility and storage convergence. However, priorities are changing: Revenue growth has just outranked cost-cutting in a Forrester survey of IT executives. I&O teams are altering their focus from where the VMs connect to the other edge where users hook in.
Forrester just published parts I & II of its market overview of the public cloud market and these reports, written primarily for the Infrastructure & Operations (I&O) professionals, reveal as much about you – the customers of the clouds – as it does about the clouds themselves.
As discussed during our client teleconference about these reports, clearly the Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) market is maturing and evolving and the vendors are adapting their solutions to deliver greater value to their current customers and appeal to a broader set of buyers. In the case of pure clouds such as Amazon Web Services, GoGrid and Joyent, the current customers are developers who are mostly building new applications on these platforms. Their demands focus on enabling greater innovation, performance, scale, autonomy and productivity. To broaden the appeal of their cloud services, they aim to deliver better transparency, monitoring, security and support – all things that appeal more to I&O and security & risk managers (SRM).
As many of you know, Forrester conducted a joint research study earlier this year, in conjunction with the US chapter of the IT Service Management Forum (itSMF-USA). The report is finally now available to the deserving. Forrester clients can download it using the normal access methods. Members of itSMF-USA will receive their copy from itSMF-USA. If you contributed, but do not fall into either category, Forrester will be sending you your copy.
You can read a few of the finding in my original post announcing the completion of the study. An example of the findings is the level of satisfaction with service desk solutions. While satisfaction in general is higher than one would think, a SaaS model has proven especially satisfactory:
Please let me know if you are having difficulty obtaining your report. Thank you again for all the participation that led us to these findings! We look forward to next year’s study!