AMD Acquires SeaMicro — Big Bet On Architectural Shift For Servers

At its recent financial analyst day, AMD indicated that it intended to differentiate itself by creating products that were advantaged in niche markets, with specific mention, among other segments, of servers, and to generally shake up the trench warfare that has had it on the losing side of its lifelong battle with Intel (my interpretation, not AMD management’s words). Today, at least for the server side of the business AMD made a move that can potentially offer it visibility and differentiation by acquiring innovative server startup SeaMicro.

SeaMicro has attracted our attention since its appearance (blog post 1, blog post 2), with its innovative architecture that dramatically reduces power and improves density by sharing components like I/O adapters, disks, and even BIOS over a proprietary fabric. The irony here is that SeaMicro came to market with a tight alignment with Intel, who at one point even introduced a special dual-core packaging of its Atom CPU to allow SeaMicro to improve its density and power efficiency. Most recently SeaMicro and Intel announced a new model that featured Xeon CPUs to address the more mainstream segments that were not for SeaMicro’s original Atom-based offering.

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WikiLeaks And Stratfor Make The Case For More Data Encryption

Yesterday, WikiLeaks released emails taken in the highly-publicized Stratfor data breach. While many of the emails are innocuous, such as accusations regarding a stolen lunch from the company refrigerator; others are potentially highly embarrassing to both Stratfor and their corporate clients. The emails reveal some messy corporate spycraft that is usually seen in the movies and rarely is illumined in real life. For example, one email suggests that Stratfor is working on behalf of Coca-Cola to uncover information to determine if PETA was planning on disrupting the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games.

While Stratfor’s response suggests that some of the emails may have been tampered with, this is not the point. As the soon-to-be infamous “Lunch Theft” email shows, that might be merely what the email calls Fred's rule # 2: “Admit nothing, deny everything and make counter-accusations.”

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Selling Business Process Transformation To The C Suite

My colleague, Principal Analyst Derek Miers, wrote something so significant in an email today that it gave me pause:

“It’s all about helping the executive understand the causal relationship between customer (success), process (how it gets done), and business results (revenue growth, profit, and sustainability of the business model). They are all tied up together.”

I could even see the picture in my mind:

 

 

 

 

Yet all too often CIOs and other business process leaders focus on getting the business process right and explaining business process methodologies to others. They use many comfortable and familiar terms, like:

  • Process improvement
  • Process excellence
  • Process quality
  • Business process management
  • BPM suites
  • Business process transformation
  • Lean
  • Six Sigma/Lean Six Sigma
  • Or even: swim lanes, BPMN, process models, roundtripping, and so forth.
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Amazon Makes Debut In India Through Junglee.Com: What It Means For Buyers, Sellers, And Competitors

In early February 2011, Amazon launched Junglee.Com as a marketplace in India. In 1998, Amazon had acquired Junglee (which means "wild" in English), an online virtual database-making company, and after 13 years now it has shown its affection to the "Junglee" domain name. The reason is that Amazon can’t sell directly in India due to FDI laws that restrict foreign companies on multibrand retail in the country. Nevertheless, the Indian law does allow foreign players to operate as an online marketplace to connect sellers and buyers with each other. Amazon is following this approach by partnering with both online (Snapdeal, Univercell, etc.) and offline (HomeShop18, Bombay Store, etc.) players in the country before it makes a full-fledged entry through an "Amazon.in"-type domain. Also, Amazon just received the Indian Government’s FDI approval to set up a logistics operation. The company plans to invest INR 15 crore (around US$ 3.06 million) to set up a wholly owned subsidiary to undertake the business of online marketplace operator and retailer inter-alia courier services.

Let’s look at what Amazon’s entry through Junglee.com means for online buyers, suppliers, and competitors:

Sellers: More Business And Some Risk

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Microsoft Aligns Its UK & Swiss Pricing With The Rest Of Europe, But Not, Alas, With US

Microsoft recently announced that it will change to its European currency pricing policy from July 2012, and the effect could be a 20% price increase for UK customers. It didn’t publicize the change, preferring to let its resellers tell their customers as and when the change affects them, so I thought I’d tell my readers what you need to know. Firstly, here is some background. Most global software companies have one master price list in their home currency and reset price lists in other currencies every year or even every quarter using then-current exchange rates. Microsoft has always taken a different approach, having set €, £, and other prices in 2001 and continuing to use the same exchange rate ever since. There are pros and cons to this approach:

·         Pro: local prices are stable and predictable. In contrast, € and £ prices from other US-based vendors may rise or fall by 20% from one year to the next as the currencies fluctuate. (This is one reason why SAP’s revenue rises and Oracle’s falls when the € weakens against the $, as these price changes affect demand.)

·         Con: European companies pay more than their US-based peers. This doesn’t matter so much if you’re only competing with domestic rivals, but global companies see and resent the discrepancies.

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Is This The End Of India's IT Services Success Story?

I’m currently working on a report entitled “IP-Based Solutions Will Transform The Global IT Services Industry.” In a nutshell, I believe that the business model of IT services firms (consulting firms, systems integrators, and outsourcing firms) will transform from a traditional human capital-intensive model to a software capital-intensive model over the next five years. As I will detail in my report, I believe this transformation will have far-reaching implications on the IT services firms’ organizations, including their sales, marketing, portfolio management, and delivery capabilities.

As I’m based in India, I also see this change as a major disruption for India’s export-oriented IT services industry (AKA “offshore services”). I believe that the growth model for India’s IT/ITeS industry’s in the next 20 years will be much different than it has been for the past 20 years. Software assets — what I also call IP-based solutions — will become critical to the competitiveness of the Indian IT services industry. The recent investments of companies like Infosys, HCL, and NIIT Technologies in such IP-based offerings are strong proof points.

This means a couple of things for the Indian industry:

  • The Indian IT/ITeS industry will create far fewer jobs than in the past. This is what some Indian firms refer to as “non-linear” business models.
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Decide Now: Is SharePoint In The Cloud For You?

Rob Koplowitz and I collaborated on this research.

The days of Microsoft SharePoint being only a locally installed software product are over. Microsoft's commitment to SharePoint in the cloud is evident in its massive data-center investments, its costly retrofitting of the code base to support multitenancy and access via subscription, and its emphasis on "cloud" in sales and marketing efforts. SharePoint Online's potential value is intriguing: lower costs, faster implementations, automatic upgrades, and more. The reality: Office 365/SharePoint Online are still only release two, and Microsoft usually needs three releases to get a product right. The questions you face: Will SharePoint in the cloud work for your organization? Is your organization ready to capture the benefits now? Should you wait for the proverbial release three of this Microsoft product — or should you engage now? This research answers these questions using the experiences of early SharePoint Online adopters and analysis of Microsoft's product capabilities today.

In Forrester's experience, most application development and delivery (AD&D) professionals do not fully understand either the significance or impact of SharePoint's shift into the cloud. How could they? Most have no experience with either of Microsoft's SharePoint-in-the-cloud offerings — Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) or its successor, the SharePoint Online component of the Office 365 suite. Those who do have experience with SharePoint in the cloud can help the rest of us begin to plan for the shift ahead — and according to them, we'll need very thorough plans to succeed.

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Mobile World Congress Barcelona 2012: Understanding The Engagement Context

Starting Monday, there will be a cavalcade of announcements at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. While many suppliers will continue the phone and tablet hardware arms race, it is more important to understand what is really going on here: mobile engagement. Ted Schadler and I have just finished a report for Forrester clients, “Mobile Is The New Face Of Engagement,” that provides the background to put these announcements into context. The report makes clear that mobile is not simply another device for IT to support with a shrunken website or a screen-scraped SAP application. Rather, mobile is the manifestation of a much broader shift to new systems of engagement. These systems of engagement help firms empower their customers, partners, and employees with context-aware apps and smart products (see the figure below).

So as you walk the show floor or read about the announcements, think differently about what you are seeing:

  • Are the tools just first-gen screen-scraping/tiny Web or do they really leverage context — the person’s location, preferences, and history — to engage? There will be a bevy of software products that help firms slim down their websites for viewing on mobile devices, but the real innovation will come from tools and engagement platforms that use predictive analytics and social feedback to create a full context that better serves customers and employees.
  • Are the hardware announcements kicking off another round of the device wars or a new generation of smart products powered by apps? In addition to the latest Android, RIM, and Windows Mobile press releases, there will be a whole new set of smart cars, appliances, and other products where mobile apps provide key features by taking advantage of smart product APIs.
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Dell Gets Serious About Backup & Recovery For SMBs

I woke up this morning to interesting news: Dell announcing that they acquired backup software company AppAssure, marking the first acquisition made by John Swainson, the new president of Dell Software Group. This is actually the second significant announcement from Dell this year around backup. A little more than a month ago, the company also came to market with a new SMB backup appliance, the DR4000, based on IP from Ocarina (acquired in 2010). These two announcements in quick succession, coupled with the late 2011 news that Dell will no longer be reselling EMC Data Domain, signals that Dell is finally getting serious about addressing the backup and recovery market.

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Beware Of Mobile's Unintended Consequences (Part 1)

[This is the second in a series of posts on our report for Forrester clients, "Mobile Is The New Face Of Engagement."]

A successful smartphone app is great, right? Especially when it fronts a system of engagement that lets people click and serve themselves in their moment of need rather than waiting until they can fire up a computer and go online. Or (gasp), dial the phone and tie up some customer service rep's time in India or Africa or Fargo. The mobile engagement is 10 times more convenient than traditional Web and one tenth the cost of a call center contact. So what could possibly go wrong?

In short, just about everything that could go wrong does go wrong when consumer brands, retailers, and B2B companies open up their mobile engagement channel. In this first of several posts on mobile's unintended consequences, we'll describe the unbelievable success that mobile can bring. In future posts, we'll expose the sheer technological ugliness that lies behind those consequences and lay the groundwork for enterprise mobile engagement.

First, the unbelievable success that a mobile app can have (see the figure below):

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