What Will The Future Of IT (And Technology) Look Like?

At a CIO roundtable that Forrester held recently in Sydney, I presented one of my favourite slides (originally seen in a deck from my colleague Ted Schadler) about what has happened r.e. technology since January 2007 (a little over five years ago). The slide goes like this: 

Source: Forrester Research, 2012

This makes me wonder: what the next five years will hold for us? Forecasts tend to be made assuming most things remain the same – and I bet in 2007 few people saw all of these changes coming… What unforeseen changes might we see?

  • Will the whole concept of the enterprise disappear as barriers to entry disappear across many market segments?
  • Will the next generation reject the “public persona” that is typical in the Facebook generation and perhaps return to “traditional values”?
  • How will markets respond to the aging consumer in nearly every economy?
  • How will environmental concerns play out in consumer and business technology purchases and deployments?
  • How will the changing face of cities change consumer behaviors and demands?
  • Will artificial intelligence (AI) technologies and capabilities completely redefine business?
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Working On A Hosted Private Cloud Wave

Last year, my colleague, James Staten, and I published evaluations of the (internal) private cloud and public cloud markets — this year we’re going to fill in the remaining gap in the IaaS space, by publishing a Forrester Wave evaluation on Hosted Private Cloud Solutions. Vendors participating in this report will be evaluated on key criteria, a demo following a mandatory script, and customer references for validation of the solution. Throughout the research process I’ll be providing some updates and interesting findings before it goes live in early Q4 2012.

So, what is hosted private cloud? Like almost every product in the cloud space, there’s a lot of ambiguity about what you’ll be getting if you sign on to use a hosted private cloud solution. Today, NIST defines private cloud as:

The cloud infrastructure is provisioned for exclusive use by a single organization comprising multiple consumers (e.g., business units). It may be owned, managed, and operated by the organization, a third party, or some combination of them, and it may exist on or off premises.

Hosted private cloud refers to a variation of this where the solution lives off-premises in a hosted environment while still incorporating NIST's IaaS service definition, particularly where “[t]he consumer does not manage or control the underlying cloud infrastructure but has control over operating systems, storage, and deployed applications.” But there’s a great deal of variation in today’s hosted private cloud arena. Usually solutions differ in the following ways:

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B2B Meets Cloud Based Integration (CBI)

B2B communication, with its original form of EDI messages, is the oldest and unfortunately the least flexible form of integration between systems and different enterprises. Many enterprises run B2B gateways on-premises or have managed service contracts for “their instance of their B2B Hub.”

I’ve received over the past months an increasing number of inquiries from Forrester clients asking for the future of this approach and the market trend. This is what I usually explain:

Your future cloud/legacy integration should cover your business partner and your SaaS applications. Cloud computing is disrupting the integration space! Why? Traditionally, you had two very distinguished integration scenarios. Either, it was about the integration between multiple systems within your enterprise — middleware software, with product categories like EAI, ESB, CIS, and BPM, was the matching solution, as all systems have been on premises in the past. Or, it was about the integration with your business partners — the well-established B2B/EDI gateways and managed services were the matching solution over the Internet (or VANs). However, cloud computing disrupted the space already: Suddenly parts of your business unit’s applications are in the cloud on packaged SaaS applications, and they needed to be integrated with your on-premises legacy. Or, you and your business partners even use the same SaaS applications, and B2B traffic is as simple as moving data from one tenant to the other tenant on the same cloud platform. To face this trend of an increasing variety of integration, a good cloud integration strategy should look at synergies between the cloud/legacy integration scenarios with your business partners and the SaaS tenants of your own enterprise holistically!

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Tech Distributors Versus Telcos: Competing When They Should Be Collaborating

While working on my recently published report, The Cloud-Driven Evolution Of Asian Tech Distributors, the tech vendors and distributors I interviewed drew parallels between telcos and tech distributors, both of which sell cloud-based solutions. However, during further discussion, the friction and competitiveness between the two quickly became apparent. So why should they compete when they can exploit each other’s resources and pursue joint go-to-market initiatives? By partnering, each can focus on doing what it does best to meet customer needs.

Telcos’ reach, ready infrastructure and existing customer bases provide a solid cloud foundation:

  • Back-end infrastructure. Telcos’ robust network and data center infrastructure is critical to setting up and delivering cloud-based services swiftly and without massive additional investment. Moreover, their businesses are well-suited to annuity models.
  • An existing base of enterprise customers. Although telcos aren’t considered a strategic enterprise provider in most instances, their access to a large base of qualified enterprise accounts and existing relationships potentially provides a very good foundation for cloud solution sales.
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Dell Is On A Quest For Software

 

One of the many hilarious scenes in Monty Python and the Holy Grail is the "Bridge of Death" sequence. This week's news that Dell plans to acquire Quest Software makes one think of a slight twist to this scene:

Bridgekeeper:   "What ... is your name?"
Traveler:           "John Swainson of Dell."
Bridgekeeper:   "What ... is your quest?"
Traveler:           "Hey! That's not a bad idea!"

We suspect Dell's process was more methodical than that!

This acquisition was not a surprise, of course. All along, it has been obvious that Dell needed stronger assets in software as it continues on its quest to avoid the Gorge of Eternal Peril that is spanned by the Bridge of Death. When the company announced that John Swainson was joining to lead the newly formed software group, astute industry watchers knew the next steps would include an ambitious acquisition. We predicted such an acquisition would be one of Swainson's first moves, and after only four months on the job, indeed it was.

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