HP Shows its Next Generation Blade and Converged Infrastructure – No Revolution, but Strong Evolution

With the next major spin of Intel server CPUs due later this year, HP’s customers have been waiting for HP’s next iteration of its core c-Class BladeSystem, which has been on the market for almost 7 years without any major changes to its basic architecture. IBM made a major enhancement to its BladeCenter architecture, replacing it with the new Pure Systems, and Cisco’s offering is new enough that it should last for at least another three years without a major architectural refresh, leaving HP customers to wonder when HP was going to introduce its next blade enclosure, and whether it would be compatible with current products.

At their partner conference this week, HP announced a range of enhancements to its blade product line that on combination represent a strong evolution of the current product while maintaining compatibility with current investments. This positioning is similar to what IBM did with its BladeCenter to BladeCenter-H upgrade, preserving current customer investment and extending the life of the current server and peripheral modules for several more years.

Tech Stuff – What Was Announced

Among the goodies announced on February 19 was an assortment of performance and functionality enhancements, including:

  • Platinum enclosure — The centerpiece of the announcement was the new c7000 Platinum enclosure, which boosts the speed of the midplane signal paths from 10 GHz to 14GHz, for an increase of 40% in raw bandwidth of the critical midplane, across which all of the enclosure I/O travels. In addition to the increased bandwidth midplane, the new enclosure incorporates location aware sensors and also doubles the available storage bandwidth.
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Open Data Is Not Just For Governments Anymore...

. . . Nor has it ever really been. Government data has long been a part of strategic business analysis. Census data provides insights into local standards of living and household budgets, health needs, education levels, and other factors that influence buying patterns for all kinds of goods and services. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics and the International Labour Organization provide data on employment and the availability of skilled labor that helps inform decisions on where to locate manufacturing or other facilities. The World Bank and UN data provides insights into global trends. 

Moreover, the release of government data has itself spurred billion-dollar industries. Think weather data released in the 1970s by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – which gave birth to the weather industry and services like Accuweather, weather.com, wunderground, and newer services like ikitesurf.com’s “wind and where.” Data from the US Global Positioning System (GPS) was opened to civilian and commercial use in the 1980s and has given rise to thousands of location-based services. Think FourSquare, Yelp, and Where’s The Bus?

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SharePoint Enters Its Awkward Teenage Years

Rob Koplowitz and I collaborated on this research. Forrester clients can access the full report here. The research uses data from Forrester’s August 2012 Global SharePoint Usage Online Survey to analyze the current and likely future state of SharePoint adoption in enterprises. Selected results from the survey are available here.

Microsoft SharePoint is the centerpiece of many enterprises’ collaboration and content strategies, but it isn’t clear to us that enterprises will continue to invest in SharePoint to provide a broad range of social, web content, and content delivery functions.

Our latest Global SharePoint Usage Online Survey (2012) suggests that customers struggle to adopt SharePoint’s full range of features, hurting the product’s long-term business value.  Many business managers (as opposed to IT managers) aren’t satisfied that SharePoint delivers good business value to their companies, citing uninspired user experiences, technical complexity, and other factors.

IT management is more satisfied with SharePoint than business management, and this satisfaction is driving aggressive adoption of new SharePoint releases. Plans to adopt the latest release (SharePoint 2013) are very strong.

In addition to challenging satisfaction levels with SharePoint among business managers, SharePoint faces three other barriers to its continued domination of enterprise collaboration and Intranet platforms:

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TechnoPolitics Podcast: Digital Disruptors Will Sink Your Company If You Don't Become One Yourself

Digital disruptors will sink your company...

...if you don’t become one yourself. So says James McQuivey, author of Forrester’s new book Digital Disruption: Unleashing the Next Wave of Innovation (available everywhere February 26, 2013). You always knew digital was going to upend things. In every industry, digital disruptors are taking advantage of new platforms, tools, and innovation to undercut competitors, ingratiate customers, and disrupt the usual ways of doing business. There have always been winners and losers when disruption hits, but digital disruption hits harder and runs deeper than anyone would have guessed.

Digital Disruption is a book about how to innovate with a digital twist — a must-read for anyone who wants to be a digital winner. 

In this episode, TechnoPolitics sits down with Digital Disruption author James McQuivey to:

  • Learn what digital disruption is and how it affects every industry (even cement companies).
  • Understand the mindset of digital disruptors.
  • Find out how your firm can fend off digital disruptors by becoming one itself.
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Facebook's Security Breach: Reputation On The Line Now More Than Ever

Facebook made headlines last Friday with its announcement that it had been the victim of a sophisticated security attack. All major news publications picked up the story, citing widespread concern about the implications of the breach.

The breach itself, however, was largely a nonevent from a security standpoint.

Facebook identified the security breach before it infiltrated too deeply into company systems, remediated all compromised machines, informed law enforcement, and reported the Java exploit to its parent owner Oracle – acting quickly and appropriately. Most importantly, Facebook made it clear that the breach did not expose any of its users’ data.

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Skype + Lync and Microsoft Skype President Tony Bates' Coming Out Party

Sadly, I'm not in San Diego this week to hear Tony Bates' keynote coming out speech in person. (Well, happily, actually, as I'm skiing with family in Vermont -- great snow today!)

But I do have context on this announcement as I've been analyzing both the consumerization brand, Skype, and the enterprise brand, Lync, for years now. When Microsoft did the Skype deal going on two years ago, I posted on Microsoft's opportunity to bring Skype values to Lync customers and deployments as it has acquired a consumerization brand, a cloud service to sell, and a chance to do B2B communications properly.

At a glance from afar, it looks as if almost two years later, Microsoft under Microsoft Skype president, Bates, has kept its eye on this prize. What I see from Vermont is that Microsoft is in fact:

  • Re-humanizing business communications, a good and much-needed thing. (Okay, I like the phrase re-humanizing. It must stem from having played rock n' roll fulltime in the Police-laden "rehumanize yourself"'80s.) If people can't easily use the tools, then they won't bother. This is the essense of consumerization: people using readily available and affordable technology on their own to get work done. Microsoft appears to be understanding and focusing on the consumerization values of Skype. We'll wait to see the Lync-meets-Skype experience, but it sounds good on paper, anyway.
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Are You Really Ready To Test Agile?

Early this year, on January 15, I published our first research on testing for the Agile and Lean playbook. Connected to that research, my colleague Margo Visitacion and I also published a self-assessment testing toolkit. The toolkit helps app-dev and testing leaders understand how mature their current testing practices and organization are for Agile and Lean development.

The Agile Testing Self-Assessment Toolkit

So what are the necessary elements to assess Agile testing maturity?  Looking to compromise between simplicity and comprehensiveness, we focused on the following:

  • Testing team behavior. Some of the questions we ask here look at collaboration around testing among all roles in the Scrum teams. We also ask about unit testing: Is it a mandatory task for developers? Are all of the repeititive tests that can be run over and over at each regression testing automated?
  • Organization. In our earlier Agile testing research, we noticed a change in the way testing gets organized when Agile is being adopted. So here we look at the role test managers are playing: Are they focusing more on being coaches and change agents to accelerate adoption of the new Agile testing practices? Or are managers still operating in a command-and-control regime? Is the number of manual testers decreasing? Are testing centers of excellence (TCOEs) shifting to become testing practice centers of excellence (TPCOEs)?
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Nasscom 2013: Real Changes To Indian IT Services Are Underway

I am just back from the whirlwind that is Nasscom India Leadership Forum 2013 in Mumbai, India. The Nasscom event is the premier event for the Indian IT services marketplace. Besides meeting great people, eating too much wonderful Indian food, and seeing action star and local legend Amitabh Bachchan in-person, the event provides a chance to check the pulse of the most important geographic hub for the IT services marketplace. 

Here are some of my key findings from the trip:

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From An Enterprise Perspective, Mobile World Congress 2013 Will Focus More On Solutions

As an analyst who focuses on the future of communications and the implications for business, I will travel to Mobile World Congress (MWC) with several expectations:

  • There will be a greater focus on business solutions, not just hardware and software exhibits. OK, in many respects, this is probably more of a hope of mine than an expectation. MWC visitors will still encounter hall after hall of software and hardware. Still, I expect many exhibitors, including device players like Samsung, to show a growing awareness by focusing more on actual end user business needs, including a vertical perspective.
  • Consumerization as a focus area is just heating up. The information workforce is fragmenting. Information workers will increasingly expect to work in a flexible framework. Forrester’s research highlights significant differences in communication and collaboration behavior between age groups. Social media — the communication channel of choice for those now entering the workforce — brings big challenges for businesses in the areas of procurement, compliance, human resources, and IT. However, I expect these themes to be addressed mostly superficially at MWC.
  • The merger of big data, mobility, and cloud computing is recognised as a large business opportunity. Mobility by itself only scratches the surface of the opportunities in areas like customer interaction, go-to-market dynamics, charging, and product development, which are emerging in combination with big data and cloud computing. I expect providers like SAP to touch on several aspects of this trend. The momentum is supported by the trend toward software-defined networking.
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How to Avoid the Hidden Costs of Cloud Computing

We all know the conventional wisdom about cloud computing: it's cheap, fast and easy. But is it really that much cheaper? Or is it simply optics that make it appear cheaper?

Optics can absolutely change your perception of the cost of something. Just think about your morning jolt of coffee. $3.50 for a no-foam, half-caf, sugar-free vanilla latte doesn't seem that expensive. It's a small daily expense when viewed by the drink. It appears even cheaper if you pay for it with a loyalty card where you don't even have to fork over the dough and the vanilla shot is free. But what if you bought coffee like IT buys technology? You would pay for it on an annual basis. That $3.50 latte would now be about $900/year. For coffee? How many of you would go for that deal? That's optics and it plays right into the marketing hands of the public cloud services your business is consuming today.

But optics aside, is that $99/month per user SaaS application just another $20,000 per year enterprise application? Is that $0.25 per hour virtual machine just another $85 per year hosted VM? No, it's not the same. Because the pricing models are not just optics but an indication of the buying pattern that is possible. If you buy it the same way you do traditional IT, then yes, the math says, there's little difference here. The key to cloud economics is to not buy the cloud service the same way you do traditional IT. The key to taking advantage is to not statically and rotely consume the cloud. Instead, consume only what you need when you need it — and be diligent about turning off when you aren't.

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