Thoughts On Strategic Partnerships From Infosys Leaders And Clients

Duncan Jones

I’m in Las Vegas attending Infosys’s Connect 2011 client event, and one of the recurring themes in sessions and side conversations has been the nature of Strategic Partnership. The phrase risks becoming a meaningless cliché, so I was interested to research what it actually means to Infosys execs and clients. I got some interesting, varied perspectives.

A large CPG company’s central IT group described its interpretation in a couple of sessions. It demands, among other things, a strong cultural fit, a commitment to win:win solutions to problems, and regular meetings with partners’ CEOs. This group has 12 “strategic partners” who get a lead role in a specific area, but may not even be considered in other areas, even though they have good solutions in their portfolio. I might argue the semantic point about whether this means they are merely ‘important, at the moment’ rather than ‘strategic’. However, the key point is that the two parties’ commitment to making the partnership work creates a better, stronger commercial framework than any legal agreement could deliver.

Raj Joshi, MD of Infosys Consulting, described his group’s Value Realization Method (VRM) that formally tracks each project’s expected business benefits from the initial project business case through design and implementation and onto ongoing value delivery. Joshi stressed the importance of shared incentives, such as risk/ reward sharing commercial models, in ensuring projects’ success.

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Hyper-V Matures As An Enterprise Platform

Richard Fichera

A project I’m working on for an approximately half-billion dollar company in the health care industry has forced me to revisit Hyper-V versus VMware after a long period of inattention on my part, and it has become apparent that Hyper-V has made significant progress as a viable platform for at least medium enterprises. My key takeaways include:

  • Hyper-V has come a long way and is now a viable competitor in Microsoft environments up through mid-size enterprise as long as their DR/HA requirements are not too stringent and as long as they are willing to use Microsoft’s Systems Center, Server Management Suite and Performance Resource Optimization as well as other vendor specific pieces of software as part of their management environment.
  • Hyper-V still has limitations in VM memory size, total physical system memory size and number of cores per VM compared to VMware, and VMware boasts more flexible memory management and I/O options, but these differences are less significant that they were two years ago.
  • For large enterprises and for complete integrated management, particularly storage, HA, DR and automated workload migration, and for what appears to be close to 100% coverage of workload sizes, VMware is still king of the barnyard. VMware also boasts an incredibly rich partner ecosystem.
  • For cloud, Microsoft has a plausible story but it is completely wrapped around Azure.
  • While I have not had the time (or the inclination, if I was being totally honest) to develop a very granular comparison, VMware’s recent changes to its legacy licensing structure (and subsequent changes to the new pricing structure) does look like license cost remains an attraction for Microsoft Hyper-V, especially if the enterprise is using Windows Server Enterprise Edition. 
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Catching Up With SUSE -- The Attachmate Group Clarifies Branding And Role For SUSE

Richard Fichera

I recently had an opportunity to spend some time with SUSE management, including President and General Manager Nils Brauckmann, and came away with what I think is a reasonably clear picture of The Attachmate Group’s (TAG) intentions and of SUSE’s overall condition these days. Overall, impressions were positive, with some key takeaways:

  • TAG has clarified its intentions regarding SUSE. TAG has organized its computer holdings as four independent business units, Novell, NetIQ, Attachmate and SUSE, each one with its own independent sales, development, marketing, etc. resources. The advantages and disadvantages of this approach are pretty straightforward, with the lack of opportunity to share resources aiming the business units for R&D and marketing/sales being balanced off by crystal clear accountability and the attendant focus it brings. SUSE management agrees that it has undercommunicated in the past, and says that now that the corporate structure has been nailed down it will be very aggressive in communicating its new structure and goals.
  • SUSE’s market presence has shifted to a more balanced posture. Over the last several years SUSE has shifted to a somewhat less European-centric focus, with 50% of revenues coming from North America, less than 50% from EMEA, and claims to be the No. 1 Linux vendor in China, where it has expanded its development staffing. SUSE claims to have gained market share overall, laying claim to approximately 30% of WW Linux market share by revenue.
  • Focus on enterprise and cloud. Given its modest revenues of under $200 million, SUSE realizes that it cannot be all things to all people, and states that it will be focusing heavily on enterprise business servers and cloud technology, with less emphasis on desktops and projects that do not have strong financial returns, such as its investment in Mono, which it has partnered with Xamarin to continue development,.
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S&P Downgrade Of US Debt And Related Financial Market Distress Mean Slower Growth In US And Global Tech Markets

Andrew Bartels

The financial news from the US and Europe – the messy resolution of the US debt ceiling impasse and the related downgrade of US government securities, the sharply higher prices for Spanish and Italian debt after inadequate response to the latest Greek debt crisis, and the big drops in stock markets on Monday – will certainly weaken the economic growth prospects of both the US and Europe. We anticipated much of this two weeks ago, both before the US debt ceiling was raised at the 11th hour along with a makeshift deficit reduction plan (see my blog on July 28, 2011) and after the news of much lower US economic came out on Friday (see my blog on July 29, 2011). In fact, the resolution to the debt ceiling issue was slightly better than we expected (no default, and in interim deficit reduction that cut only $21 billion in fiscal year 2012 starting in October 2011) while the US economic outlook in Q2 2011 and earlier was quite a bit worse. The big surprise was S&P's downgrade of US securities from AAA to AA+. While that downgrade was not copied by the other rating agencies and in fact had no impact today on the prices of US treasury securities, it had a big psychological impact. Along with the bad news coming out of Europe after interest rates on Spanish and Italian debt spiked, the S&P downgrade triggered the 600 point or so drop in the Dow Jones Industrial index today, following a 500-point fall on Friday. The result of all these events at best will mean very weak growth in both the US and Europe in the rest of 2011 and well into 2012; at worse, it increases the risk of a renewed recession.

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Venices (And Singapores) Of The World: Imitation And Innovation

Jennifer Belissent, Ph.D.

We often hear of city comparisons.  In my many years in Russia, I must have heard that St. Petersburg was the Venice of the North hundreds of times.  Another is Paris.  How many times have you heard “[Insert city] is the Paris of the [insert region]”?  Actually, a quick search reveals that there are at least 11 cities that are “the Paris of the East.”  Some are quite surprising:

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GPU Case Study Highlights Financial Application Acceleration

Richard Fichera

NVIDIA recently shared a case study involving risk calculations at a JP Morgan Chase that I think is significant for the extreme levels of acceleration gained by integrating GPUs with conventional CPUs, and also as an illustration of a mainstream financial application of GPU technology.

JP Morgan Chase’s Equity Derivatives Group began evaluating GPUs as computational accelerators in 2009, and now runs over half of their risk calculations on hybrid systems containing x86 CPUs and NVIDIA Tesla GPUs, and claims a 40x improvement in calculation times combined with a 75% cost savings. The cost savings appear to be derived from a combination of lower capital costs to deliver an equivalent throughput of calculations along with improved energy efficiency per calculation.

Implicit in the speedup of 40x, from multiple hours to several minutes, is the implication that these calculations can become part of a near real-time business-critical analysis process instead of an overnight or daily batch process. Given the intensely competitive nature of derivatives trading, it is highly likely that JPMC will enhance their use of GPUs as traders demand an ever increasing number of these calculations. And of course, their competition has been using the same technology as well, based on numerous conversations I have had with Wall Street infrastructure architects over the past year.

My net take on this is that we will see a succession of similar announcements as GPUs become a fully mainstream acceleration technology as opposed to an experimental fringe. If you are an I&O professional whose users are demanding extreme computational performance on a constrained space, power and capital budget, you owe it to yourself and your company to evaluate the newest accelerator technology. Your competitors are almost certainly doing so.

The Business Architect Cometh

John R. Rymer

[Forrester Principal Analyst Alexander Peters, PhD. and I collaborated on this research.]

You may have heard the term "business architect" in your travels; if you haven't, you soon will. A significant number of our clients are searching for these new leaders. Broadly, BAs are responsible for developing and managing an organization's business model and business technology (BT) agenda. The business architect fills the gap between business management and IT management. One way to bridge the gap is to make it someone's responsibility to do so.

In our research, we spoke to individuals occupying this crucial role in a large European agency, a large financial services firm, a regional healthcare provider, a diversified energy provider, and a logistics firm. The need for BAs is most acute in organizations that are in the midst of transforming their businesses and information systems.

The need for business architects is manifest, but what's less apparent to these firms is how this role should be structured, who should occupy it, and what a BA's responsibilities should be (as illustrated by wide variations in job ads for the position). In our research, we found two established models for the BA role:

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Why Do We Let Software Sales Reps Behave Like Tourist Souvenir Hawkers?

Duncan Jones

I’ve just had a negotiation lesson from Number-one-Daughter, who has been studying in China for a year. I’ve just returned from beautiful, vibrant Beijing  (北京) where my wife and I met her, to see the city and to help her get her luggage home (which explains the 6 pairs of ladies’ shoes in my suitcase and makeup in my carry-on — at least, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it).

Chinese souvenir stall

Author and wife on the Great Wall of China

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US Q2 2011 GDP Report Is Bad News For The US Tech Sector, But With Some Silver Linings

Andrew Bartels

The US Department of Commerce released preliminary Q2 2011 GDP data this morning (National Income and Product Accounts -- Gross Domestic Product: Second Quarter 2011 (Advance Estimate); Revised Estimates: 2003 through First Quarter 2011), and there was not much good news in the numbers.  First, US real GDP growth came in at a weaker than expected 1.3% (see Table 1).  Equally bad, prior quarters' growth was revised downward -- Q1 2011 down to 0.4% from 1.9% earlier, and Q4 2010 down to 2.3% from 3.1% earlier.  Given the negative impact of the deadlock on raising the US Federal debt ceiling -- even if a default is avoided at the last minute -- it is hard to see US real GDP growing faster than 2% in Q3 and Q4 2011, and very possibly not much more than 1.5%.

Table 1, US Real GDP Growth Rates, Before and After July 29, 2011 revisions

 

Real GDP, annualized growth rate from prior quarter

Q1 2009

Q2 2009

Q3 2009

Q4 2009

Q1 2010

Q2 2010

Q3 2010

Q4 2010

Q1 2011

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BI Vendors Have To Eat Their Own Dog Food

Boris Evelson

Would you trust a car salesman who’s not driving the type of car he’s trying to sell you? Would you trust a nutritionist or a dietitian who’s not in a good shape? Probably not. There are two things that I suggest we all ask of BI vendors. Ask if they:

  • Use their own BI tools to run their company. Next time you interview a BI vendor, ask for a proof that their own CxOs and all other strategic and tactical decision-makers are using their own tools. I know of some cases where they don’t. How can a vendor convince you to buy its solutions if it hasn’t convinced its own people?
  • Adhere to the same best practices they suggest you implement using their tools/solutions. Transparency is one of them. One of the top use cases for enterprise BI is transparency: full visibility into companies processes, people, policies, rules, and transactions.
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