Free Isn't The Half Of It. AWS Pushes Cloud Economics Further

James Staten

This week Amazon Web Services announced a new pricing tier for its Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) service and in doing so has differentiated its offering even further. At first blush the free tier sounds like a free trial, which isn't anything new in cloud computing. True, the free tier is time-limited, but you get 12 months, and capacity limited, along multiple dimensions. But it's also a new pricing band. And for three of its services, SimpleDB, Simple Queueing Service (SQS), and Simple Notification Service (SNS) the free tier is indefinite. Look for Amazon to lift the 12 month limit on this service next October, because the free tier will drive revenues for AWS long term. Here's why:

A few weeks back I posted a story about how one of our clients has been turning cloud economics to their advantage by flipping the concept of capacity planning on its head. Their strategy was to concentrate not on how much capacity they would need when their application got hot, but on how they could reduce its capacity footprint when it wasn't. As small as they could get it, they couldn't shrink it to the point where they incurred no cost at all; they were left with at least a storage and a caching bill. Now with the free tier, they can achieve a no-cost footprint. 

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Vote For Forrester's IT Forum 2011 Theme

Sharyn Leaver

Are you ready for Forrester's IT Forum 2011? Mark your calendars for May 25-27 in Las Vegas and June 8-10 in Barcelona — and help us design an event that is as relevant and productive for you as possible. We've come up with three potential draft themes and need your vote for the best IT Forum 2011 theme:

1. Unleash your empowered enterprise.

As technology becomes more accessible through mediums beyond IT's control, you have but one choice: Get proactive by empowering employees, or swim against the current. Successful BT leaders will react not by blocking access but by lending their expertise to increase the chances of technology success and empowering the users to solve customer and business problems. This year's IT Forum will provide a blueprint for reaping the benefits of your empowered organization — complete with case studies, methodologies, and step-by-step advice tailored to each IT role.

2. Capitalize on the intersection of business and technology.

IT leaders have long struggled to deliver business and technology alignment. But alignment implies a waterfall process: decide on a business strategy, and then build your technology on that foundation. Today, our businesses move too fast for the traditional IT model. Instead, Business Technology leaders must join the leaders of their lines of business to create business and technology strategy simultaneously. That means working with new business partners inside and outside your organization, operationalizing innovation through standards, and above all, saying, "yes, and..." instead of "yes, but..." This year, we'll dedicate IT Forum to building bridges to new business partners, scaling innovative solutions, and co-creating business and technology strategy.

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Software AG buys Data Foundations: Business Acumen Meets Data Competency

Clay Richardson

Co-authored with Forrester's Rob Karel.

On September 18, 2010, Software AG (SAG) — best known for its business process management, B2B, and SOA-based integration solutions — announced its acquisition of Data Foundations, a master data management (MDM) vendor based in Hackensack, New Jersey. Data Foundations is smaller and less well known than the more mature and comprehensive MDM solutions from Initiate Systems and Siperian, both of which were acquired earlier this year by IBM and Informatica, respectively. Once Initiate and Siperian were taken off the market, no tier one MDM vendors remained for potential suitors to consider — especially those that could support both analytical and operational use cases. Having missed out on the opportunity to snag one of those leaders, we believe Software AG made the right technology choice in selecting Data Foundations. 

Who is Data Foundations?

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The Vasa Effect

Jost Hoppermann

A few days ago, I “rediscovered” a brochure from a museum in Stockholm. It reminded me of an early 17th century warship: The Vasa. She was the most powerful warship of her time — albeit for less than half an hour, as she sank during her maiden voyage. The reasons for this disaster include top management interference, overly sophisticated requirements, weak communication, and overengineering. Why is this relevant today? Because projects have not changed that much: The Vasa story reminds me of a number of interactions I had with Forrester clients about banking platform transformation projects that ran well — or not so well.

A large share of the less-successful projects showed a number of the ingredients of the Vasa story, causing what I like to call the Vasa effect: predictable failure. Examples include:

  • Off-the-shelf projects that had to manage a burden of business requirements that were so sophisticated that no off-the-shelf system could ever hope to cope with all of them in a cost-effective way. In parallel with the Vasa story, in these cases nobody dared discuss whether the last 15% or even 5% of the requirements were really important enough to justify the additional cost — or whether delivering 85% of the requirements would be good enough.
  • So-called off-the-shelf solutions that were more custom-built than a real custom-built solution. They had to align with a bank’s off-the-shelf strategy while living up to concretely defined, highly sophisticated, and very individual business requirements, including solitaire business process definitions.
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Some Specifics On Those Top 15 Tech Trends

Gene Leganza

I've taken some heat in comments at the ZDNET version of my post about the top 15 tech trends research piece. Apparently, to non-Forrester clients who don't have access to the research on the website (except for a rather steep by-the-drink price), the blog post comes off as a teaser with no payoff. Mea culpa. Here's the deal: My process, like that of many analysts these days, is to do research, publish it on our website, and then yak about it via social media. While I'm very careful in Twitter to point out when links will take you to something that's free versus something that's for Forrester clients, I wrote the blog post that found its way to ZDNET's site mostly with Forrester clients in mind. It mostly says "Hey, check out this research doc. Here's what I was thinking when I set out to publish it."

What happens next is that the various analysts who contributed to the trends doc will post blog entries about their areas of expertise, specifically about the topics we talked about in the trends doc. So, in a few weeks, there will be lots of info for non-Forrester clients to read to dig into what we're talking about in this trends piece.

But for now, the social media campaign is looking too much like we're withholding the bottom line just to squeeze some bucks out of the public. Not so. In the interest of addressing that issue, here is a table of the tech trends in that piece, sorted by highest impact (over the next 3 years).

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IBM Makes A Good Catch With Clarity Systems Acquisition

Paul Hamerman

Today, IBM announced the acquisition of privately-held Clarity Systems for an undisclosed sum. The acquisition bolsters IBM’s solution set for the CFO, and complements its recent acquisition of OpenPages, a governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) vendor. Clarity, based in Toronto, had approximately 390 employees and 600 customers at the time of this deal.

Clarity Systems is a Strong Performer in "The Forrester Wave™: Business Performance Solutions, Q4 2009", offering a very good planning, budgeting, and forecasting solution as part of its flagship product, Clarity 7, along with an improved financial consolidations component. During the past few years, Clarity developed a market-leading regulatory reporting solution, Clarity FSR, which supports the process of creating full SEC filings and also embeds technology for XBRL reporting. IBM Cognos is ranked as a Leader in the same comparative evalution.

The success of FSR alone during the past two years made the large BPS vendors, IBM, SAP, and Oracle, envious of Clarity’s success. Oracle made a competitive response early this year with the release of Oracle Hyperion Disclosure Management. It seemed to this observer that SAP would make the next move by doing a deal to acquire Clarity, but IBM beat them to the punch.

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Results Of Forrester Wave™: Enterprise Business Intelligence Platforms, Q4 2010

Boris Evelson

As I was doing research for our Forrester Wave™: Enterprise Business Intelligence Platforms, Q4 2010, I couldn’t help but remember a dear old friend of mine, who was/is one of the nicest and smartest people, but often a bit naïve and too idealistic. At one point when we were watching the Olympic Games on TV, she shed a tear and asked, “Why can’t they all win?” Unlike the Olympic Games, though, it’s good news all around for all of the vendors covered in our latest evaluation. Here’s it is in a nutshell.

In Forrester's 145-criteria evaluation of enterprise business intelligence (BI) platform vendors, we found that IBM Cognos, SAP BusinessObjects, Oracle, Information Builders, SAS, Microsoft, and MicroStrategy led the pack because of completeness of not just BI, but overall information management functionality. Actuate came out as a Strong Performer on the heels of the Leaders offering equal — or in some cases superior — BI functionality, but it mostly relies on partners for the rest of its information management capabilities. TIBCO Spotfire also came out as a Strong Performer offering top choices for analytics, even surpassing other Strong Performers in the overall information management arena based on its traditional strength in middleware and application integration. Last but not least, QlikTech and Panorama Software moved up from Contenders and into the Strong Performers category based on the continuous improvements in their analytical capabilities.

Our evaluation uncovered a market in which:

  • IBM Cognos, SAP BusinessObjects, Oracle, and SAS continue to lead the pack.
  • Information Builders, Microsoft, and MicroStrategy move into the Leaders category.
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Join Forrester’s Smart Cities Tweet Jam, November 9th at 11am EDT/8am PDT/5pm CET

Jennifer Belissent, Ph.D.

What’s your approach to the smart city? What's your role? Join Forrester Analysts, IT decision-makers, vendor strategists, and other Tweeters in our upcoming Smart Cities Tweet Jam – a Twitter-based dialogue about smart cities – on Tuesday, November 9th from 11:00am to 12:00pm EDT (8:00am to 9:00am PDT and 5:00 to 6:00pm CET), using the Twitter hashtag #smartcityjam. From Forrester, Doug Washburn (@dougwashburn), Usman Sindhu (@usmansindhu) and I (@jenbelissent) will be joining – and likely others. Doug and Usman have written about what “Smart Cities” mean for CIOs of all kinds – the CIO of the city, the CIO of a component city service or infrastructure, and the CIO who consumes or interfaces with smart city infrastructure. Take a look at their report, Helping CIOs Understand "Smart City" Initiatives. My upcoming report, "Capitalizing on Smart Cities," will look at opportunities for tech vendors, including a look at alternatives types of “cities” and innovative business models to increase the long-term viability of smart city initiatives. The report is not yet out, but some of the ideas have been shared in recent blog posts on the definition of a “city,” new business models, and

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Redefining The “Public” Sector?

Jennifer Belissent, Ph.D.

Or maybe I should title this “When Public Sector Isn’t ‘Public’ At All.” In recent blog posts, I’ve written about how “cities” are not just those formed around a city hall, headed by a mayor or city council, and run by civil servants. Universities, company towns, and even amusement parks are launching innovative technology-based initiatives to address issues around transportation, public safety, administration, and even healthcare and education. However, it seems that many of the new cities being created as “smart cities” are even themselves not really cities as we know them (that’s a lot of “cities” in one sentence). Are they perhaps redefining the public sector altogether? 

Humor me as I ruminate on the definition of public sector. I usually think of the public sector as that which is government-owned, run by civil servants, and ultimately headed by an elected, appointed (or possibly a self-appointed) leader acting in the interests of the public or his/her constituency. Traditionally, at the core of a city is a public sector with many of these characteristics, with a mandate to provide basic infrastructure and services for the “public,” known in economic parlance as “public goods.” But, what if the city government itself is a private entity? 

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Taking Lessons From Smart Cities

Jennifer Belissent, Ph.D.

On Sunday I will be participating in IBM’s Middle East and North Africa CIO Conference 2010, where I will present my research on Smart Cities. I’m looking forward to speaking with practitioners from the region to hear about their experiences in making their cities, organizations, and businesses more efficient through innovative technology-based initiatives. My presentation is entitled “Taking Lessons from Smart Cities,” because the real smarts lie in how these “cities” – whatever form they take – have overcome obstacles from budget battles to stakeholder standoffs. 

One aspect of those smarts lies in the business models that have enabled smart cities. With talk of municipal bankruptcy and public sector debt, it is not surprising that public sector IT decision-makers are not all that optimistic about their industry outlook. In Forrester’s Forrsights Budgets And Priorities Tracker Survey, Q2 2010, only 26% of public sector IT decision-makers considered their industry outlook to be good, while 70% – the vast majority – expected a bad year. The public sector came in next to last among other industry verticals.

That same survey, however, also revealed expectations of IT spending increases in the public sector: 37% of public sector IT decision-makers expected IT budgets to grow by at least 5%; 11% expected increases of more than 10%. Some of that spending is creatively financed. 

Several new business models have emerged to enable technology investment.

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