As an immediate reaction to the recent announcement of Attachmate’s intention to acquire Novell, covered in depth by my colleagues and synthesized by Chris Voce in his recent blog post, I have received a string of inquiries about the probable fate of SUSE LINUX. Should we continue to invest? Will Attachmate kill it? Will it be sold?
Reduced to its essentials the answer is that we cannot predict the eventual ownership of SUSE Linux, but it is almost certain to remain a viable and widely available Linux distribution. SUSE is one of the crown jewels of Novell’s portfolio, with steady growth, gaining market share, generating increasing revenues, and from the outside at least, a profitable business.
Attachmate has two choices with SUSE – retain it as a profitable growth engine and attachment point for other Attachmate software and services, or package it up for sale. In either case they have to continue to invest in the product and its marketing. If Attachmate chooses to keep it, SUSE Linux will behave as it did with Novell. If they sell it, its acquirer will be foolish to do anything else. Speculation about potential acquirers has included HP, IBM, Cisco and Oracle, all of whom could make use of a Linux distribution as an internal product component in addition to the software and service revenues it could engender. But aside from an internal platform, for SUSE to have value as an industry alternative to Red Hat, it would have to remain vendor agnostic and widely available.
With the inescapable caveat that this is a developing situation, my current take on SUSE Linux is that there is no reason to back away from it or to fear that it will disappear into the maw of some giant IT company.
Over the past two years, the economy has forced IT departments to downsize, sometimes cutting their budgets to the bone. Priorities and processes had to be reevaluated, and one of the main tenets of ITSM — do more with less — became an imperative with teeth. With the economy motivating this drive to do more with less, it may have come as an unwanted change. But it’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, the folks on the “O” side of Forrester’s I&O team have long been focused on how you can reduce your IT costs through automation and industrialization — essentially, how to do more with less.
But now IT budgets are springing back, which may tempt some to stray from the path of IT service management. We urge you to resist this temptation. Our research shows that in 2010, most of the I&O budget is being spent on new infrastructure, not personnel. This means you're still having to do more with less, and to do this you need to focus on process. In fact, we want you to focus on process and industrializing your operations so much, we’ve built our holiday wish list around it.
The Ten Things We Want For The Holidays (and The Ten Things You Need To Improve Your IT Service Management )
True active executive commitment
To achieve real results, you need to have CIO-level support.
Behavior change – discipline of IT service management
To launch a successful program, you need to educate and enforce.
SAP customers shouldn't worry about the financial hit. SAP can pay the damages without having to rein back R&D. The pain may also stimulate it to greater competition with Oracle, both commercially and technologically, which will be beneficial for IT buyers.
Was the award fair? Well, IANAL, so I can't answer that. But my question is, if the basis of the award was "if you take something from someone and you use it, you have to pay", as the juror said, does that mean SAP gets to keep the licenses for which the court is forcing it to pay?
The $1.3 billion verdict in the Oracle v. SAP case is surprising, given that the third-party support subsidiary of SAP, TomorrowNow, was fixing glitches and making compliance updates, not trying to resell the software. The jury felt that the appropriate damage award was based on the fair market value of the software that was illegally downloaded, rather than Oracle’s lost revenues for support.
A news article by Bloomberg provides further insight into the jury’s thinking and the legal process. Quoting juror Joe Bangay, an auto body technician: “If you take something from someone and you use it, you have to pay.” Perhaps SAP should have made its case more in layman’s terms.
SAP is in a very difficult position, in that it faces the same threat of revenue loss from third-party support. It was unable to convincingly defend its entry into the third-party support business for fear of legitimizing a business that poses a similar threat to its lucrative maintenance business as to Oracle’s.
What happens to the third-party support business going forward? The size of the award potentially dampens customer interest in moving to third-party support, particularly with another case pending of Oracle v. Rimini Street. The SAP case, however, does not invalidate third-party support as a business. Third-party support, if carried out properly, offers an important option for enterprise application customers that are looking for relief from costly vendor maintenance contracts.
For SAP, the verdict is not only painful, but it prolongs the agony, because it is compelled to appeal the verdict. SAP certainly has the financial wherewithal to pay the damages but was hoping to put this embarrassing debacle behind them.
Customers already use social technologies to wrest power away from large corporations. Now employees are adapting social technologies in pursuit of innovations to support these empowered customers; Forrester calls these employees HEROes (highly empowered and resourceful operatives). By designing social technologies as part of their Innovation Networks, CIOs and their IT teams help establish new Social Innovation Networks — innovation ecosystems employing social technologies to enhance HEROes' innovations. These Social Innovation Networks help drive faster, more effective innovation across the enterprise. And CIOs must rise to the challenge of nurturing and developing these networks while structuring their IT teams to fully support them.
Before Java was invented, one of the key industry trends was to increase the productivity of both developers and end users. For example, fourth-generation programming languages (4GL) such as Powerbuilder, Progress, and Uniface provided professional developers with faster ways to develop business applications than using COBOL, Pascal, C, or C++. For end users, tools such as Dbase, Lotus Notes, and Visicalc provided them with the unprecedented ability to create mini-apps without the need for professional developers. In the early '90s, this productivity trend was thrown into a tizzy by the Internet. Now, software vendors and enterprise application developers had to rush to write a whole new generation of applications for the Web or risk becoming irrelevant. The Internet forced developer productivity and 4GL’s to take the back seat.
Java Was At The Right Place At The Right Time For Web Applications
Java was designed in 1990 as an easier and more portable option than C++ to develop embedded systems. The invention of the WWW in 1993 started a meteoric change in IT application development. Sun Microsystems moved quickly to take advantage by selling “network” servers like hotcakes and offering Java as the platform for Web development. Most other software vendors were caught off guard and Java became the de facto Internet development standard for enterprise Web application development.
Customers today are empowered. They want to decide how they interact with companies that they do business with. That means that not only does a company need to provide the goods and services but also the tools and culture to make customer service a value-add to their customer base.
Here are some basic but key steps to take to move in that direction.
Know Your Customer
When a customer contacts a company, agents should have full access to the customer’s information. They should be able to view past and pending requests made across all available communication channels that you support (like the phone, email, chat, SMS) as well as interactions over social channels like Twitter and Facebook.
If a request has been escalated from a Web self-service session, agents should have access to the full session history so as not to repeat questions or searches that the customers has already performed.
Couple Your CRM System With Others
CRM systems should be more than just the front end of a database of customer information and cases — they should also be integrated with back-office applications. Real-time data integration means that the system can make calls to third-party systems to retrieve a real-time answer to a question such as “When did my order ship?”
Some companies deeply couple knowledge management with CRM. While agents are gathering the details of the customer’s issue, under-the-covers searches are being executed so that an updated list of relevant solutions can be presented to the agent, which helps minimize handle time.
We met with 30 Sourcing & Vendor Management Professionals during an action session at Forrester’s Sourcing & Vendor Management Forum in Chicago to discuss how to improve governance for large implementation projects. Clients were looking for help across the sourcing life cycle – from determining who manages the RFP process, to determining scope with internal stakeholders, to driving governance after the contract is signed.
What tactics are Sourcing & Vendor Management Professionals using to tackle these challenges?
1. Renegotiate rates with current players. Forrester’s recent survey found that 68% of organizations are renegotiating with their existing suppliers. One attendee said, “This has always been a priority, now we are bringing more efficiency and innovation to the process.”
2. Drive innovation from vendors. Everyone wants innovation from their suppliers but few receive it. Attendees shared tips for how they overcome major hurdles to achieving this in their supplier relationships:
a. Define what you mean by innovation. Many struggle to get innovation from their providers because they haven’t defined what that means — are you looking for idea-sharing or process improvements? Determine which type of innovation you need and communicate that to your vendor.
b. Identify metrics. “It’s not just how you measure innovation; it’s how you measure successful innovation.” Clients shared a variety of metrics such as:
i. Requiring the vendor to submit continuous improvement ideas they agree are impactful to your organization
According to press releases here and here, Attachmate is acquiring Novell in a US $2.2 billion transaction. As an infrastructure and operations or security professional with investments in either company, when you see a headline like this, you'll wonder, "What does that mean to me?" Understanding the implications of acquisitions is a task that's getting harder and harder, particularly when the two players each have broad product portfolios with some overlap. I've gathered feedback and worked with my colleagues Eveline Oehrlich, Jean-Pierre Garbani, John Kindervag, Glenn O’Donnell, Jonathan Penn, and Galen Schreck to synthesize and discuss what this means to customers. Here's our take:
First, Novell brings with it about $1 billion in cash, so the net purchase price is roughly $1.2 billion, not $2.2 billion. Combine that with the ~$450 million from CPTN Holdings LLC, a consortium of tech companies organized by Microsoft, and there's far fewer actual dollars in play than it appears. Attachmate states that it intends to keep Novell and SUSE as two separate operating units. Forrester believes that in the long term, SUSE might be attractive to a number of vendors. IBM and HP are likely suitors, but we wouldn't rule out a dark horse like Cisco or Oracle. For more on this, check out Rich Fichera's blog post.
Over the course of this year, I’ve spoken with many organizations that are continuing to expand their usage of information-as-a-service (sometimes called data services) to support new business requirements such as self-service customer portals, real-time BI, and single-version-of-the-truth. With the growing complexity of data, increasing volume of data, and exploding security challenges all driving demand, IaaS is poised to grow significantly in the coming years, especially as existing integration technologies are failing to meet these new requirements. What we see is that most organizations that have embraced an IaaS strategy over the years aren’t looking back; they’re continuing to expand its usage to support more requirements such as real-time data, creating data domains, improving the ability to securely deliver information, integration with unstructured data and external sources, various Web portals, and enterprise search.
Recently, my colleague Gene Leganza, who serves Enterprise Architecture Professionals, compiled the top 15 technology trends EA should watch over the next three years . One of the trends Gene highlighted is that information-as-a-service (IaaS) is finding a broader audience. I see more organizations continuing to show strong interest in IaaS, as evidenced by increasing inquiries, to help with growing data integration challenges that traditional solutions are not addressing. IaaS can significantly alter IT’s approach to its data management strategy and delivers a flexible framework to support transactional, BI, and real-time data.
Here are my top predictions for 2011 related to IaaS: