As CEOs put IT budgets under pressure year after year, CIOs and their teams focus on balancing money spent on running the business (RTB) versus money spent on growing the business (GTB). By decreasing the percentage of their budget spent on maintenance and ongoing operations (RTB), they aim to have a greater share of their budget to spend on projects that grow the business. In the best IT organizations, the ratio can sometimes approach 50:50 — however, a more typical ratio is 70% RTB and 30% GTB.
Unfortunately, such practices suggest an incremental budget cycle — one that looks at the prior year’s spend to determine the next year’s budget. While this may be appropriate for the RTB portion of the IT budget, it is far from ideal for the GTB portion. Incremental budgeting for GTB results in enormous tradeoffs being made as part of the IT governance process, with steering committees making decisions on which projects can be funded based upon the IT and business strategy. Anyone from outside of IT who has worked through IT governance committees understands just how challenging that process can be. And the ultimate result of such tradeoffs is that sometimes valuable projects go unfunded or shadow-IT projects spring up to avoid the process altogether.
To paraphrase Charles Dickens, Q2 2010 seemed like the best of times or the worst of times for the big software vendors. For Microsoft, it was the best of times; for IBM, it was (comparatively) the worst of times; and for SAP it was in between. IBM on June 19, 2010, reported total revenue growth of just 2% in the fiscal quarter ending June 30, 2010, with its software unit also reporting 2% growth (6%, excluding the revenues of its divested product lifecycle management group from Q2 2009). Those growth rates were down from 5% growth for IBM overall in Q1 2010, and 11% for the software group. In comparison, Microsoft on June 22, 2010, reported 22% growth in its revenues, with Windows revenues up 44%, Server and Tools revenues up 14%, and Microsoft Business Division (Office and Dynamics) up 15%. And SAP on June 27, 2010, posted 12% growth in its revenues in euros, 5% growth on a constant currency basis, and 5% growth when its revenues were converted into dollars.
What do these divergent results for revenue growth say about the state of the enterprise software market?
Infrastructure diversity is one important component of many IT infrastructures’ complexity. Even at a time when organizations are standardizing on x86 hardware, they often maintain separate support groups by types of operating systems. In the meantime, we see even more technology diversity developing in a relentless pursuit of performance, and ironically, simplification. This begs a simple question: Should we, for the sake of operational efficiency, standardize at the lowest possible level, e.g., the computing platform, or at a much higher level, e.g., the user interface?
In the past months, I think a clear answer was provided by the mainframe world. One key element that actually limits mainframe expansion in some data centers is the perception from higher levels of management that the mainframe is a complex-to-operate and obsolete platform, too radically different from the Linux and Windows operating systems. This comes from the fact that most mainframe management solutions use an explicit interface for configuration and deployment that requires a detailed knowledge of the mainframe specificity. Mastering it requires skills and experience that unfortunately do not seem to be taught in most computer science classes. Because mainframe education is lacking, the issue seems to be more acute than in other IT segments. This eventually would condemn the mainframe when all the baby boomers decide that they would rather golf in Florida.
This whole perception was shattered to pieces by two major announcements. The most recent one is the new IBM zEnterprise platform, which regroups a mix of hardware and software platforms under a single administration interface. In doing this, IBM provides a solution that actually abstracts the platforms’ diversity and removes the need for different administrators versed in the vagaries of the different operating systems.
There’s an old adage that the worst running car in the neighborhood belongs to the auto mechanic. Why? Because they like to tinker with it. We as IT pros love building and tinkering with things, too, and at one point we all built our own PC and it probably ran about as well as the mechanic's car down the street.
While the mechanic’s car never ran that well, it wasn’t a reflection on the quality of his work on your car because he drew the line between what he can tinker with and what can sink him as a professional (well, most of the time). IT pros do the same thing. We try not to tinker with computers that will affect our clients or risk the service level agreement we have with them. Yet there is a tinkerer’s mentality in all of us. This mentality is evidenced in our data centers where the desire to configure our own infrastructure and build out our own best of breed solutions has resulted in an overly complex mishmash of technologies, products and management tools. There’s lots of history behind this mess and lots of good intentions, but nearly everyone wants a cleaner way forward.
In the vendors’ minds, this way forward is clearly one that has more of their stuff inside and the latest thinking here is the new converged infrastructure solutions they are marketing, such as HP’s BladeSystem Matrix and IBM’s CloudBurst. Each of these products is the vendor’s vision of a cleaner, more integrated and more efficient data center. And there’s a lot of truth to this in what they have engineered. The big question is whether you should buy into this vision.
Just read an excellent article on the subject by Tom Davenport. We at Forrester Research indeed see the same trend, where more advanced enterprises are starting to venture into combining reporting and analytics with decision management. In my point of view, this breaks down into at least two categories:
Automated (machine) vs. non automated (human) decisions, and
Decisions that involve structured (rules and workflows) and unstructured (collaboration) processes
I know, I know, this is what analysts do. But I personally would never want to get involved in doing a BI market size – it’s open game for serious critique. Here are some of the reasons, but the main one is a good old “garbage in garbage out.” I am not aware of any BI market size study that took into account the following questions:
What portion of the DBMS market (DW, DBMS OLAP) do you attribute to BI?
What portion of the BPM market (BAM, process dashboards, etc.) do you attribute to BI?
What portion of the ERP market (with built-in BI apps, such as Lawson, Infor, etc.) do you attribute to BI?
What portion of the portal market (SharePoint is the best example) do you attribute to BI?
What portion of the search market (Endeca, Google Analytics, etc.) do you attribute to BI?
What is the market size of custom developed BI applications?
What is the market size of self built BI apps using Excel, Access, etc?
On the other side, what is the % of licenses sold that are shelfware and should not be counted?
Plus many more unknowns. But, if someone indeed did do such a rough estimate, my bet is that the actual BI market size is probably 3x to 4x larger than any current estimate.
I just completed my second quarter as the Research Director of Forrester’s Security and Risk team. Since no one has removed me from my position, I assume I’m doing an OK job. Q2 was another highly productive quarter for the team. We published 20 reports, ran a security track at Forrester’s IT Forum in Las Vegas and Lisbon, and fielded more than 506 client inquiries.
In April, I discussed the need to focus on the maturity of the security organization itself. I remain convinced that this is the most important priority for security and risk professionals. If we don’t change, we’ll always find ourselves reacting to the next IT shift or business innovation, never predicting or preparing for it ahead of time. It reminds me of the Greek myth of Sisyphus. Sisyphus was a crafty king who earned the wrath of the gods. For punishment, the gods forced him to roll a huge boulder up a steep hill, only to watch it roll back down just before he reached the top — requiring him to begin again. Gods tend to be an unforgiving lot, so Sisyphus has to repeat this process for the rest of eternity.
If my protestations don’t convince you, perhaps some data will. The following are the top five Forrester reports read by security and risk professionals in Q2:
So what does this mean for CIOs and IT, the custodians of enterprise technology architecture?
It is clear Jive wants to play with the big boys in the enterprise software space. To date, many Jive deployments have not involved IT. This ability to deploy its technology without IT’s involvement has no doubt helped Jive to this point. Of course, having market-leading functionality hasn't hurt. (Jive has featured highly in recent Forrester Wave reports).
At the recent Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston, I sat down with Jive’s new CEO, Tony Zingale, to explore the company strategy. From our discussion, it was apparent that Jive intends to compete for a big slice of the enterprise collaboration marketplace. Fundamentally, this is the right direction for Jive, but I foresee some big challenges for the company along the way.
A quick note on a big announcement today by IBM that is being rolled out as I write this. No, I don't have a crystal ball - my colleague Brad Day and I spent a day in Poughkeepsie in late June for the full scoop - provided under NDA. The announcement is massive, so I'll just lay out the high points and a few of my thoughts on what it means to apps folks. I'll leave the deeper I&O/technical details to Brad and others in subsequent posts and research. My goal here is to get a conversation going here on what it may mean to apps people in your IT shops.
What's in the zEnterprise announcement?
It's a new computing environment that unifies Linux, AIX, and z/OS on a new server complex that includes mainframe servers, x86, and Power7 blades under a single set of management software: the zEnterprise Unified Resource Manager (URM).
A 10 Gb private data network joins the new z server (z196) and zBX - an ensemble that houses racks of x86 and Power7 blades. It also includes an intra-ensemble network that is physically isolated from all networks, switches, and routers - permitting removal of blade firewalls.
One client claims a 12-to-1 reduction in network hops by eliminating blade firewalls.
The z196 permits up to 96 Quad-core 5.02 ghz processors, 80 available for customer use, and 112 blades.
What is the impact on applications people and application-platform choice?
zEnterprise is a monster announcement that heralds a long laundry list of improvements - it would be impossible to cover all of the ramifications in a single blog post; however, a brief glimpse of some of the most notable improvements that affect applications folks include (zEnterprise as compared to z10):
I've been leading Forrester's efforts in sustainable computing and green IT for the past three years, with a particular focus on the role of IT professionals and assets in furthering corporate sustainability initiatives. We work with many clients — both supplier and buyer organizations — to improve the adoption, governance, and communications of their green IT and overall sustainability programs and policies.
One of the centerpieces of Forrester's ongoing research in this area is our survey of IT practitioners at enterprises and SMBs worldwide. We have done the survey twice each year since 2007, and it provides a fascinating window into the motivations, depth, and breadth of corporate commitments to greener IT processes and into IT's role in broader corporate sustainability efforts. I want to share two results from our latest survey (conducted in April 2010) and briefly discuss the implications of those findings.
At first look, the data in Figure 1 (click image for a larger version) is not-so-good news for those of us evangelizing and implementing green IT. Simply put, sustainability and energy efficiency rank low (No. 10 out of 11) on IT's priority list. But let's look a little closer at some of the other priorities our survey respondents identified.
"Improve the efficiency of IT" ranks No. 1. That should be directly related to green characteristics of assets and processes, particularly in terms of energy usage. And look at No. 5 on the list, "Define strategy for risk and compliance." This also directly relates to green IT initiatives for e-waste disposal, carbon reporting, and the like.