The benefits of virtualization are quite obvious but when you start to really increase the density of virtual machines in order to maximize utilization suddenly it ain't such a simple proposition. The latest CPUs from AMD and Intel are more than up to the task of running 10-20 or more applications at a time. Most servers run out of memory and I/O bandwidth well before processing power. Recent announcements from the leading server vendors have been made to address the memory side by packing more DIMMs onto a single motherboard (including blade server boards), but you can only add so many Ethernet cards and Fibre Channel HBAs. Oh yeah, and then there's the switch ports to go with them (blade systems help a lot here).
With retail confidence and global cargo volumes at their lowest for 5 years, retailers face increased pressure to identify quick ways to minimize costs, reduce unplanned mark downs and avoid incidence of “out-of-stock”, while trying to stretch margins, improve the merchandizing mix and increase customer satisfaction.
One retail executive told Forrester “I have any number of proposals to engage in multi year, multi million IT projects. But we don’t have the luxury to indulge in those. My boss needs results now. I need to prove that we are making progress against our financial and strategic objectives in the next quarter or two.“
To help our readers, Forrester is currently exploring simple retail IT investments that can yield immediate results. Got ideas or input? Take our confidential survey on Retail IT Investment Priorities to help develop a framework that will help identify quick wins and self funding IT initiatives that are capable of generating returns for shareholders in six month or less.
Earlier this week, The Boston Globe reported that Egenera laid off short of 100 employees under the guise of the weakening economy, but there is more to this story. The reduction also reflects a shift in strategy to increase its focus on PAN Manager, its virtualization management software. Originally tied to its unique BladeFrame hardware products, PAN Manager was freed earlier this year and is currently distributed by Fujitsu-Siemens and Dell. As is often the case for hardware companies, Egenera's crown jewels are in this software and PAN Manager is one of the most mature, feature rich and enterprise tested of the virtualization software managers on the market.
I am experiencing Cloud fatigue already. If I hear anyone even come close to uttering the word "Cloud 2.0", I might be found hiding in the Forrester fitness room in a fetal position. I am a fan of Cloud computing and my colleague James Staten has a great report on cloud in the enterprise. I think that cloud computing such Amazon EC2, Microsoft Azure, IBM, Google AppEngine, and others are legitimate and have a great future in infrastructure. What I am not a fan of is the buzzword grab going on by many technology companies saying they work in the cloud, have a cloud strategy, or have a new cloud offering à la SOA, Web 2.0, and whatever is next. Vendor X can work in the cloud. Well, no kidding. You just spin up your platform in the cloud and run your app on it.
At Dreamforce today, here in San Francisco, Salesforce.com announced a significant, and seemingly long overdue, enhancement to its SaaS offering. They announced Facebook and Force.com for Amazon Web Services that are pre-integrations between their platform and these two other platforms. This new capability lets enterprise customers of their CRM solution (or any other AppExchange or Force.com) provide a public front-end to their instance of these services, directly from these services. The big deal with these additions is that they let you tie third party applications directly into your Force.com applications. In the case of the AWS integration, if you have applications or services built in Java, the LAMP stack or native C code, you can integrate them with your Force.com apps.
But there are new options emerging from governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) vendors. For example, Archer Technologies has added a business continuity management module to its GRC SmartSuite Framework. I recently saw a demo of the offering and I found it to be intuitive and comprehensive. It's also closely aligned with the British Standard for Business Continuity Management, BS 25999. I also recently met with MetricStream, they have also added a BCM module to their GRC platform. Provided that you've already purchased the core GRC platform from one of these vendors, buying the BCM module is significantly less expensive that buying or subscribing to a tier 1 stand-alone BCM offering. Tier 1 offerings start at US$100K and average sales prices can be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. The add-on modules to these GRC platforms will start between $30K-$50K.
Did you know that three vendors with something in common grew rapidly during the last recession? WebEx, Placeware (now Microsoft LiveMeeting cum Office Communications Server), and Salesforce.com all grew during the last recession.
One of the reasons is that they offered valuable services -- Web conferencing and sales force automation – that companies needed help with. But the other thing they had in common is that they packaged their offering as a cloud-based service with a pay-as-you-go pricing model.
This model offered three immediate benefits to cash-strapped companies:
It was cheap and easy to get started with these cloud-based services.
The business could buy the services without IT’s help, at least initially.
It was easy to provision these services for business users.
Sometimes enterprise IT development shops that are doing development in Java, C#, VB.NET forget that it all began with C++. Invented in 1981 by Bjarne Stroustrup, C++ was arguably the first popular object-oriented language even though languages like Smalltalk proceeded it. Java was first released by Sun in 1995, fourteen years after C++ was invented.
Yesterday morning best-of-breed field service optimization vendor, ClickSoftware Technologies, and enterprise applications software giant, SAP, announced a heightened extension to their successful partnering history. Building on an existing record of successful synergy between the two technologies, especially within the utilities industry, SAP will now recognize ClickSoftware as a Solution Extension (SOLEX) Partner.
As an SAP SOLEX partner, ClickSoftware’s Service Optimization Suite will be sold by SAP as the SAP Workforce Scheduling and Optimization application by ClickSoftware.
How is this different from today?
ClickSoftware’s optimization suite of products will now appear on SAP’s official pricelist. As a result, SAP account executives will now be compensated for selling the ClickSoftware product and clients will have access to SAP’s support service infrastructure.
Prospective buyers, especially existing SAP customers, will have the advantage of negotiating through one vendor, one contract, one sales team – well, you get the idea.
SAP will package and resell Click’s solution suite into three bundled offerings. 1) Effectively the entire ClickSoftware suite of products with SAP Workforce Scheduling and Optimization Suite by ClickSoftware; 2) the real-time scheduling optimization and analytics product with SAP Workforce Scheduling and Optimization by ClickSoftware – Field Service and Maintenance Scheduling; and 3) the demand forecasting and resource planning products with SAP Workforce Scheduling and Optimization by ClickSoftware – Forecasting and Rostering.
"I don't want 10 developers. I want 3 great ones", is what a client told me when I asked him how his company was responding to the economic crisis. Of course, I think this is good advice even in good times and I think we have gotten away from this is recent years. Why? I think there are couple of reasons:
Outsourcing changed the focus from finding great developers to hiring large numbers of developers.
Project managers and business analysts worked their darndest to separate developers from the business problems that develoeprs need to solve. Agile has mitigated this a bit, but treating developers like machines on an assembly has been in fashion for years now.
There are fewer great developers because back in the day people passionate about software development gravitated towards a career in application development. Now it is a career choice for many and percentage of great developers has been diluted and thus they are harder to find.
I am asking every application development professional I talk to, including you, the following questions: