I’ve been getting a steady trickle of inquires this year about the future of the mainframe from our enterprise clients. Most of them are more or less in the form of “I have a lot of stuff running on mainframes. Is this a viable platform for the next decade or is IBM going to abandon them.” I think the answer is that the platform is secure, and in the majority of cases the large business-critical workloads that are currently on the mainframe probably should remain on the mainframes. In the interests of transparency I’ve tried to lay out my reasoning below so that you can see if it applies to your own situation.
How Big is the Mainframe LOB?
It's hard to get exact figures for the mainframe contributions to IBM's STG (System & Technology Group) total revenues, but the data they have shared shows that their mainframe revenues seem to have recovered from the declines of previous quarters and at worst flattened. Because the business is inherently somewhat cyclical, I would expect that the next cycle of mainframes, rumored to be arriving next year, should give them a boost similar to the last major cycle, allowing them to show positive revenues next year.
In a move that would boost BT’s standing as the leading integrated telco and increase pressure for competitors, Orange and Deutsche Telekom have entered into exclusive negotiations with BT Group regarding a potential divestment of 100% of their shares in EE, their joint venture in the UK. The purchase price of £12.5 billion on a debt-/cash-free basis would be split equally between Orange and Deutsche Telekom. At a price of roughly 7.8 times EV/EBITDA the deal isn’t outrageously overpriced. So what could this mean for the various market participants? Should the deal go ahead, we believe that the implications for the UK telco market would be significant as:
BT becomes once again the leading integrated telco in the land. A deal would have a larger impact on BT’s consumer than its business activities given EE’s customer base of 24.5 million mostly consumer mobile customers. As the strongest 4G LTE provider in the UK, EE would give BT a platform to deliver interesting new bundles such as dedicated sport channels for smartphones and tablets. EE would be an important asset to enhance BT’s already successful retail arm, in particular its IPTV activities, where BT is one of the few telcos that manages to offset the decline in traditional telco services with a new offering. The deal would fail to bring any significant new customer relationships in the business arena. Going forward, however, this would finally provide BT with the opportunity to develop mobile moments for its business customers.
SaaS has been around for 20 years, cloud platforms nearly a decade. That must mean they’ve worked all the kinks out, right. You know better. There are wide variances in the maturity, stability and enterprise-readiness of the many cloud services categories. There are certainly differences between vendors within the same category, as demonstrated in each of our Forrester Waves, but there are significant differences between the many classes of cloud services. For example, internal private clouds are far less mature than their public counterparts and the desktop-as-a-service category continues to struggle to find its place in the market.
This is the reason Forrester created the Tech Radar. This class of report helps enterprise clients delineate between categories of services based on their maturity, adoption by other enterprise clients and helps ascertain the likely return on investment you can expect at its current level of maturity. The latest Cloud Computing Tech Radar, published this month on Forrester.com, plots each major category of cloud services along two axis:
I’ve been talking to a number of users and providers of bare-metal cloud services, and am finding the common threads among the high-profile use cases both interesting individually and starting to connect some dots in terms of common use cases for these service providers who provide the ability to provision and use dedicated physical servers with very similar semantics to the common VM IaaS cloud – servers that can be instantiated at will in the cloud, provisioned with a variety of OS images, be connected to storage and run applications. The differentiation for the customers is in behavior of the resulting images:
Deterministic performance – Your workload is running on a dedicated resource, so there is no question of any “noisy neighbor” problem, or even of sharing resources with otherwise well-behaved neighbors.
Extreme low latency – Like it or not, VMs, even lightweight ones, impose some level of additional latency compared to bare-metal OS images. Where this latency is a factor, bare-metal clouds offer a differentiated alternative.
Raw performance – Under the right conditions, a single bare-metal server can process more work than a collection of VMs, even when their nominal aggregate performance is similar. Benchmarking is always tricky, but several of the bare metal cloud vendors can show some impressive comparative benchmarks to prospective customers.
Since the dawn of big data data quality and data governance professionals are yelling on rooftops about the impact of dirty data. Data scientists are equally yelling back that good enough data is the new reality. Data trust at has turned relative.
Consider these data points from recent Forrester Business Technographics Survey on Data and Analytics and our Online Global Survey on Data Quality and Trust:
Nearly 9 out of 10 data professionals rate data quality as a very important or important aspect of information governance
43% of business and technology management professionals are somewhat confident in their data, and 25% are concerned
The cloud market in China is changing fast. The official launch of the commercial operations of Microsoft Azure (Azure) earlier this year started a new chapter (as detailed in my March blog post), while last weekend’s Amazon Web Services (AWS) summit was held in China for the first time and announced the third episode of this war. AWS is speeding up building its ecosystem and starting to challenge both Microsoft’s early-mover advantage and the market share of other global and local players.
To help CIOs and enterprise architects set up their hybrid cloud strategy in the region, we’ve put together a brief comparison of the Azure and AWS offerings and ecosystems in China:
Operations.Microsoft made Azure available for preview in China on June 6, 2013 and announced its commercial launch on March 25, 2014, stating that it would be operated by 21ViaNet and have a service-level agreement (SLA) of 99.95%. It has two dedicated data centers in Beijing and Shanghai. AWS announced the availability of its “Beijing region” in China on December 18, 2013, but it still hasn’t announced its official commercial launch, other than a partnership with Cloud Valley. Currently, AWS has only one data center in Ningxia province.
Offerings.Azure offerings cover services for compute (VM, websites, cloud services, etc.); data (storage, SQL database, HDInsight, backup, etc.); applications (service bus, Active Directory, CDN, media services, notification services, etc.); and networking (virtual network, Traffic Manager, etc.). Azure also provides other solutions, such as infrastructure services, data management, and application development and deployment.
Casual spectators of business behavior can't help being jaded; every day they see news stories about corporate fraud, security breaches, delayed safety recalls, and other sorts of general malfeasance. But what they don't see is the renewed time and investment companies around the world are putting toward implementing and reporting on responsible behavior (this less sensational side of the story gets far less coverage).
This week, Nick Hayes and I published an exciting new report, Meet Customers' Demands For Corporate Responsibility, which looks at the corporate responsibility reporting habits of the world's largest companies. While it's easy to think that the business community is as dirty as ever, we actually found a substantial increase over the past 6 years in what these companies included in their CSR and sustainability reports.
We're living in a time when smart, connected devices -- tablets, smartphones, wearable devices, Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and the like -- are being woven into the Business Technology (BT) Agenda of most companies. Nowhere is this trend more intimately applied to the customer experience than in healthcare, where devices near our bodies, on our bodies, or even inside our bodies are changing the way doctors, insurers, and other healthcare players think about patient care.
In a a major new report, Four Ways Connected Devices Improve Patient Care, we've researched how mobile, cloud, and connected devices come together to reshape the patient care experience. Technology innovations on the device and services side are creating new treatment options. And systemic changes to the healthcare system are creating both challenges and opportunities, which these emerging technologies can help address. For instance:
Busy doctors spend too much time on electronic health record (EHR) data entry. And when they use a traditional PC in the room with a patient, it's not always a great experience; one doctor told us he felt his "back was to the patient" too often. The solution? Moving to a Surface Pro 3 tablet, armed with better software, which allows the clinician to face the patient directly while still saving time -- and gaining accuracy -- on EHR data entry.
The rise of the DevOps role in the enterprise and the increasing requirements of agility beyond infrastructure and applications make the platform-as-a-service (PaaS) market one to watch for both CIOs and enterprise architecture professionals. On December 9, the membership of Cloud Foundry, a major PaaS open source project, announced the formation of the Cloud Foundry Foundation.
In my view, this is as important as the establishment of OpenStack foundation in 2012, which was a game-changing move for the cloud industry. Here’s why:
PaaS is becoming an important alternative to middleware stacks. Forrester defines PaaS as a complete application platform for multitenant cloud environments that includes development tools, runtime, and administration and management tools and services. (See our Forrester Wave evaluation for more detail on the space and its vendors.) In the cloud era, it’s a transformational alternative to established middleware stacks for the development, deployment, and administration of custom applications in a modern application platform, serving as a strategic layer between infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and software-as-a-service (SaaS) with innovative tools.
Cloud Foundry is one major open source PaaS software. Cloud Foundry as a technology was designed and architected by Derek Collison and built in the Ruby and Go programming languages by Derek and Vadim Spivak (wiki is wrong!). VMware released it as open source in 2011 after Derek joined the company. Early adopters of Cloud Foundry include large multinationals like Verizon, SAP, NTT, and SAS, as well as Chinese Internet giants like Baidu.
We’ve all done it. We've spent hours flinging birds at pigs, only to be frustrated with that one little piggy that got away. We can all thank the phenomenon “Angry Birds” for this wonderful experience. Today marks the fifth birthday of the release of the original Angry Birds. Since its release, the highly successful mobile game creator Rovio has gone on to sell hundreds of millions of dollars of mobile apps, licenses, and merchandise amassing $216M in revenue in 2013 alone. Who knew that a simple change in game mechanics could gain such a cult foothold with the public? From a business perspective, the team at appfigures did a great write-up on the history of the franchise, along with its successes and failures in the eyes of the public. If you’re interested in the business life cycle of apps in the public app store, I highly recommend you go read their research: Angry Birds Turns Five: What We Can Learn From The Franchise’s Success.