Are Hong Kong And Taiwan Losing Out In The Age Of The Customer?

Bryan Wang

In the past three weeks, I’ve been in Hong Kong and Taiwan; several things that happened while I was there led me to think about their competitiveness in the age of the customer.

I was in Hong Kong to moderate three panels at a CIO summit. During a break, I chatted with a Singaporean CIO who’s been working in Hong Kong for 15 years but is thinking about moving back. We discussed the recent criticisms of mainland Chinese who allow their small children to pee by the curb of main thoroughfares. Hong Kong media and residents have been quick to criticize mainland parents without listening to their explanations that the city doesn’t have enough public toilets and that there are long queues at every shopping mall — hardly a surprise given that Hong Kong attracts more than 100 million visitors from mainland China each year.

Yesterday, I read that Hong Kong’s chief executive is considering limiting the number of mainland visitors to address local residents’ complaints. I wonder what impact passing such a bill would have on the city’s retail revenue growth, employment rate, commercial property prices, attractiveness towards global investment — even its economic freedom index ranking. As my CIO friend asked me: “Imagine what would happen if, for just one day, no mainland tourists came to Hong Kong. What impact would that have on Hong Kong’s retail, property, and financial markets?” I had no answer for that.

On to Taiwan: I was just in Taipei for a couple of days on business. I go to Taipei at least once a year, but this is the first time I’ve gotten the impression that Taiwan is really losing its attractiveness, despite the fact that I really love the city’s culture and food.

Read more

Salesforce Wear Aims To Turbo-Charge Both Enterprise And B2B2C Wearables Markets

JP Gownder

On June 10, Salesforce.com announced Salesforce Wear, a bundle of free tools and reference applications aimed at evangelizing the power of enterprise wearables. The offering supports six different wearable devices, each with its own open-source reference application to help developers design and build wearable apps that connect to the Salesforce1 platform.

Salesforce Wear has the potential to turbo-charge the growing market for enterprise wearables. Enterprises using Salesforce Wear will gain tools and reference applications that immediately apply to six wearable devices: three smart watches (Pebble, Samsung Gear, and Android Wear), plus Google Glass, the Myo armband, and Bionym’s Nymi authentication device.

Some of the reference applications are pure enterprise/B2B workforce enablement applications, like the Google Glass application for oil rigs, which can be generalized to other field service scenarios (and which, conceptually, I have written about before). Salesforce Wear’s app facilitates real-time field actions by providing schematics of the equipment being serviced, offering a view into the full service history of the equipment, and connecting field workers to colleagues for real-time collaboration. All in all, the reference app helps field workers fix problems more quickly and effectively.

Salesforce Wear's Casino Reference Application with the Bionym Nymi Band. Source: Salesforce

Read more

Red Hat Releases RHEL 7 – Linux Continues Its March To The Top

Richard Fichera

When the first Linux distributions based on the 3.0 kernel were released almost a year ago, I was struck by how far Linux had advanced. The latest turn of the crank for Linux, in the form of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 (RHEL 7), reinforces this opinion. Built primarily on recent versions of the Linux 3.0 et seq kernel available to the entire Linux community, including SUSE, Red Hat, Cannonical and others, RHEL 7 continues the progress of the Linux community toward an OS that is fully capable of replacing proprietary RISC/UNIX for the vast majority of enterprise workloads. It is apparent, both from the details on RHEL 7 and from perusing the documentation on other distribution providers, that Linux has continued to mature nicely as both a foundation for large scale-out clouds as well as a strong contender for the kind of enterprise workloads that previously were only comfortable on either RISC/UNIX systems or large Microsoft Server systems. In effect, Linux has continued its maturation to the point where its feature set and scalability begin to look like and feel like a top-tier UNIX.

In addition to the required low-level plumbing – schedulers, memory management and file systems capable of keeping up with both high-volume transactions and operating effectively in large distributed clusters – Red Hat has also focused on features to improve the installation and management experience, thus directly reducing cost of ownership, following in the footsteps of other modern OS development trajectories.

Among the enterprise technology that caught my eye:

Read more

New Research For The Customer-Obsessed I&O Leader

Dave Bartoletti

It’s no surprise that digital disruption is everywhere. Empowered customers are disrupting every industry, and infrastructure and operations (I&O) leaders must adapt to this new reality. We believe that technology management is in the middle of a new evolutionary cycle that will transform I&O from its traditional role as infrastructure provider to a new role as a broker and manager of technology services.

It’s should also be no surprise, then, that cloud and mobile disruption is putting a strain on traditional infrastructure team organizational structures. Consolidated and hybrid cloud infrastructure needs a new organization, and you need to prepare your team for the new business technology era. To do so, you need to encourage your team to develop service management, automation, collaboration, and marketing skills, to name a few. We’re seeing a spike in inquiries about new organization models to speed the path to cloud.

Read more

Understanding Cloud Costs Gets Easier: Amazon Web Services Rolls Out New TCO Calculator

Dave Bartoletti

Two years ago, I published one of my most popular reports, Understand The True Cost Of Cloud Services. In it I laid out a model to help compare current infrastructure costs against the costs of running equivalent workloads at a traditional hosting provider and in the AWS public cloud. This type of comparison is often the first step in a company’s journey to cloud. Before you start moving workloads to any cloud provider, are you sure the cost savings are really there? The answer isn’t always obvious, and depends on measuring a set of critical metrics, including:

·       Your application load patterns

·       Your current operations team staff costs

·       Your virtualization consolidation ratio

·       Your storage and network hardware, license and administrative costs

·       Your facilities (space, power, cooling) costs

The problem with cloud cost modeling is that it can be hard to get accurate estimates for current costs – find the right people, ask them for cost details, work through the numbers, verify accuracy, project future costs, etc. – and things that take too long just don’t get done. In our model, we used our Relative Cost of Operations methodology to simplify analysis and focus on what changes when you shift to cloud infrastructure. I also faulted some of the public cloud providers for low-balling cloud costs or hiding assumptions in their own on-line cost comparison tools.

Read more

New AWS Management Tool For VMware Is Just That – A New Tool, Not A Cloud Game-Changer

Dave Bartoletti

The new Amazon Web Services Management Portal for vCenter was launched last week and generated a bit of buzz on Twitter and elsewhere. VMware reacted quite strongly, and I think that makes sense in a hyper-competitive cloud market, but it was a bit out of proportion to the real threat posed by the AWS tool.

I doubt most savvy cloud buyers (or VMware admins, for that matter) will think this new plug-in for vCenter is a cloud management tool. It’s not. Like other vCenter plug-ins, it makes it easier for an admin using vCenter to get something done without leaving the wildly popular virtualization management portal (like the P2V or V2V tools of yore). In this case, that something includes VMware-to-EC2 conversions and some basic housekeeping tasks: create an AWS virtual private cloud, launch an instance, etc. Image creation, migration, and basic configuration does not a complete cloud management solution make – there’s a lot more to do to create and manage a hybrid cloud implementation and enable workload portability. But this will make it easier to run conversions to AWS and that irks VMware a bit, since it offers its own public cloud option in vCloud Hybrid Service (vCHS).

Rather than draw attention to how limited the AWS Management Portal is, VMware should use its existence to drive home three important points about the company’s overall cloud positioning:

1) allowing competitors to add plug-ins to manage competing public cloud instances shows that VMware’s not scared to compete for your cloud VMs;

2) vCenter is obviously very sticky and widely used, and AWS wants to get in front of those eyeballs – VMware still has critical admin mindshare; and

Read more

Decoding Huawei – Emergence as a Major IT Player Looms

Richard Fichera

Last month I attended Huawei’s annual Global Analyst Summit, for the requisite several days of mass presentations, executive meetings and tours that typically constitute such an event. Underneath my veneer of blasé cynicism, I was actually quite intrigued, since I really knew very little about Huawei. And what I did know was tainted by popular and persistent negatives – they were the ones who supposedly copied Cisco’s IP to get into the network business, and, until we got better acquainted with our own Federal Government’s little shenanigans, Huawei was the big bad boogie man who was going to spy on us with every piece of network equipment they installed.

Reality was quite a bit different. Ancient disputes about IP aside, I found a $40B technology powerhouse who is probably the least-known and understood company of its size in the world, and one which appears poised to pose major challenges to incumbents in several areas, including mainstream enterprise IT.

So you don’t know Huawei

First, some basics. Huawei’s 2013 revenue was $39.5 Billion, which puts it right up there with some much better-known names such as Lenovo, Oracle, Dell and Cisco.

 

% Revenue / $ revenue (Billions)

Annual Growth rate

Telco & network equipment

70 / $27.7

7%

Consumer (mobile devices)

24 / $9.5

18%

Enterprise business (servers, storage, software)

Read more

Microsoft's New Surface Makes A Strong Case For Device Consolidation

JP Gownder

Yesterday, Microsoft released the Surface Pro 3, a 12" touchscreen device billed as "the tablet that can replace your laptop." Sporting some hard-core computing bona fides (including Intel processors and Windows 8.1) and new innovations (like an active stylus that activates note-taking outside of the lock screen), the device in its third generation offers a new level of mobility despite having a larger screen than its predecessors in the Surface line. It's worth taking a look at:

Microsoft designed the Surface Pro 3 with a variety of seemingly incremental improvements that, once assembled in the same device, make it surprisingly innovative. In fact, you should think about it as quite a departure from the earlier Surface models. With this product, Microsoft makes its best yet argument for device consolidation for the workforce, potentially allowing some workers to stop carrying separate laptop and tablet devices in favor of Pro 3. For consumers, the Surface Pro 3 doesn't act as a substitute for popular 8" form factor tablets, but it might make for a good laptop replacement.

That's not to say it's (to quote the cliche) any sort of "iPad killer"; the starting price of a Surface Pro 3 is higher than the iPad's starting price. It's more like a successor to the laptop -- but one that takes mobility quite seriously. Altogether, it's likely to be popular among prosumers, BYOD consumers, and perhaps some other segments.

Read more

Google Glass Helps Enterprise Workers Help Themselves

JP Gownder

Google recently announced an expansion of its Explorer Edition program to anyone in the U.S. — still at $1,500. This doesn't constitute the mass market release of the product; it's an incremental move to extend its beta program. I believe the move mostly benefits enterprise customers of the device — continuing Forrester's research call that Glass will be more successful among enterprise customers than among consumers, at least in the short term.

Recently, I've received a number of questions about wearables as they pertain to field service work. In the age of the customer, field service work has a direct impact on customer service. Think of the cable repair person. The top reason cable repair people fail to fix a problem with your cable service on the first visit is that they have never seen the specific problem before; it's a long tail of possible problems. Traditionally, the cable person would need to go back to headquarters and log a return visit -- inconveniencing the customer, who might have stayed home from work to meet the repair person, and harming the workforce productivity of the cable company's agents. It's lose-lose.

With wearables, cable companies and other companies employing field workers can increase the percentage of first-time fixes. Recently, ClickSoftware and FieldBit posted a video demonstrating one such solution:

Read more

Is Red Hat Storage The Future Of Software Storage?

Henry Baltazar

With last week's $175M acquisition of storage startup Inktank, the initial developer of the Open Source Ceph storage platform, Red Hat has added another piece to its growing storage portfolio. With large storage players fleshing out their software storage offerings including EMC (ScaleIO, Project Nile), NetApp, HP, and IBM, it's clear that the transition from hardware-centric storage appliances to software storage is underway — and it won't be long before we are at a point where your next array should be an app running on commodity hardware.

Though large storage players have successfully fended off software challengers such as Symantec before, it is telling that nearly all of the major players are developing and marketing their own software storage products, including EMC’s ScaleIO. The drive toward software storage is clearly gaining momentum, and this time around the storage leaders are active participants in addition to startups such as Nexenta Systems and the Open Source projects.

While Red Hat is not a major storage player today, there are a few reasons why this company could become disruptive as the market transitions to software storage:

  • No legacy business to lose. This is probably the most powerful attribute that makes Red Hat dangerous relative to existing storage players. While Red Hat’s market share (in terms of storage revenue and paying customers) is nowhere near the likes of leaders such as NetApp and EMC, its lack of legacy business will allow Red Hat to attack the NAS, object, and block storage market without the sacrifice of losing high-margin storage appliance sales.  
Read more