Networking Is A Hot Mess

Andre Kindness

A few weeks ago, Cisco announced plans for its “spin-in” investment, Insieme Networks: The newest next-generation data center network called, Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI).This new offering includes hardware (the Cisco Nexus 9000 series), new firmware (enhanced version of NX-OS), and a new controller (Application Policing Infrastructure Controller).

Even though Cisco’s ACI launch indicates the magnitude of disruption software-defined networking (SDN) is causing in the industry, and Forrester has provided our quick take on this announcement, I think we have a much bigger story at play here. We are only at the beginning – not middle or end – of sorting out the hot mess that networking is in. And for good reason. The network is the only technology in the business that touches every person, device, and aspect of the business. With that said, networking professionals are trying to support the data center team’s request for a private cloud, employees bringing their own devices and applications to work, and the business circumventing infrastructure and operations for backup-as-a-service or software-as-a-service. Don’t even get me started about the Internet of Things shifting the ownership of the network to non-information technology (IT) personnel or the business opportunity it could bring.

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Google Apps For Business May Be Doomed In Mainland China

Frank Liu

On December 10, Google announced that it is scrapping plans to build a data center in Hong Kong. Instead, it will double its planned investment in its Taiwan data center to $600 million. This undoubtedly worsens the already grave situation for about 32,000 Google Apps users in mainland China, as Google never officially launched Google Enterprise solutions for customers there.

Google Apps for Business users in mainland China have long faced challenges connecting to Gmail, Google Drive, and Google Sites. Previously, I predicted that Google would improve its relationship with the Chinese government and offer Google Enterprise (including Google Apps) from its new Hong Kong data center in 2014, improving customers’ access to the service. However, this week’s news has killed any hope of that happening.

This has a few implications for customers in mainland China and Hong Kong:

  • Uncertainty around Google’s Enterprise Business and Google Apps strategy will kill new business.When you don’t understand a vendor’s local sales and support strategy, you’re not likely to include it on your shortlist. Google faces losing new business from companies based in mainland China and Hong Kong companies with a mainland presence.
  • Enterprises planning to adopt cloud-based email and collaboration suites will look elsewhere.Google Apps isn’t the only suite option. Microsoft now offers Office 365 services in mainland China via a local data center in Shanghai. And local Chinese vendors like Tencent, Sina, and 163 provide more competitively priced hosted services.
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Does Your IT Infrastructure Best Support Your eCommerce Business?

Frank Liu

The growth in today’s online retail market in China remains staggering, driven by rapid increases in the total number of online buyers and online spending per buyer. Web-only retailers dominate this market, but the dynamic is starting to shift as an increasing number of traditional retailers embrace eCommerce, including local companies and multinational corporations. eCommerce companies are at the forefront of technology adoption to better support business. However, I&O professionals face several challenges:

  • Storage capacity, data sharing, and server efficiency cannot keep up with business growth. 
  • Online traffic peaks overload infrastructure, leading to poor client experiences.
  • Social media information overloads traditional analytics. 
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Dell, Tesla, Space X, and Taking Chances: From the Floor At DellWorld 2013

JP Gownder

DellWorld 2013 showcases the newly-private Dell’s rediscovered sense of mission: Founder and CEO Michael Dell described the new company as the “world’s biggest startup.” Freed from the short-term orientation required of publicly traded companies, Dell can accelerate its innovation and risk-taking while following through on its emerging vision.

That vision is to help enterprise customers Transform (e.g. migrate from mainframes to the cloud), Connect (e.g. provide mobile devices and device management services), Inform (e.g. leverage big data analytics through software and services), and Protect (e.g. employ comprehensive security solutions).

Michael Dell spent a good deal of time emphasizing that Dell now has the opportunity to make bigger bets. To underscore that message, he invited Tesla and Space X CEO Elon Musk to appear onstage. Musk knows how to make an entrance, riding into the convention center in one of his company’s cars:

Elon Musk told several stories while onstage, including the revelation that, during Tesla's darkest hours, he pretty much figured the company would fail. But he listed his favorite aspect of the Tesla business as creating a sense of "delight" among the car's buyers -- including Michael Dell, who purchased one online.

Musk's presence emphasized a number of admirable qualities to which the new Dell aspires. Risk-taking, entrepreneurialism, disruption, and strategic vision. “We need more people like Elon out there taking big risks,” Michael Dell said at one point, reemphasizing the theme of taking chances. 

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Meeting with Tech Mahindra – Insights and Reality Check on IT Automation

Richard Fichera

I recently had a meeting with executives from Tech Mahindra, an Indian-based IT services company, which was refreshing for the both the candor with which they discussed the overall mechanics of a support and integration model with significant components located half a world away, as well as their insights on the realities and limitations of automation, one of the hottest topics in IT operations today.

On the subject of the mechanics and process behind their global integration process, the eye opener for me was the depth of internal process behind the engagements. The common (possibly only common in my mind since I have had less exposure to these companies than some of my peers) mindset of “develop the specs, send them off and receive code back” is no longer even remotely possible. To perform a successful complex integration project takes a reliable set of processes that can link the efforts of the approximately 20 – 40% of the staff on-site with the client with the supporting teams back in India. Plus a massive investment in project management, development frameworks, and collaboration tools, a hallmark of all of the successful Indian service providers.

From a the client I&O group perspective, the relationship between the outsourcer and internal groups becomes much more than an arms-length process, but rather a tightly integrated team in which the main visible differentiator is who pays their salary rather than any strict team, task or function boundary. For the integrator, this is a strong positive, since it makes it difficult for the client to disengage, and gives the teams early knowledge of changes and new project opportunities. From the client side there are drawbacks and benefits – disengagement is difficult, but knowledge transfer is tightly integrated and efficient.

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Three Vendors Rise To The Top Of The Private Cloud Market

Lauren Nelson

In Q2 2011, Forrester wrote one of the market's first private cloud vendor evaluations which scored vendors on ten criteria. Over the past two years private cloud has shifted from concept to reality with 55% of enterprise hardware decision makers planning to build an internal private cloud in 2014 (up from 29% in 2011) according to our Forrsights Hardware Survey, Q3 2013. Due to popular demand, Forrester decided to update this report with a full Forrester Wave evaluation composed of 61 criteria. Vendors evaluated in this report represent today's top software-only private cloud vendors -- ASG Software Solutions, BMC Software, CA Technologies, Cisco Systems, Citrix Systems, Eucalyptus Systems, HP, IBM, Microsoft, and VMware. After many long hours on weekends and holidays, this report is finally complete, with three vendors rising to the top -- HP, Cisco, and Microsoft. For the full details of the strengths and weaknesses of each vendor, see The Forrester Wave™: Private Cloud Solutions, Q4 2013

How did Forrester select and evaluate vendors? Each vendor met the following qualifiers: 

  • Self-service portal and role-based access.
  • Infrastructure provisioning capabilities.
  • Management capabilities.
  • Monitoring and tracking of resources.
  • API-based.
  • Generally available by April 1, 2013.
  • More than 100 unique customers. 
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Apple Purchases PrimeSense, Opening Up New Computing Experiences – And Enterprise Solutions

JP Gownder

Apple has completed an acquisition of the Israeli firm PrimeSense, a sensing company whose technology has powered Microsoft’s popular Xbox Kinect for Xbox 360. (Microsoft moved to an in-house technology for the Xbox Kinect for Xbox One).

For the consumer market, Apple’s purchase opens up a number of tantalizing product possibilities:

  • Apple TV. The long-rumored Apple television set – as well as the long-extant AppleTV set top device – could both benefit from motion-sensing and depth/color sensing, particularly for next-generation interactive television applications.
  • Mobile and wearable products. PrimeSense has made a strong effort to miniaturize its components, and the next logical step would be to embed its technologies into mobile or wearable computing products. While often seen as a motion-sensing technology, PrimeSense is at base a depth- and color- perception technology that could potentially someday be used to recognize people – or to help the blind navigate the streets.
  • Customized e-commerce. In 2011, I wrote a report suggesting that Kinect and other sensing technologies could be used by companies to offer mass customized clothing and furniture. Imagine scanning your house – or your body – to receive custom-build cabinets or bespoke clothing shipped to you in short order. PrimeSense technology can already empower these mass customized scenarios.
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Driving Technologies That Will Delight Customers

JP Gownder

Businesses that thrive and grow in the age of the customer are obsessed with customer delight: the most successful companies are reinventing themselves to systematically understand and serve increasingly powerful customers. This business reality creates new imperatives for everyone inside an organization, and infrastructure & operations (I&O) professionals are not immune. So the question becomes, how does I&O participate in the transformation of the enterprise toward customer obsession?

The answer to this question is important, because technology's role in business is rapidly changing -- from a world in which Information Technology (IT) enabled a company to function more efficiently, to a world of Business Technology (BT), which we define as technology, systems, and processes to win, serve, and retain customers. Yet customer-facing technologies aren't always (or even often) the traditional role of I&O. So how can I&O participate?

How about starting with a simple dictum? Spend more time on technologies that will inspire and delight customers, either directly or indirectly. To start this journey, I'd like you to watch this short video of how a digital billboard has gone viral:

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How Tablets Can Revolutionize The Sales Process

JP Gownder

Over the past few years, tablets have reshaped computing for many enterprise workforces. But tablets aren't general-issue devices for all employees; instead, companies equip specific groups of employees with tablets -- with particular business goals in mind. High on the list of tablet-equipped roles are salespeople: According to IT decision-makers, sales professionals are the second most likely group of employees to receive company-owned tablets as standard-issue devices.

In a new report, "Empower Salespeople With Tablets To Drive Value For Your Business," we offer infrastructure & operations professionals some guidelines about how to deploy tablets to the salesforce at their companies. It's a different exercise than with traditional PC deployments: I&O professionals must work with business leaders, sales management, sales enablement professionals, and with sales reps themselves throughout the process. To reap the full rewards of tablets, the sales process itself must be reengineered, sales reps must be trained, and customer-facing software and materials must be developed. I&O can't do all of this alone, and must instead build new, deeper relationships with business partners.

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Your Input Required - Service Engineering Role!!

Eveline Oehrlich

Engaging All Service Engineering Folks: Help Forrester Define “Service Engineering” As A New Role Within Infrastructure & Operations (Or Beyond)! A variety of technology trends such as mobility and clouds are empowering consumers and connects employees who all are interacting and collaborating through apps and devices which are changing the way business is conducted. In response, organizations are forced to accelerate business changes which require the need for agility innovating new technology choices, implementation options, and delivery approaches. In this new pace of change the business demands more of IT to help deliver services which enable and support the age of the customer. Some Infrastructure & Operations teams have made the transformation to manage and support BT services which consist of technology, systems, and processes to win, serve and retain customers. Other organizations still manage and support components which range from operating systems, middleware, general purpose components, applications and custom components built all for specific purposes. I&O teams have become good at building components, but it often lacks the engineering discipline to assemble these components into services that meet specific business needs and are relevant in the age of the customer. To stay relevant and transform Infrastructure & Operations in the age of the customer, I&O needs a new role – service engineering. Service engineers mainly “do” three things:

1. Think and act from the outside-in – this means establishing, managing and continually improving services which are critical and essential for business enablement and business success.

2. Participate and support the DevOps journey – business agility in large parts depends on technology today. The DevOps team plays a large role in the quality and speed of technology delivery.

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