2011 Retrospective – The Best And The Worst Of The Technology World

Richard Fichera

OK, it’s time to stretch the 2012 writing muscles, and what better way to do it than with the time honored “retrospective” format. But rather than try and itemize all the news and come up with a list of maybe a dozen or more interesting things, I decided instead to pick the best and the worst – events and developments that show the amazing range of the technology business, its potentials and its daily frustrations. So, drum roll, please. My personal nomination for the best and worst of the year (along with a special extra bonus category) are:

The Best – IBM Watson stomps the world’s best human players in Jeopardy. In early 2011, IBM put its latest deep computing project, Watson, up against some of the best players in the world in a game of Jeopardy. Watson, consisting of hundreds of IBM Power CPUs, gazillions of bytes of memory and storage, and arguably the most sophisticated rules engine and natural language recognition capability ever developed, won hands down. If you haven’t seen the videos of this event, you should – seeing the IBM system fluidly answer very tricky questions is amazing. There is no sense that it is parsing the question and then sorting through 200 – 300 million pages of data per second in the background as it assembles its answers. This is truly the computer industry at its best. IBM lived up to its brand image as the oldest and strongest technology company and showed us a potential for integrating computers into untapped new potential solutions. Since the Jeopardy event, IBM has been working on commercializing Watson with an eye toward delivering domain-specific expert advisors. I recently listened to a presentation by a doctor participating in the trials of a Watson medical assistant, and the results were startling in terms of the potential to assist medical professionals in diagnostic procedures.

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Olympics 2012 – Is Your I&O Organization Ready? – Roundtable

John Rakowski

The news this week in the UK has been awash with articles in relation to the potential problems that the Olympics 2012 could bring with reports of transport chaos, security rehearsals happening near Forrester’s London office to secret security documents being left on a train which detail policing measures. This is undoubtedly a unique occasion but with many eyes watching the UK this coming summer it’s something the planners simply have to get right. 

At Forrester, we believe that IT functions need to seriously prepare for the Olympic period also and so we will be holding a half day, collaborative event for our FLB members and interested prospects on Wednesday, 22nd February 2012 from 12:45 – 4:30pm at Forrester’s London office to explore strategic and tactical solutions to these risks. This session will be led by Senior Analyst Dave Johnson, a former software executive with 15 years of industry experience focused on client management and related operational processes and tools.

So why does this matter to you?  

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New Year's Resolution for I&O Professionals: Lead Consumerization From The Front

David Johnson

Step into my office, fellow I&O professional, and join me on a brief but rich journey of imagination. Imagine you're a business jet sales sales rep. Now imagine that this morning you went to the garage where you keep your company car and for the second time in a month, the key fob won't open the doors and you have no other way in. You have a big airplane deal on the table with the head of an investment bank in the city in 1 hour, and it's a 50 minute drive. Just then…as if to mock your dilemma…a voice from the car says "I'm sorry Dave, you do not have access to this car. Would you like to request access from the car's owner?" "IT'S MY CAR", you shout! You think of your boss and what she's going to say: "You should have allowed more time, Dave. Remember, YOU are responsible for your quota. Everyone has the same challenges. It's up to YOU to think ahead."

After an hour, the door unlocks and the car's voice apologizes. "I'm very sorry for the inconvenience, Dave. The motor pool coordinator forgot to add your name to the list of sales reps with company cars after the sales re-org last week. It has been fixed now." $%&#! you yell. You missed the client meeting and the deal, and you will also now miss your quota. To make sure it NEVER happens again, you start making other transportation arrangements. In fact, you think the new Land Rover Evoque fits your style and perhaps you don't need the company car after all. You're being paid on results, and excuses -- no matter how legitimate -- don't count.

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HR Into I&O: Working 9 Till 5, What A Way To Make A Living? – Employee Contracts

John Rakowski

Firstly, let me explain: I am not really a fan of Dolly Parton but I heard this song last night and this got me thinking further about my I&O FLB exclusive report on ‘Tomorrow’s I&O Leaders Require An Equal Blend Of Technology And Business Acumen, which addresses changing skills and recruitment practices. Specifically I asked myself:

“Do current I&O contracts of employment really support agile, customer centric IT operations?”

Now I know the majority of I&O professionals have never lived Dolly’s dream of ‘working 9 Till 5’ anyway but with the fast pace of technology innovation and demands by the business, will we see a time when I&O leaders ring the bell on current formal contracts of employment?

I also take into consideration that a signed employment contract is a legal requirement for a number of reasons but can I&O executives continue to state a set number of working hours, e.g., “you will work x hours per week” as a requirement? I am not advocating flexi-time contracts here but with I&O moving to customer-centric deliverables does this mean that I&O leaders need to align contracts of employment to specific customer I&O services/deliverables and take into account the social lives of their employees?

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Choose A Cloud Or A Cloud Network?

James Staten

You've heard from us for a while that your cloud, whether public or private, should not be an island. Should this be true of your public cloud provider too?

A growing number of service providers are jumping into the Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) market not by building their own solution but by jumpstarting the effort with a cloud platform software provider like VMware, OnApp or CA. The benefits of this approach:

  • Faster time to market
  • Less R&D expense
  • In some cases brand equity
  • Potentially greater enterprise compatibility
  • And somewhat being part of a network of compatible providers
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Meet Jamie - A HERO With The Power To Force Change

David Johnson

7:30 AM, on Monday, December 5th, 2011, flight 1052. As I took my seat in Southwest Airlines' "Business Class," otherwise known as the exit row, I gave a nod to my new seat mate and noticed his MacBook on the tray table. He was reading something on his iPad and set it down for a second to send a text message from his iPhone. Now there's a Kool-Aid connoisseur, I thought. "Going to Salt Lake or beyond?" I asked. "Salt Lake. Gotta visit some customers, and after that I have to go to Boise to train our western region sales team."

And so the conversation began. I learned that his name is Jamie, he is in sales, travels every week, loves his job and his company, and is the top sales performer. $3M in quota last year and his secret sauce is knowing his customers' businesses better than they do, and delivering value with every interaction. He said, "Last week I had a meeting with a new prospect for the first time, and they couldn't believe I showed up without slides, and we spent the meeting talking about their situation instead of throwing up all over them about what we do."  Jamie is a HERO. His world revolves around delivering customer value, and he has neither the time nor the patience for anything that gets in the way.

Naturally, I asked him some questions about his MacBook Air and the applications he uses. His answers, while fascinating, echo what I hear from many others like him:

Q: How do you like your MacBook Air?
A: I love it.
Q: Does your company issue those or is that one yours?
A: Hell no! It's mine! They gave me a huge Dell.
Q: Where is it?
A: It's in the closet at home, still in the bag.
Q: Does your company support the Mac?

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Shining The Harsh Light On Cloud Washing

James Staten

For years I have been railing about cloud washing -- the efforts by vendors and, more recently, enterprise I&O professionals to give a cloud computing name to their business-as-usual IT services and virtualization efforts. Now, a cloud vendor, with tongue somewhat in cheek, is taking this rant to the next level. 

Appirio, a cloud integration and customization solution provider, has created the cloud computing equivalent of the Razzie Awards to recognize and call out those vendors it and its clients see as the most egregious cloud washing offenders. The first annual Washies will be announced next Wednesday night at The Cigar Bar in San Francisco, and in true Razzie tradition, the nominees are invited to attend and pick up their dubious honors in person. I'm betting that Larry Ellison will be otherwise engaged.

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Good Tidings We Bring….As The Customer Is King

John Rakowski

As well as an adaptation of a festive song this could be one of the guiding jingles for ServiceNow.

This week I have been attending, along with my colleague Stephen Mann, the Knowledge11 conference in Frankfurt. ServiceNow is one of those companies that ITSM practitioners have an interest in because of their phenomenal growth and go-to-market model.

So what are their secret ingredients that make the solution so appealing?

Is it simply, that their key differentiator is that they provide a SaaS-based model and have experienced a bit of luck with the ‘cloud’ computing phenomenon? Is it that they have a great company name which lends itself well to becoming a brand? Is it that their sales and account managers have mythical powers?

My answer to you, after spending time with their clients, is that, firstly, they have inherent or at least portray a focus on the end ‘customer.’ They understand that their customers are looking for fast integration that will link in and improve their current ITSM and other business workflow processes. Also, the majority of their customers adopt the SaaS-based solution; it means that they can’t hide behind the age old cloak of “It must be the users infrastructure/network/environment/processes, etc.” If there is a problem with the software they have to fix it because the chances are that another customer will experience the same issue.

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I Know It Works, But It’s Time To Move Off Your Old Rotary Phone, That Is, Homegrown DDI Solution

Andre Kindness

I was watching “60 Minutes” last night and started chuckling a little bit over the show’s report about piracy. Stealing isn’t funny, but Leslie Stahl trying to explain how criminals do it is. Take for example the dialogue between a former Justice Department official and Stahl.

"And when we get that complete movie, the technology will rearrange all those little pieces into one complete film that is watchable," John Malcolm, a former Justice Department official, explained.

"There's a technology that automatically puts it in the right order?" Stahl asked.

Yes, Virginia. Technology can do that.

Anyway, the report got me thinking about where we were with multitiered applications and virtualization, and how it won’t be too long before applications can be broken up across servers much the way BitTorrent does with files on the Internet. This dissemination of applications in the data center will force the "dial tone" of IT — an always-on, always-available service for connecting to data and applications — to evolve from a clunky and manual process into an automated one. Much of IP, Dynamic Host Communication Protocol(DHCP), Domain Name Services(DNS) management requires too much hand holding; administrators spend time allocating addresses, capturing unused ones, uploading new records, or checking for errors. On average, it takes two days to allocate a set of addresses for the deployment of new servers when it’s 5 minutes of work.

Infrastructure and operations professionals will have to quickly wean their administrators off manual, script-based, or kludgy homegrown tools soon if they’re going to be ready for:

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When Will We Have IaaS Cloud Standards? Not Till 2015

James Staten

 

Guest post from I&O Researcher Lauren E. Nelson

If you’re sitting on the sidelines waiting for IaaS to become more standardized, stop it. You’ll be waiting there till 2015, while everyone else is building fundamental skills and ramping up their cloud knowledge. So jump in the game already!

In Forrester’s latest report, The State Of Infrastructure-As-A-Service Cloud Standards, we took a long look at the efforts in place today that drive cloud standardization and were not impressed. While there’s lots of effort taking place, progress thus far is miniscule. But that shouldn’t be a big surprise to anyone familiar with the standardization process since:

a.       Standards are always in arrears of best practice maturity

b.      Collaboration is often time consuming, delaying the creation and ratification process

But why 2015? Standards organizations are still exploring the market needs — which means that by the time they identify where to focus and actually develop a proposed standard it will be at least a year for now. From there it will be a long year of committee meetings to vet and vote on the standard itself and build momentum for its release. And if the standard makes it to release and there’s enough market momentum behind that proposed standard, it will be another year or two before there’s significant adoption where it actually becomes a market standard.  The standards timeline is easily three to four years out.

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